Around 20 international professionals will meet in Madrid between 30 November-2 December to share ideas, debate and explore the challenges and trends to boost cultural tourism. They will also draw up conclusions and set out their recommendations for cultural and tourism destination managers, all of which will be presented in a report next January at the International Tourism Trade Fair (FITUR).
The rise of cultural tourism has led to a number of challenges for destinations, all of which will be addressed in the Madrid meeting. Experts will also examine the growing importance of a holistic tourist-cultural experience, recognizing that a visit to a museum, monument or show does not begin at the entrance door, but is the responsibility of a destination’s entire tourism system. The role of tourism promotion, cooperation with the private sector, the appropriation of cultural resources and the fragility of the intangible will also be discussed.
Recognizing tangible and intangible values
Ion Vilcu, Director of the UNWTO Affiliate Members Department, stresses the importance of this conversation because “the focus is often placed on tangible cultural heritage, and intangible cultural values remain in the background, even when they inherent to the tangible ones. However, the intangible is an important attraction for visitors, precisely because of its unique, exotic, intangible and, in many cases, ephemeral nature.”
As such, aspects such as gastronomy, handicrafts, forms of production, folklore, linguistic heritage, among others, are important cultural resources for destinations, which, without sustainable management, can easily become blurred or even distorted.
Madrid tourism returns
The Comunidad de Madrid formalized its accession to the UNWTO as an Affiliate Member in 2021, through the public entity for the management and promotion of Madrid’s tourism sector Madrid Cultura y Turismo SAU. This global meeting, in addition to deepening the needs of cultural tourism, will help to project the region internationally as a tourist destination, recognizing the specific weight that Madrid’s culture represents in attracting tourists from all corners of the planet. It will also strengthen the image of the Community of Madrid and contribute to consolidating the recovery of the tourism sector which, according to the latest official data, by July of this year had recovered 100% of international visitors compared to the same period in 2019.