Cultural Tourism Policy Guidelines & Declaration
About this Tool
These guidelines are adapted from the report of the international workshop on Advancing Sustainable Tourism at Natural and Cultural Heritage Sites (Mogao, China, September 2009), the declarations of the UNWTO/UNESCO World Conference on Tourism and Culture in Siem Reap, Cambodia (February 2015) and Muscat, Sultanate of Oman (December 2017), and the Policy Recommendations on Sustainable Tourism Development drafted by the Mararakech International Task Force on Sustainable Tourism Development led by France (2009).
Heritage and tourism managers are encouraged to use these policy guidelines to facilitate and strengthen working relationships between those tasked with managing and promoting sustainable tourism and those tasked with safeguarding and conserving the Site's Outstanding Universal Value.
At the bottom of this page you will find a sample declaration that can be used to formalize commitments to implement these policies at your World Heritage site.
1. Tourism and heritage managers should build new partnership models by:
- Working towards greater integration of culture and tourism into our destination's economic development agenda;
- Reducing barriers and facilitating effective partnership models and governance structures within government at national, regional and local levels, to develop, coordinate and implement tourism and culture policies and practices in a more integrated manner;
- Encouraging and facilitating effective partnerships between government, private and community organizations in both tourism and cultural heritage sectors; and
- Developing cultural tourism policies that recognize, protect and promote the authenticity of culture and cultural heritage and forge effective synergies using a range of appropriate technologies and social media platforms whereby all stakeholders exchange more information, experience and best practice in this area.
2. Tourism and heritage managers should promote and protect cultural heritage by:
- Encouraging tourism activities that contribute to increase public awareness and support for the protection and conservation of cultural heritage; in particular, by communicating heritage characteristics and values through the tourism experience chain;
- Considering the aspirations of the host communities in determining and managing the use of the tangible and intangible culture;
- Ensuring that sufficient revenues derived from tourism activities go toward the management and conservation of cultural and natural heritage and promote the engagement of tourists;
- Protecting and sustainably managing World Heritage Sites and encouraging the implementation of the World Heritage Sustainable Tourism Programme, including the implementation of effective tourism congestion management measures, training and capacity building of site managers and other stakeholders;
- Supporting the fight against trafficking of cultural heritage;
- Promoting examples for responsible and sustainable tourism management at World Heritage Sites and ensuring that the local or host community benefits from tourism;
- Ensuring that ethnic and indigenous people and their cultures are respected and preserved and that tourism development and promotion is done with full participation and through equitable partnerships;
- Implementing effective and appropriate heritage and socio-economic sustainability impact assessment procedures prior to the approval of tourism projects associated with World Heritage Sites and the local communities in the vicinity of such sites; and
- Advancing service quality, the use of technology and visitors' research in order to increase the competitiveness of cultural sites.
3. Tourism and heritage managers should link people and foster sustainable development through cultural routes by:
- Where appropriate, encouraging and facilitating international and national initiatives that draw together historically or thematically linked heritage places, including World Heritage Sites, into tourism routes, corridors or circuits;
- Building international or regional networks across culture and tourism government agencies and within other relevant government areas such as foreign affairs, transportation, interior or immigration;
- Cooperating across regional or national borders to encourage, facilitate and build governance and certification models to ensure quality and consistency of the visitor experience along the cultural routes;
- Fostering equity of governance structures, tourism development, public/private partnerships and marketing activities across the entire cultural route; and
- Consulting local communities and engaging them as stakeholders in the formulation and management of tourism along cultural routes.
4. Tourism and heritage managers should promote closer linkages between tourism, living cultures and creative industries by:
- Encouraging opportunities for cultural tourism to be a valuable generator of business opportunities and socio-economic development for creative industries and the cultural sector;
- Encouraging and facilitating new forms of cultural tourism, such as creative tourism, and tourism related to special interests such as museums, industrial, underwater or memorial heritage;
- Promoting sustainable value chains within local communities that ensure a consistent quality and creativity in the presentation and/or performance by cultural industries;
- Fostering local training and educational opportunities for ongoing participation and growth in cultural industries; and
- Encouraging public and private investment in physical and institutional infrastructure to sustain local creative industries.
5. Tourism and heritage managers should support the contribution of cultural tourism to urban development by:
- Encouraging local cultural traditions, museums and contemporary creative industries to become part of the programmes for urban development and/or regeneration;
- Encouraging the regeneration of degraded or redundant industrial areas of historic cities includes the integration of cultural heritage;
- Encouraging urban development to be undertaken in association with local communities and provides equitable opportunities for socio-economic development;
- Encouraging urban development to be integrated socially and culturally with other urban areas to improve interaction between new and existing residential communities; and
- Encouraging cultural programmes and creative industry initiatives aimed at regenerating urban areas to include participation by tourists as well as local people.
6. Tourism and heritage managers should take a holisitic approach to tourism planning by:
- Ensuring tourism planning at the national and sub-regional levels coordinate and interact with the local level.
- Closely connecting policies for sustainable development, i.e. national sustainable development strategies, poverty reduction strategies, and local Agenda 21
- Making use of credible scientific methods and tools encompassing economic, environmental and social approaches and assessments for sustainable development that will help stakeholders relate to different components of the value chain understand their environmental and socio-cultural impacts (working towards maximizing benefits and reducing negative impacts).
- Utlizing a multi-stakeholder participatory planning process (NGOs, local authorities, community based organizations, enterprises, experts, and Destination Management Organisations, etc.), as well as through the development of partnerships at local, national, regional and international levels.
7. Tourism and heritage managers should ensure the sustainable operations and management of tourism by:
- Encouraging tourism businesses and public institutions in charge of tourism to adopt innovative and appropriate technology to improve the efficiency of resource use (notably land, energy and water), tackle the challenges of climate change, minimize emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG), and the production of waste, while protecting biodiversity.
- Respecting the legislated and/or planned objectives related to tourism development and management, as set out by local and national authorities; this includes conditions related to the environment, economy, and socio-cultural concerns
- Encouraging the use and adoption of internatiionally recognized standards for sustainable tourism
- Informing, educating and working collaboratively with the tourism industry to integrate sustainability into their policies and management practices, and secure their active participation in developing sustainable tourism.
8. Tourism and heritage managers should ensure investments in tourism support sustainability objectives by:
- Estimating the social and environmental impacts of public and private investments in the industry and adopting economic measures to compensate and offset unavoidable impacts
- Utilizing regulatory instruments with fully integrated environmental and social criteria to be applied in tendering, licensing and permit-approval procedures
- Estimating the expected benefits of tourism development on the basis of the ‘Total Economic Value’ that includes ecosystem services and social accounting benefits in investments decision making. Particular emphasis should be given to the inclusion of impacts in societies and local communities.
9. Tourism and heritage managers should integrate sustainability principles in tourism promotion and marketing efforts by:
- Emphasizing sustainability as a primary option for tourism development and to influence consumer choices
- Measuring promotion and marketing success should not only focus o the nubmer of 'arrivals', but also in terms of economic and social benefits that stay in the destination, and in terms of limitation of the negative environmental and social impacts
- Emphasizing and promoting the use of local goods and services in the tourism sector, which minimizes economic leakages.
- Educating consumers how to evaluate the environmental, socio-cultural footprint and economic implications of their decisions while inspiring them to purchase local sustainable tourism products and services, including products such as crafts, food, etc
10. Tourism and heritage managers should monitor and evaulate the impacts of tourism development by:
- Establishing baseline and measurable targets, reviewing progress and reporting towards the achievement of sustainable tourism objectives. The UNWTO guide on ‘Indicators for Sustainable Tourism’ should be used for examples of practical applications.
Download the Cultural Tourism Declaration
Despite the immense synergies between tourism and culture, the two sectors often operate within government and administrative structures that are disconnected or poorly coordinated, resulting in less than optimal outcomes for national and regional development policies, planning and development.
At a time of unprecedented tourism growth, it is important to emphasize the shared responsibility among culture and tourism stakeholders, especially within government and public administrations at all levels, as well as the immense opportunities for both culture and tourism to develop new partnership models.
The following declaration represents a commitment to the Policy Guidelines. It is a template that should be adjusted for signature between the heritage manager, tourism manager, and local elected officials.