As one of the world’s most powerful economic and social forces, tourism can and must strengthen the decisive role of heritage, both tangible and intangible, in contemporary society, consolidating cultural identity and diversity as key points of reference for the development of many destinations.

Natural and cultural heritage sites are now one of the main components of the world’s tourism assets. The ability of heritage assets to attract the attention of hundreds of millions of travellers every year helps to bring undeniable benefits and, at the same time, it can help to promote cultural diversity, universal values, security and the intercultural dialogue that is so necessary in today’s world.

The tourism sector is increasingly aware of the issues surrounding heritage conservation and the role of heritage as a key component of tourism products. Tourism must take into account the effects it has on cultural and natural heritage, actively sharing the responsibility and costs for their preservation, and forming partnerships for tourism that is more responsible towards our common heritage. Tourism must be a major contributor to preserve today’s treasures for tomorrow’s generations.

Heritage is one of the main drivers of tourism, and sustainable tourism must be understood as the driving force for heritage site development. Conserving, protecting and appreciating the worth of natural and cultural heritage, intelligently and responsibly, therefore offer an exceptional context for cooperation and innovation.

Contemporary tourism must pay particular attention to preserving the fragile intangible cultural heritage of destinations, transmitted through generations and constantly recreated, it provides humanity with a sense of identity and continuity. Promoting a responsible use of this living heritage for tourism generates new opportunities for local communities and indigenous peoples, although it can also open the door to its degeneration and standardization. Efficient mechanisms must be developed to encourage cultural dialogue in tourism with a view to ensure further preservation of the authenticity and integrity, including enhancing capabilities for transfer local knowledge through tourism.

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