Cultural and natural heritages are of outstanding value to humanity. The historic components of a city together with its natural environment provides a framework for livability and wellbeing. The global South host a large number of World Heritage Sites: among the ten countries with the largest numbers of World Heritage Sites, four are developing countries including China, India, Mexico and Iran. This demonstrates great demand for and possibilities of South-South cooperation for a better and more connected world heritage sites of the South.
Tourism and heritage sites are naturally entwined, and digitalization has been and will remain the most effective tool for the development of sustainable tourism in many heritage sites. While nothing can compare to the experience of a live concert or an encounter with art in museums and galleries, thanks to digital platforms, antiques, art and culture are just a click away from home nowadays. The digital display of historical relics, good practice of museum on travel over the cloud, and creative commercial activities that are relevant to relics and stories of museums have added new impetus for the development of the tourism sector. Digitalization also promotes cultural exchange among peoples and nations, while creating new economic opportunities for new media and the manufacturing industry, particularly those small businesses.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the world to a standstill along with multiple sectors, especially tourism. It also impacted the daily operations of historical cities globally. During the pandemic, many world heritage cities implemented and explored innovative measures to curb the spread of the pandemic, many of which were made possible with digital tools. In the post lockdown period, heritage sites and museums are slowly re-opening under the “new normal”. In this vein, digitalization remains one of the most sustainable and effective solutions.
Against this backdrop and aligned with the “Build Back Better” approach, under the framework of the Cities Project, which supports and promotes South-South and triangular cooperation for sustainable development at the city level, the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) has organized this webinar on Leveraging Digital Innovation in Promoting Tourism Development in World Heritage Cities, under its “Travel South over the Cloud” series. This webinar brings together representatives of world heritage cities, international organizations, think tanks, and the private sector from the global South, to:
- exchange good practices and experiences in managing and preserving world heritage sites and achieving sustainable tourism, including the particular measures taken to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic;
- discuss the role and potential of South-South and triangular cooperation among world heritage cities in the growth and recovery of the tourism sector; and
- facilitate partnership brokering among multiple stakeholders from the global South for sustainable tourism.
Moderator: Ms. Xiaojun Grace Wang, Deputy Director, United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC)
1. Opening Remarks
- Dr. Mechtild Rössler, Director, World Heritage Center, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
- Venice, Italy: Mr. Pierpaolo Campostrini, Managing Director, Consortium for Managing Scientific Research on Venice Lagoon System (CORILA)
- Khiva, Uzbekistan: Mr. Islomiddin Srojidinov, Specialist, Ministry of Tourism, Republic of Uzbekistan
- Mexico: Mr. Jorge Ortega Gonzalez, National Association of World Heritage Cities of Mexico (ANCMPM A.C)
- UNWTO: Mr. Igor Stefanovic, Technical Coordinator, Ethics, Culture and Social Responsibility Department, United Nations World Tourism Organization
4. Summary and Closing
- Ms. Xiaojun Grace Wang, Deputy Director, UNOSSC