Published on Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Ministers and Vice Ministers of Tourism from over 20 Silk Road countries learnt today about another major initiative to develop tourism along the ancient trade route.
At the 3rd Silk Road Ministers meeting held during ITB Berlin, UNWTO and UNESCO announced a joint project which will see the development of a 'Silk Road Heritage Corridors' tourism strategy for Central Asia and China. The initiative will commence in 2013, with the support of UNESCO Netherlands Funds-in-Trust.
During the meeting a panel of experts addressed major topics relating to heritage management along this extensive and diverse travel and trade route. The experts urged the Silk Road countries to focus on developing a network of complimentary heritage sites with their own individual unique selling points.
Ministers expressed their commitment to opening borders and working together to take a collaborative approach to managing and promoting Silk Road heritage. In particular the Minister of Tourism of Tajikistan announced the opening of the Kashgar border between Tajikistan and China to tourism travel and the Minister of Tourism of Kazakhstan announced Kazakhstan's intention to pursue a visa-free Central Asia.
The meeting highlighted the importance of collaboration between Ministries of Tourism and Ministries of Culture in managing heritage effectively and sustainably and underscored the importance of engaging the local community and stakeholders in building levels of coordination and dialogue.
The meeting also examined the role that technology is playing in safeguarding heritage and enhancing the visitor experience, through laser scanning and digital modeling.
Another issue that was heralded by ministers was the opportunity for using a combination of cultural heritage and tourism to achieve Millennium Development Goals, both empowering minorities and achieving poverty-alleviation within local communities.
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The recent insolvency of Low Cost Travel Group, one of the large players in the travel industry had a big impact on the travelers, hotels and all related players from both wholesale & retail arms. There were about 27,000 people on a holiday who had booked through the company comprised of a €200 million wholesale arm and €500 million OTA / retail arm.