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UN Tourism: Applications for 2024 Best Tourism Villages Open


UN Tourism, formerly known as the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), is now accepting entries for the 2024 Best Tourism Villages program.

This initiative, which has seen nearly 600 applications from close to 100 countries over its previous three editions, currently includes 186 villages in its network. These are split into 129 villages acknowledged as Best Tourism Villages and 57 participating in the Upgrade Programme, representing 55 countries across five continents.

Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General of UN Tourism, stated: “The Best Tourism Villages by UN Tourism initiative celebrates rural destinations that effectively use tourism for sustainable development, economic opportunity, and the preservation of unique cultural and natural heritage. We eagerly anticipate more inspiring examples of tourism as a catalyst for positive change in the 2024 edition.”

Call for Applications UN Tourism Member States are encouraged to nominate up to eight villages via their National Tourism Administrations (NTAs). The application window is open until 24 April 2024, and the successful villages will be announced in the third quarter of the year.

Applications welcome

UN Tourism Member States are invited to submit up to eight candidate villages through their National Tourism Administrations (NTAs). Applications are open until 24 April 2024, with the selected villages announced in the third quarter of the year.

An external independent Advisory Board, comprising experts in various fields, evaluates applications based on nine areas:

  1. Cultural and Natural Resources;
  2. Promotion and Conservation of Cultural Resources;
  3. Economic Sustainability;
  4. Social Sustainability;
  5. Environmental Sustainability;
  6. Tourism Development and Value Chain Integration;
  7. Governance and Prioritization of Tourism;
  8. Infrastructure and Connectivity and
  9. Health, Safety and Security.

Growing tourism for rural development

The Best Tourism Villages by UN Tourism, introduced in 2021, seeks to transform tourism into a catalyst for rural prosperity and wellbeing. The initiative takes a dual-pronged approach: valuing and preserving rural villages, their landscapes, cultural diversity, and knowledge systems, and advancing innovative strategies aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The initiative comprises three integral components:

  • The ‘Best Tourism Villages by UN Tourism recognizes outstanding examples of rural tourism destinations with cultural and natural assets, that preserve and promote rural and community-based values, products and lifestyle and have a clear committed to innovation and sustainability. Selection is based on an evaluation of their resources and initiatives in nine areas covering the three pillars of sustainable development, economic, social and environmental.
  • The ‘Best Tourism Villages by UN Tourism ‘ Upgrade Programme benefits applicants that do not fully meet the criteria to obtain recognition. These villages receive support from UNWTO and partners to address the gaps identified in the evaluation process.
  • The ‘Best Tourism Villages by UN Tourism ‘ Network provides a space for exchanging experiences and good practices and opportunities. It includes representatives of the Best Tourism Village as well as from the Upgrade Programme and benefits from the contributions of experts, public and private sector partners engaged in the promotion of tourism for rural development. Since its inception, the BTV Network has organized a series of training sessions and masterclasses, reaching hundreds of participants.
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