The UNWTO has just launched the second edition of the Best Tourism Villages initiative.

 

Under the premise of turning tourism into an engine for rural development and rewarding those villages that are an example of tourism promotion and preservation of their cultural and natural assets, their community values and their way of life, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has just announced the second edition of Best Tourism Villages. This is an initiative for which more than 170 candidatures were submitted last year and which, in the end, awarded a total of 44 villages from 30 different countries. All of them have become part of the Best Tourism Villages Network created by the UNWTO as a space for the exchange of experiences and good practices, where they can benefit from the contributions of representatives from the public and private sectors.

 

The villages that aspire to achieve this recognition must meet several requirements, such as not exceeding 15,000 inhabitants and having a low population density, being located in an area where traditional activities such as agriculture, livestock and fishing have a significant weight, and sharing the values and lifestyle of the community.

 

The criteria to be assessed include the natural and cultural resources of the village, the work carried out for their conservation and promotion, economic, social and environmental sustainability, their tourism potential, the existence of a governance model based on public-private collaboration and prioritising the tourism sector, the infrastructure and connectivity of the site, and the availability of health and safety services to look after residents and visitors.

 

Each member country of the World Tourism Organization may submit three nominations, which will be evaluated by the UNWTO advisory committee. The deadline for applications is 28 June and the names of the villages to be recognised as Best Tourism Villages will be announced at the end of the year.

 

In the first edition, the UNWTO recognised two Spanish towns: Lekunberri (Navarra) and Morella (Castellón). In addition, Cantavieja (Teruel) was included in the Best Tourism Villages Upgrade programme, which supports those villages that have not fulfilled all the requirements, but with the support of the UNWTO can improve those areas in which deficiencies were detected during the evaluation process.

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