Tourism and Culture

The Twenty-second session of the UNWTO General Assembly in Chengdu, China (11 to 16 September 2017), adopted the following definition for cultural tourism:

“Cultural tourism is a type of tourism activity in which the visitor’s essential motivation is to learn, discover, experience and consume the tangible and intangible cultural attractions/products in a tourism destination.

These attractions/products relate to a set of distinctive material, intellectual, spiritual and emotional features of a society that encompasses arts and architecture, historical and cultural heritage, culinary heritage, literature, music, creative industries and the living cultures with their lifestyles, value systems, beliefs and traditions.”

The Global Code of Ethics for Tourism (Article 4) prescribes the protection of natural, artistic, archaeological and cultural heritage, to allow traditional cultural products, crafts and folklore to survive and flourish, rather than causing them to degenerate and become standardised.

“In the thousands of years chronicling mankind’s progress, civilizations have flourished and fallen, and in their wake, left legacies bearing their indelible mark in the history of the world. These legacies showcase the pinnacle of mankind’s abilities, be they in outstanding monuments or in the uniqueness of paintings and music. Heritage tells mankind’s story. Tourism enlivens this heritage.”

Zurab Pololikashvili Secretary-General, World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

 3rd UNWTO/UNESCO World Conference on Tourism and Culture ‘for the Benefit of All’

The focus of the 3rd UNWTO/UNESCO World Conference on Tourism and Culture ‘for the Benefit of All’, which was held in Istanbul, Turkey on 3-5 December 2018 was:

  • creating more inclusive partnerships between tourism and culture stakeholders that contribute to SDG implementation; and
  • promoting tourism development that encourages cultural interaction and ensures the benefits are shared by all communities involved.

With a specific focus on technology and visitor management models, the Conference further aimed at understanding how to bring the widest possible range of benefits to both visitors and locals, while safeguarding cultural values and heritage in line with responsible tourism principles and the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism.

The Conference ultimately underscored how cultural tourism can make an important contribution to the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in terms of poverty reduction, fighting inequality and promoting inclusive growth.

Download the Istanbul Declaration:






This third edition of the UNWTO/UNESCO World Conference builds on the outcomes of the two previous editions of this event and their respective Declarations: the 2015 Siem Reap Declaration, which recommended closer and targeted partnerships between stakeholders of culture and of tourism; and the 2017 Muscat Declaration, which committed its endorsees to enhancing the contribution of tourism and culture in national SDG strategies.

Visit the event websiteHere


Links to the previous Conferences on Tourism and Culture: