Pursuing my passion for sustainable tourism and singing. Towards the promotion of sustainable development in World Heritage sites

We have interviewed Silvia Tuniz, our intern in the Science Unit. Silvia is a 24-year-old student from Cervignano del Friuli, a small city near Aquileia - whose Archaeological Area and the Patriarchal Basilica were inscribed on the World Heritage list in 1998. She joined the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe, Venice (Italy), for a 4-month internship from February through May.

What is your educational background, and why did you want to intern at UNESCO?

I have studied “Science and Techniques in Cultural Tourism” at the University of Udine. This 3-year Degree Course aimed at creating a cultural and professional profile that integrated basic cultural knowledge in the various disciplinary fields with technical, practical and organizing competences in the field of cultural tourism.

After completing my Bachelor’s Degree, I moved to Venice to take part in a second cycle degree of the Intercultural Programme on Tourism Systems organized by the University Ca’ Foscari. This degree is providing students with an interdisciplinary knowledge and the tools needed to meet tourism market needs. It further aims at forming experts in the development and intercultural promotion of tourism systems and markets, and equipping them with a multidisciplinary education which will enable them to support the growth and competitiveness of tourism destinations.

I started to get interested in the theme of sustainability during my undergraduate studies. Because of my interest in the World Heritage site of “Venice and its Lagoon”, I chose to write my thesis on the subject of: “Sustainable Tourism in the Art Cities. The Case of Venice”. I studied the negative effects of mass tourism and helped identify new methods to practice sustainable tourism.

What do you think you are gaining from your internship? What are the most important aspects?

Currently, I am studying to obtain my Master’s. The theme of my thesis will be related to the World Heritage site of “Venice and its Lagoon” and sustainable responsible tourism, a deeper study of the subject I had approached in my BA thesis. Venice is in clear and urgent need of a rich, diversified and sustainable tourism policy and better tourism management. In all art cities, tourism is a key economic factor, but it needs to be dealt with wisely to avoid the devastating effects of mass tourism, which include, among others, pollution, congestion, gentrification and the crowding out of residents and non-touristic activities. The well-being of the local community should be considered first and foremost.

Interning the UNESCO Office in Venice was a great opportunity for me to combine my interests in sustainability and that in UNESCO sites, especially “Venice and its Lagoon”. I feel truly fortunate. I think that this internship will be a huge opening for me and my vocational career. I learned to work in a team and new methods for sustainability. I finally understood what UNESCO and its programmes are.

What are your goals for the future? What will happen after the internship? How has your internship influenced your choices so far?

Currently I live with my family. I go home on weekends, whenever possible. I have many hobbies - like playing the piano, reading books and animated production for children. My favourite hobby and second passion is singing and I am part of a women’s choir of which I’m the president.

In the future, I hope to work in the field of tourism. I don’t know where I will work or what I will do.  What I know is that I would like to carry out projects related to sustainable tourism and, ideally, also do something that is connected to the environment. It would be fantastic if I could associate my 2 passions, sustainable tourism and singing, and through the participation to singing festivals promote a sustainable development of the territory.