New Delhi: Dhordo village of Gujarat has found its way into the list of 54 best tourism villages announced by the World Tourism Organization on Thursday. The village hosted the first Tourism Working Group Meeting of the G20 held under India's presidency of the influential grouping.
The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) announced its list of Best Tourism Villages 2023. The accolade recognises villages that are leading the way in nurturing rural areas and preserving landscapes, cultural diversity, local values, and culinary traditions, the world body said in a statement issued on its official website. Dhordo, located near Kutch, is known for its 'Rann Utsav,' where visitors get to admire the 'white desert' of the region.
"Launched in 2021, the Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO initiative is part of the UNWTO Tourism for Rural Development Programme. The programme works to foster development and inclusion in rural areas, combat depopulation, advance innovation and value chain integration through tourism and encourage sustainable practices," the statement said. In this third edition, 54 villages from all regions were selected from almost 260 applications, the Madrid-based organisation said.
A further 20 villages have joined the Upgrade Programme, and all 74 villages are now part of the UNWTO Best Tourism Villages Network. India's Madla village is part of the Upgrade Programme. The villages were named during the UNWTO General Assembly, taking place this week in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, from October 16 to 20.
"Tourism can be a powerful force for inclusivity, empowering local communities and distributing benefits across regions, UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili was quoted as saying in the statement. "This initiative acknowledges villages that have harnessed tourism as a catalyst for their development and well-being."
Other villages on the list
In addition to Dhordo, some of the other villages that have featured in the list include Barrancas in Chile, Biei in Japan, Cantavieja in Spain, Dahshour in Egypt, Dongbaek in the Republic of Korea, Douma in Lebanon, Ericeira in Portugal and Filandia in Colombia, according to the statement. The villages selected to participate in the Upgrade Programme this year are Asuka in Japan, Baos de Montemayor in Spain, Bilebante in Indonesia, Civita di Bagnoregio in Italy, El Cisne in Ecuador and Iza in Colombia among others.
As in previous editions, the villages are evaluated under nine key areas, including cultural and natural resources, promotion and conservation of cultural resources, economic, social, and environmental sustainability, and tourism development among others, the statement said. Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO recognises outstanding rural tourism destinations with accredited cultural and natural assets, a commitment to preserving community-based values, and a clear commitment to innovation and sustainability across economic, social, and environmental dimensions, it said.
Best Tourism Villages by the UNWTO Upgrade Programme supports villages on their journey to meet recognition criteria, helping in areas identified as gaps during evaluation, the statement said. The call for submissions for the fourth edition will take place in the first months of 2024, opening a new opportunity for rural destinations to shine on the global stage, the UNWTO said.