Diversifying the tourism product, promoting alternative forms of tourism, innovative services, fresh destinations and new routes through strong synergies is the priority for Greece, Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura said during the opening on Thursday, of the 1st International Western Silk Road Workshop held in Alexandroupolis, northeastern Greece.
Jointly organized by the UNWTO, the Greek tourism ministry and the Eastern Macedonia and Thrace Region, with the support of the European Commission, the two-day event is held within the framework of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017, and brings together 51 representatives from 33 countries to exchange best practices on how to advance the contribution of tourism to sustainable development goals.
The project aims to revive the Silk Road which in antiquity served as a network of trade routes fostering cultural interaction across regions of Asia, the East and West, through to the Korean peninsula and Japan to the Mediterranean Sea. Today’s Western Silk Road project aims to highlight new opportunities – prospects for tourism development and cross-border partnerships through the cultural heritage of these regions.
Addressing the workshop, Minister Kountoura underlined that Greece can play a defining role in the development of new tourism cooperations based on its historical and cultural legacy.
“We seek to create the foundation for new partnerships and joint transnational initiatives in order to support sustainable tourism development with terms and policies that will protect and promote the environment and the natural wealth of each region and our invaluable cultural heritage, and of course the special tourist identity of our destinations,” Kountoura said.
In the meantime, UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai said in a video message that Greece was the ideal destination to host the event… “the Silk Road as a major historic route is attracting ever-increasing international interest” and expressed the conviction that the “meeting in Alexandroupolis will be a step in the planning of common policies and the creation of important tourism collaborations in the wider region.
Heading the UNWTO Silk Road Program, Alla Peressolova underlined that Greece is one of the most active members of the Western Silk Road revival project, which will connect countries and strengthen relations with each other, link world heritage monuments, create thousands of jobs and contribute to the eradication of poverty.