UNWTO's 2023 Best Tourism Villages

UNWTO’s 2023 Best Tourism Villages: Celebrating Rural Beauty and Cultural Heritage

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has proudly revealed its esteemed list of Best Tourism Villages for 2023.

This recognition is bestowed upon villages that excel in preserving their landscapes, cultural diversity, local values, and culinary traditions, all while promoting rural development.

In the latest edition, a remarkable 54 villages from diverse regions were chosen from a pool of nearly 260 applications. Additionally, 20 villages have been inducted into the Upgrade Programme. Collectively, all 74 villages have been incorporated into the UNWTO Best Tourism Villages Network. The announcement was made during the UNWTO General Assembly held in the historic city of Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili highlighted the significance of this initiative, stating, “Tourism serves as a potent tool for inclusivity, enabling local communities to thrive and ensuring equitable distribution of benefits across regions. This initiative salutes those villages that have adeptly utilized tourism as a driving force for their holistic development and prosperity.”

A Global Endeavor to Empower Local Communities

Initiated in 2021, the “Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO” is a segment of the broader UNWTO Tourism for Rural Development Programme. This programme is dedicated to promoting development and inclusivity in rural regions, countering depopulation, pioneering innovation, integrating value chains through tourism, and endorsing sustainable practices.

The selection process for the villages is rigorous, with evaluations spanning nine crucial areas, including:

  • Cultural and Natural Resources
  • Promotion and Conservation of Cultural Resources
  • Economic, Social, and Environmental Sustainability
  • Tourism Development and Value Chain Integration
  • Governance and Tourism Prioritization
  • Infrastructure and Connectivity
  • Health, Safety, and Security

The initiative is structured around three core pillars:

  1. Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO: This honors exceptional rural tourism destinations that exhibit rich cultural and natural assets, dedication to conserving community-centric values, and a robust commitment to innovation and sustainability.

  2. Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO Upgrade Programme: This aids villages in their quest to fulfill the recognition criteria, offering assistance in areas identified as lacking during the evaluation process.

  3. The Best Tourism Villages Network: This platform facilitates the exchange of experiences, best practices, and learning opportunities among its members. It welcomes contributions from experts and stakeholders from both the public and private sectors who champion tourism as a catalyst for rural development.

With the inclusion of the 74 new members this year, the Network now boasts a total of 190 villages, aspiring to become the world’s most extensive rural network.

Best Tourism Villages 2023

List of Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO 2023 is as follows (by alphabetic order):

  • Al Sela, Jordan
  • Barrancas, Chile
  • Biei, Japan
  • Caleta Tortel, Chile
  • Cantavieja, Spain
  • Chacas, Peru
  • Chavín de Huantar, Peru
  • Dahshour, Egypt
  • Dhordo, India
  • Dongbaek, Republic of Korea
  • Douma, Lebanon
  • Ericeira, Portugal
  • Filandia, Colombia
  • Hakuba, Japan
  • Higueras, Mexico
  • Huangling, China
  • Jalpa de Cánovas, Mexico
  • Kandovan, Iran
  • La Carolina, Argentina
  • Lephis Village, Ethiopia
  • Lerici, Italy
  • Manteigas, Portugal
  • Morcote, Switzerland
  • Mosan, Republic of Korea
  • Oku-Matsushima, Japan
  • Omitlán de Juárez, Mexico
  • Oñati, Spain
  • Ordino, Andorra
  • Oyacachi, Ecuador
  • Paucartambo, Peru
  • Penglipuran, Indonesia
  • Pisco Elqui, Chile
  • Pozuzo, Peru
  • Saint-Ursanne, Switzerland
  • Saty, Kazakhstan
  • Schladming, Austria
  • Sehwa, Republic of Korea
  • Sentob, Uzbekistan
  • Shirakawa, Japan
  • Sigüenza, Spain
  • Şirince, Türkiye
  • Siwa, Egypt
  • Slunj, Croatia
  • Sortelha, Portugal
  • St. Anton am Arlberg, Austria
  • Tân Hoá, Viet Nam
  • Taquile, Peru
  • Tokaj, Hungary
  • Văleni, Moldova
  • Vila da Madalena, Portugal
  • Xiajiang, China
  • Zapatoca, Colombia
  • Zhagana, China
  • Zhujiawan, China

The villages selected to participate in the Upgrade Programme this year are:

  • Asuka, Japan
  • Baños de Montemayor, Spain
  • Bilebante, Indonesia
  • Ciocănești, Romania
  • Civita di Bagnoregio, Italy
  • El Cisne, Ecuador
  • Iza, Colombia
  • Kale Üçağız, Türkiye
  • Kemaliye, Türkiye
  • Kfar Masaryk, Israel
  • Madla, India
  • Ounagha, Morocco
  • Pela, Indonesia
  • Puerto Octay, Chile
  • Sabbioneta, Italy
  • Saint Catherine, Egypt
  • Sarhua, Peru
  • Taro, Indonesia
  • Vila de Frades, Portugal
  • Yanque, Peru

The call for submissions for the fourth edition will take place in the first months of 2024, opening a new opportunity to rural destinations to shine on the global stage.

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