UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office and the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts organized the “International Workshop on Sustainable Tourism Management at World Heritage Sites in Iran” in Shushtar City, Khuzestan Province, Islamic Republic of Iran, from 06 to 10 November 2019. This initiative gathered together 30 site managers coming from the 24 UNESCO World Heritage Sites to discuss challenges and opportunities in the sustainable tourism management of World Heritage Sites in Iran. This initiative is part of the EU-funded project “Silk Road Heritage Corridors in Afghanistan, Central Asia, and Iran- the International Dimension of the European Year of Cultural Heritage” implemented by UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office in close collaboration with Ministry of the Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism.
“Over the past years, UNESCO World Heritage sites have become important travel destinations around the world that -if managed properly- can have a great potential impact on local economic development and long-term sustainability. When managed responsibly, tourism can be a driver for preservation and conservation of cultural and natural heritage and a vehicle for sustainable progress,” said Ms. Maryam Soltanzadeh, delivering a message from Cvetan Cvetkovski, Officer-in-charge of the UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office, during the opening remarks. Mr. Azizi, Director General of the World Heritage Sites Office (MCHTH) reminded the participants about the obligation to include sustainable tourism as part of their master plans for the World Heritage Sites.
The workshop addressed a number of topics including destination management, opportunities, and challenges in tourism management, visitors’ management, communities and tourism at WHS, and new technologies in tourism. The workshop provided a great opportunity for the site managers of the world heritage sites in Iran to exchange information and discuss their challenges and opportunities to move toward sustainable tourism management at World Heritage Sites in Iran. A number of lectures from Iranian experts enriched the training program and provided the participants with a unique insight on World Heritage Sites in Iran from a different perspective. A world-renowned expert, Ms. Dominique Verdugo, has shared her experience in the field of sustainable tourism management with the site managers, encouraging discussions and a fruitful exchange of knowledge between the participants.
The workshop included a site visit to two World Heritage Sites, Tchoga Zanbil and Shushtar Historical Hydrological System, which provided a practical opportunity for all the participants to discuss ways in which sustainable tourism could be further enhanced and how this can be part of the sustainable preservation of the sites. The workshop resulted in a draft declaration on sustainable tourism management, which was achieved consensus by all the participants.
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