The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has honored 32 global destinations as ‘Best Tourism Villages,’ recognizing their commitment to driving rural development through tourism. The Award Ceremony took place in AlUla, Saudi Arabia on 27-28 February 2023. These prestigious awards highlight the role of tourism in creating job opportunities, preserving community values, and fostering innovation and sustainability aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
For the 2022 edition, an independent Advisory Board evaluated a total of 136 villages from 57 UNWTO Member States, nominating 32 winners from 22 countries across five continents. These villages were assessed based on nine key criteria, encompassing cultural and natural resources, sustainability (economic, social, and environmental), tourism development and value chain integration, governance, infrastructure, and safety.
UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili welcomed the news, declaring that tourism could act as a “game-changer” for rural communities, emphasizing its ability to drive economic diversification and opportunity beyond urban areas.
The awards are part of UNWTO’s Tourism for Rural Development Programme, which focuses on reducing regional inequalities, promoting gender equality, innovation, sustainability, and community empowerment. This flagship initiative consists of three pillars:
- The ‘Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO’: Recognizes exemplary rural tourism destinations that are committed to innovation, sustainability, and cultural preservation.
- The ‘Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO’ Upgrade Programme: Supports villages that show potential but need improvements in specific areas, with aid provided by UNWTO and its partners.
- The ‘Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO’ Global Network: Facilitates the exchange of experiences and best practices among experts and stakeholders in rural tourism.
The award ceremony took place in AlUla, Saudi Arabia, from February 27-28, 2023. Among the 2022 awardees were villages from various countries including Austria, Chile, China, Colombia, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Georgia, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Mexico, Morocco, Peru, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Türkiye, and Vietnam.
The Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO awards signify a vital step towards acknowledging the power of tourism in transforming rural landscapes, contributing to global development agendas, and preserving the rich cultural and natural heritage of the world’s diverse communities.
The Award Ceremony took place in AlUla, Saudi Arabia on 27-28 February 2023.
List of Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO 2022
Choke Mountains Ecovillage, Ethiopia
Kfar Kama, Israel
Isola del Giglio, Italy
Umm Qais, Jordan
El Fuerte, Mexico
Ksar Elkhorbat, Morocco
Moulay Bouzerktoune, Morocco
Lamas, Peru Raqchi, Peru
Castelo Novo, Portugal
Pyeongsa-ri, Republic of Korea
Thái Hải, Vietnam
Link to further UNWTO reports and videos on the Unravel Travel TV website: CLICK HERE