Thematic Tourism Routes Foster Regional Collaboration and Prosperity

Mr Notarianni presents Heritage Tourism in the ICIMOD initiative ‘Kailash Sacred Landscape’

During the 23rd edition of the South Asia’s Tourism and Travel Show (SATTE) 2016 by the United Nations World Tourism Organizations (UNWTO), the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development took part in the perspectives business session “The relevance of thematic tourism routes in fostering regional collaboration and prosperity”  The event was held in Delhi in late January. Alla Peressolova, Head of the UNWTO Silk road Program, presented the Transnational Thematic Routes and new opportunities for regional cooperation and development. ICIMOD Senior Tourism Specialist, Marcello Notarianni, spoke on Heritage Tourism route sharing and trans-boundary landscape initiatives of the Hindu-Kush Himalaya range. Notarianni focused on the Kailash Sacred Landscape (KSL) initiative, sharing activities undertaken on heritage tourism as a key livelihood option for mountain communities and an important tool to protect and promote natural and cultural heritage. 

The panel discussion, ‘The relevance of thematic tourism routes in fostering regional collaboration and prosperity’ included Suman Billa, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, Shirani Weerakoon, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Tourism Development & Christian Religious Affairs, Sri Lanka, Subhash Goyal, President, Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO), Sarah Mathews, Head of Destination Marketing APAC, TripAdvisor and Marcello Notarianni of ICIMOD. 

A lively panel discussion ‘The relevance of thematic tourism routes in fostering regional collaboration and prosperity’

During the panel discussion, the importance of fulfilling the four pillars of sustainability into thematic tourism routes, specifically heritage, the religion, safety of the visitors and local cultural protection was emphasised. Other panelists spoke of the importance of strengthening partnerships and support frameworks for cooperation between countries, destinations and private sector, supporting branding initiatives, and improving the VISA travel facilitation with the support of the Governments and International Organizations. Engaging in thematic tours could also encourage visitors to provide feedback and share their stories online. 

Developing a thematic route involving all local stakeholders could greatly increase visitor understanding, appreciation and satisfaction. Thematic tourism routes guarantee a balanced approach between tourism promotion and heritage protection. 

Notarianni said the broader the model, the harder it is to implement, and an international route is a big model. 

‘An integrated approach like KSL initiative could find a good balance, but always rely on the commitment of the local government to ensure the protection of cultural and natural heritage” Notarianni said. Panelists agreed using sustainable and responsible tourism models in developing a thematic tourism routes was important for the benefit of local people linked the to the tourism business.