From Austria to Vietnam, 32 destinations from all around the world have been named ‘Best Tourism Villages 2022’ by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). The Award Ceremony will take place in AlUla, Saudi Arabia on 27-28 February 2023 back-to-back with the first presential meeting of the UNWTO Network of Best Tourism Villages.

The accolade recognizes rural destinations that are embracing tourism as a driver of development and new opportunities for jobs and income while preserving and promoting community-based values and products. The initiative also recognizes villages for their commitment to innovation and sustainability in all its aspects – economic, social, and environmental – and a focus on developing tourism in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In 2022, a total of 32 villages from 18 countries across the five world regions were awarded the recognition. The villages were evaluated by an independent Advisory Board based on a set of criteria covering nine areas as  Cultural and Natural Resources, Promotion and Conservation of Cultural Resources, Economic Sustainability, Social Sustainability, Environmental Sustainability, Tourism Development and Value Chain Integration, Governance and Prioritization of Tourism, Infrastructure and Connectivity, Health, Safety, and Security

Welcoming the news, UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “For rural communities everywhere, tourism can be a true game-changer in providing jobs, supporting local businesses, and keeping traditions alive. The Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO showcase the power of the sector to drive economic diversification and create opportunities for all outside of big cities.”

A total of 136 villages were put forward for consideration by 57 UNWTO Member States (each Member State could nominate a maximum of three villages) for the 2022 edition. From these, 32 were recognized as Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO.

A further 20 villages will enter the Upgrade Programme. All 52 villages will also become part of the UNWTO Best Tourism Villages Global Network created in 2021 which from this date gathers 115 villages from the five continents. The Network provides a number of benefits including onsite and online training, sharing of good practices, and international brand recognition and awareness.

The Best Tourism Villages initiative is the flagship project of the UNWTO Tourism for Rural Development Programme. The Programme aims to ensure tourism contributes to reducing regional inequalities in income and development, fighting depopulation, progressing gender equality and women’s and youth empowerment, advancing innovation and digitalization, improving connectivity, infrastructure, access to finance and investment, innovating in product development and value chain integration, promoting sustainable practices for more efficient use of resources and a reduction of emissions and waste and enhancing education and skills. The Programme promotes multi-level governance and partnerships and the active involvement and empowerment of communities.

The three pillars: of The best Tourism Villages initiative includes ‘Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO, Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO Upgrade Programme, and Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO Global Network.

The ‘Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO’ recognizes villages that are outstanding examples of rural tourism destinations with accredited cultural and natural assets, that preserve and promote rural and community-based values, products, and lifestyle and have a clear commitment to innovation and sustainability in all its aspects – economic, social and environmental.

The ‘Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO’ Upgrade Programme benefits a number of villages that do not fully meet the criteria to receive recognition. These villages receive support from UNWTO and its Partners in improving elements of the areas identified as gaps in the evaluation process.

The ‘Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO’ Global Network provides a space for exchanging experiences and good practices, learnings, and opportunities. It includes experts and public and private sector partners engaged in the promotion of tourism for rural development, as well.

List of Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO 2022 is Zell am See, Wagrain (Austria), Puqueldón (Chile) Dazhai,  Jingzhu (China) , Choachí (Colombia), Aguarico, Angochagua  (Ecuador), Choke Mountains Ecovillage (Ethiopia),  Mestia (Georgia),  Kfar Kama (Israel), Sauris-Zahre, Isola del Giglio (Italy)   Umm Qais (Jordan), Creel (Mexico), El Fuerte (Mexico), Ksar Elkhorbat,Moulay Bouzerktoune (Morocco),    Lamas , Raqchi  (Peru ), Castelo Novo (Portugal) , Pyeongsa-ri (Republic of Korea), Rasinari (Romania)    AlUla Old Town (Saudi Arabia) , Bohini (Slovenia) , Rupit, Alquézar, Guadalupe (Spain), Murten, Andermatt (Switzerland),  Birgi (Türkiye),  Thái Hải (Vietnam).

The villages participating in the UNWTO Upgrade Programme are Trevelin(Argentina), Krupa na Vrbasu, (Bosnia-Herzegovina), Fontainhas (Cabo Verde), Ninhue (Chile), San Vicente de Chucuri, Barichara (Colombia), Kalopanagiotis, Pissouri (Cyprus), Adaba (Ethiopia), Khonoma (India)  Neot Semadar (Israel), Otricoli (Italy), Il Ngwesi (Kenya), Grand Baie ( Mauritius) Bella Vista( Paraguay)    Istebna (Poland), Ferraria de São João( Portugal),   Castara, Trinidad and Tobago   Anıtlı,  Cumalıkızık (Türkiye)

The next edition of the Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO will open in February 2023.

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