UNWTO and the Comunidad de Madrid have reunited 18 experts from all around the world to share ideas, debate and explore the challenges and trends of cultural tourism. The meeting focused on the strategic management of cultural resources for the destinations, including the challenge of managing tourist flows through different routes or combined products. Experts also discussed on how to promote lesser-known destinations which are outside of the major tourist circuits as a way to avoid the saturation of main touristic attractions. In this sense, for example, the experts examined crucial role of tourism promotion, marketing strategies, and public-private partnerships for the development of cultural tourism.
The debates focused on the identification of aspects that are jeopardizing the sustainability of cultural tourism. This brings up the eternal dilemma between conservation and development, and to what extent it is legitimate to exploit the cultural values of a territory for the socio-economic growth.
Ion Vilcu, director of the UNWTO Affiliate Members Department, highlighted the importance of cultural values for the promotion of destinations. He added “UNWTO is providing solutions to the conflicts that tourist saturation is generating in major destinations and cultural sites, as well as to promote the development of tourism in lesser-known sites, stimulating their conservation and fostering the positive effects that tourism generates in terms of socioeconomic development”.
Daniel Martinez, deputy regional minister of culture and tourism of the Region of Madrid, highlighted the opportunity for the Region of Madrid to host such an important international meeting. “We are very pleased to facilitate reflection on the region’s essential tourism model. We are experiencing a large increase in high-value tourists who visit us attracted by our cultural and heritage offer, which is why it is essential to understand the trends of cultural tourism and to promote its sustainable growth, generating employment and attracting investment.”
During the last 3 days these international experts have been working to draw up conclusions and set out recommendations for cultural and tourism destination management that will be featured in a report to be presented next January at the International Tourism Trade Fair (FITUR). On this occasion, experts also had the opportunity to visit the Picasso/Chanel Exhibition at the National Museum Thyssen-Bornemisza, along with the Royal Site and Town of Aranjuez.