Two major projects from the Gulf region – Rijal Alma’a (Saudi Arabia) and Misfat Al Abriyeen (Oman) – have made it to the list of Best Tourism Villages which has been compiled by United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) for 2021.
The two GCC landmarks are among a total of 44 villages from 32 countries across the five world regions which were granted the recognition in 2021 at key event in Madrid, Spain.
All of them stand out for their natural and cultural resources as well as for their innovative and transformative actions and commitment to the development of tourism in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), said the statement from UNWTO.
The best examples of villages embracing tourism to provide opportunity and drive sustainable development have been celebrated at the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) General Assembly in Madrid.
The Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO initiative was launched to advance the role of tourism in safeguarding rural villages, along with their landscapes, natural and cultural diversity, and their local values and activities, including local gastronomy.
This initiative recognizes those villages committed to making tourism a strong driver of their development and wellbeing. The villages were evaluated by an independent Advisory Board based on a set of criteria covering nine areas: Cultural and Natural Resources; Promotion and Conservation of Cultural Resources, Economic Sustainability; Social Sustainability; Environmental Sustainability; Tourism Potential and Development and Value Chain Integration; Governance and Prioritization of Tourism Infrastructure and Connectivity and Health, Safety and Security.
All of the 44 chosen villages scored a total of 80 or more points or more out of a possible 100, it stated.
“Tourism can be a driver of social cohesion and inclusion by promoting a fairer distribution of benefits throughout the territory and empowering local communities,” remarked UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili.
“This initiative recognizes those villages committed to making tourism a strong driver of their development and wellbeing,” he stated.
The others in the list of Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO 2021 are: Bekhovo (Russia); Bkassine (Lebanon); Bojo (Philippines); Caspalá (Argentina); Castelo Rodrigo (Portugal); Cuetzalan del Progreso (Mexico); Cumeada (Portugal); Gruyères (Switzerland); Batu Puteh (Malaysia); Kaunertal (Austria); Le Morne (Mauritius); Lekunberri (Spain); Maní (Mexico); Miyama (Japan); Mokra Gora (Serbia); Morella (Spain); Mustafapaşa (Turkey); Nglanggeran (Indonesia); Niseko (Japan); Nkotsi Village (Rwanda); Old Grand Port (Mauritius); Olergesailie (Kenya) Ollantaytambo (Peru); Pano Lefkara (Cyprus); Pica (Chile); Pochampally, (India); Puerto Williams (Chile); Radovljica (Slovenia); Testo Alto (Brazil); Saas Fee (Switzerland); San Cosme y Damiá (Paraguay); San Ginesio (Italy); Sidi Kaouki (Morocco); Solčava (Slovenia); Soufli (Greece); Taraklı (Turkey); The Purple Island and Ungok Village (Korea); Valposchiavo (Switzerland) Wonchi (Ethiopia) and Xidi and Yucun (China).