At the beginning of the month, the General Assembly of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) was held in Madrid. The towns that are outstanding examples of how to make tourism a source of opportunities and an engine for sustainable development were announced with due honors.
The Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO initiative was launched to promote the role of tourism in the preservation of rural villages and their landscapes, their natural and cultural diversity, as well as their local values and activities, not to mention gastronomy, and is made up of three pillars:
- The recognition of “Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO”.
- The Upgrade Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO program.
- The Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO network.
What was our surprise when we learned that CantaviejaAlthough he did not win the top award, he came close to it, and was granted the opportunity to participate in the program Upgrade Best Tourism Villages by UNWTOwhich will benefit villages that do not fully meet the criteria to be recognized as “Best Tourism Village by UNWTO”. These villages will be supported by UNWTO and its partners to improve in areas where shortcomings are identified during the evaluation process.
A total of 75 UNWTO Member States nominated 174 villages, taking into account that each Member State could submit a maximum of three nominations for the 2021 pilot initiative. Among them, 44 were recognized as “Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO” and another 20 villages will participate in the Upgrade Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO program. The 64 villages recognized and participating in the program thus become part of the Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO network.
In Spain, Lekunberri (Navarra) and Morella (Castellón) have been recognized as “Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO”. These villages are characterized by their natural and cultural resources, their innovative and transformative approaches, and their commitment to tourism development, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
This initiative recognizes towns that have demonstrated their commitment to tourism as a robust driver of development and well-being. An independent advisory committee was charged with assessing the villages according to a series of criteria defined by nine areas of evaluation: cultural and natural resources, promotion and conservation of cultural resources, economic sustainability, social sustainability, environmental sustainability, tourism potential and development and integration into the value chain, tourism governance and prioritization, infrastructure and connectivity, and health and safety.
As stated by Zurab Pololikashvili, UNWTO Secretary-General, “Tourism can be a driver of social cohesion and inclusion by promoting a fairer distribution of benefits across the territory and empowering local communities” and that is why he believes that “this initiative recognizes the people who have demonstrated their commitment to tourism as a robust driver of development and well-being”.
Now Cantavieja is facing an intense year of work to improve some aspects and enter in “Best Tourism Village by UNWTO”.