The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) invites applications for Best Tourism Villages 2022, announced the organisation in late March 2022.
Launched in 2021, Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO promotes and enhances the role of tourism in safeguarding rural villages, along with their landscapes, natural and cultural diversity, knowledge systems, and local values and activities, including gastronomy. At the same time, the initiative also promotes transformative approaches to the development of tourism in rural destinations that contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In 2021, from more than 170 applications submitted, over 40 villages from 30+ countries across the five regions of the world were recognised as Best Tourism Villages and a further 20 villages were selected to participate in the Upgrade Programme.
The Best Tourism Villages 2021 included the village of Olorgesailie in Kenya, that is famous for its Olorgesailie Prehistoric Site, located on the floor of the Great Rift Valley between two extinct volcanoes, Mt. Olorgesailie and Oldonyo Esakut to the south-west of Nairobi. Olorgesailie is home to the Maasai people. Visitors can experience Maasai culture and enjoy the traditional foods.
The initiative has three components:
• The ‘Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO’ recognises outstanding examples of rural tourism destinations with recognised cultural and natural assets, that preserve and promote rural and community-based values, products and lifestyle and have a clear commitment to innovation and sustainability in all its aspects – economic, social and environmental. The recognition is based on an evaluation of their resources and initiatives in nine areas covering the three pillars of sustainable development.
• The ‘Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO’ Upgrade Programme assists a select number of villages among those that do not fully meet the criteria to obtain the recognition. The villages receive support from UNWTO and Partners in improving elements of the areas identified as gaps in the evaluation process.
• The ‘Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO’ Network provides a space for exchanging experiences and good practices. It includes representatives of the villages recognised as ‘Best Tourism Village by UNWTO’ as well as those participating in the Upgrade Programme and it will benefit from the contributions of experts, public and private sector partners engaged in the promotion of tourism for rural development. The Network also contributes to the work of UNWTO in identifying good practices, developing guidelines and policy recommendations as well as insights and knowledge.
Applications will be evaluated by an external independent Advisory Board consisting of experts in the different fields, based on the nine evaluation areas covering natural and cultural resources as well as initiatives in the three pillars of sustainability – economic, social and environmental.