» UNESCO and the European Parliament partner for sustainable tourism in Europe
27.09.2017 - ODG

UNESCO and the European Parliament partner for sustainable tourism in Europe

© European Union 2017 -UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, and the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani.

On 27 September, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, participated in the High-Level Conference on Tourism held at the Hemicycle of the European parliament under the auspices of President of the European Parliament Mr Antonio Tajani, with the participation of Mr Jyrki Katainen, European Commission Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness. On this occasion, Irina Bokova, had a bilateral meeting with President Tajani, to discuss further cooperation for sustainable tourism and culture in Europe.

As 2018 has been declared European Year of Cultural Heritage, UNESCO and the European Union have launched a joint programme for the development of new transnational thematic itineraries of World Heritage sites all across Europe. Irina Bokova stressed that an EU tourism strategy would strengthen joint action, highlighting the value of cultural tourism as a driver of both job creation and social inclusion, European self-esteem and citizenship.

“1.2 billion people are crossing international borders every year, and this is expected to grow to 2 billion by 2030. UNESCO World Heritage sites, Biosphere Reserves and Global Geoparks are major touristic destinations and we have a lot to share with the European Union to harness the potential of sustainable tourism, including cultural tourism,” said the Director-General.

"The European parliament is strongly engaged in this sector, as an effective strategy to reduce youth unemployment through the creation of local jobs, embedded in local landscapes and local know-how," declared President Tajani. 

The High-Level Conference seeks to foster a stronger tourism strategy and to harness the role of sustainable tourism for economic development and social cohesion.

“UNESCO stands ready to share expertise and cultural programmes to develop synergies and joint cultural projects, as we have done with positive results in Asia and South America.” said the Director-General. "Tourism stands at the crossroads of economic and social development, job creation and sense of belonging. The European Year for Cultural Heritage in 2018 is a unique opportunity to put culture at the heart of the European project, and the EU and UNESCO are natural partners in this regard". She underlined the presence of European Commissioners for Environment, Culture, as well as Internal Market at the conference, as a symbol of cross-sectoral commitment at the highest level, well beyond the "tourism box".

Europe has a considerable number of properties on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, with over 400 properties inscribed (out of a total of 1,073 sites on the World Heritage list). Major natural, historical and architectural sites are keys to European identity and play a crucial role in the economic and social development of European countries, attracting millions of national and international visitors annually.

More information on the EU/UNESCO project

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