The UNWTO’s International Seminar on Harnessing Cultural Tourism through Innovation and Technology and 40th Affiliate Members Plenary Session wrapped up recently with a renewed call for community participation in development of cultural tourism using cutting-edge technologies.
Cultural and heritage attractions are key to tourism development in many countries around the world, and innovation and technology can make these attractions more accessible while preserving their essence, the seminar concluded.
It also stressed that innovation and technology should empower, rather than disenfranchise, host populations and communities and can assist them in retaining their authenticity, while cultural heritage development and preservation should be a part of local and national plans for socioeconomic development through tourism and technology.
At the opening of the event, UNWTO secretary-general, Zurab Pololikashvili said that: “Technology and innovation, including ICT, can improve the quality of the tourist experience. It can improve governance, profits and the wellbeing of residents. And it can preserve intangible and tangible heritage resources for the sustainable development of cultural tourism.”
The seminar agreed that informed governance and policies surrounding uptake of new technologies and innovative practices can guide tourism development and open doors for the sector, with conservation and revitalization of cultural heritage one of its main benefits.
It also highlighted that for tourism authorities, participation of, and collaboration with, the host community should be a driver for technology-driven change. It was urged that tourism development not only maximize benefits and minimize costs for greater competitiveness, but also respond to the expectations and needs of hosts and guests alike.