Unlocking the stored up potential of cultural routes

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Cultural routes are becoming increasingly important for attracting widespread media and traveler attention and re-igniting interest in ancient cultures and traditions along mostly forgotten corridors. These “signature” cultural routes are helping destinations to further distinguish themselves, to re-invigorate rural areas, to stimulate product innovation and to create renewed value and interest in once important paths.

So important are cultural routes that the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in cooperation with the Tourism Agency of the Balearic Islands (ATB) recently released the Global Report on Cultural Routes and Itineraries, which provides key information about current trends and presents case studies in the field of the development of cultural routes, with an emphasis on the importance of protecting, preserving and conserving these itineraries.

What’s more, local communities and public- and private-sector stakeholders alike are taking notice and waking up to the stored potential these routes hold. Here are a few examples and what some experts tied to these projects have to say about developing cultural routes.

Destinations can also promote and protect local heritage and customs among the route. According to the TripAdvisor Travel Trends for the Silk Road survey, the top SR experiences visitors crave are: exploring ancient cities (62%), visiting UNESCO World Heritage sites (60%), trying local cuisine (50%) and shopping in bazaars (44%). However, there’s still a significant gap in what is perceived as a Silk Road destination (China, Mongolia, Central Asia), and destinations travellers are actually visiting(southern Europe, Egypt, Turkey, China, Israel).

Infrastructure and visas can be a challenge in lesser-developed regions. The TripAdvisor survey claims that 41% would be more likely travel to the Central Asia section if they could get a multiple-country visa (though 71% say visas do not impact their destination choice). Some SR countries have lightened visa requirements for European and North American tourists, but not for ‘less traditional’ source markets such as Asia or Africa.

“One of the main challenges for all routes is to attract the new generations without falling prey to mass tourism,” saysATTA’s Manal Kelig, Executive Director of the MENA region. “The goal is to raise curiosity and foster educational growth while sharing the importance of these routes. I think that will make people more sensitive and sustainable travellers, harming areas as little as possible. And routes need to be authentic; we can’t keep staging experiences. Today’s traveller can tell if something is authentic or not.”

Read the original article: Unlocking the Stored Up Potential of Cultural Routes | Adventure Travel News

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