Samarkand is preparing to host the 25th United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) General Assembly, which will take place 16- 20 October 2023. Uzbekistan was chosen as the host country for the first time during the 24th General Assembly in Madrid, Spain, in 2021.
The UNWTO General Assembly is held every two years and gathers the top representatives of the Organization’s Member States, as well as world tourism leaders from the public and private sectors, local authorities, academia and media. The aim of the event is to discuss the issues of international cooperation in the field of tourism, which will be debated at panel sessions as well as a number of other large-scale conferences organised within the framework of the General Assembly.
Samarkand is located in south-eastern Uzbekistan, in the Zarafshan River valley, 270 km away from Tashkent. In ancient times, Samarkand referred to as Afrasiab and it is considered one of the oldest cities in Central Asia. Evidence of settlements in the region goes back to 1,500 BC, with Samarkand having its most significant development in the Timurid period, from the 14th to the 15th century, when it was capital of the powerful Temorid realm.
The monuments in the city have been preserved and are the main tourist attractions of the entire Central Asian region.H.E. Dilyor Khakimov, Ambassador of Uzbekistan to the Benelux Countries, EU and NATO
Being a key connecting city on the Silk Road, Samarkand is considered as a cradle for trade, culture and science. The city with its ancient buildings was referred to as an open-air museum. Splendid portals, vast coloured domes and remarkable exterior decorations in majolica, mosaic, marble and gold form part of its architectural heritage, designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2001.
2. Global Forum on Education
UNWTO is hosting the Global Forum on Education to prioritise education and highlight the vital connection between education and tourism development. This event aims to showcase the current state of education in the tourism sector, underlining the importance of investing in skill development and creating inclusive opportunities for all. By recognizing the significance of investing in tourism education, the session seeks to drive sustainable growth and excellence in the industry.
With a spotlight on identifying opportunities for shaping new policies and effective instruments to support inclusive and sustainable tourism development, closing the skill gap and fostering value-added jobs, the forum aspires to shape a progressive educational landscape. The event will showcase key UNWTO activities such as the innovative education toolkit, the new Bachelor of Science in International Sustainable Tourism and additional initiatives designed by UNWTO with top industry academic partners for secondary, tertiary and executive education, highlighting the latest advancements in each domain.
In addition, the forum will feature the highly anticipated Ulysses Awards, honouring exceptional achievements and initiatives in the field of tourism education. Being established in 2003, the Prize is awarded to a distinguished scholar with outstanding achievements and remarkable contributions to the tourism sector.
3. Tourism Investment Forum
The UNWTO Tourism Investment Forum will bring together global stakeholders, industry leaders and investors to explore opportunities within the tourism sector. With a focus on the UNWTO Enabling Framework for Global Investments and the official launch of the Investment Guidelines for Uzbekistan, the event aims to equip participants with the necessary tools to identify, enable and mobilize tourism investments. It also seeks to generate new insights for policymaking, addressing existing barriers and uncovering emerging opportunities while encouraging sustainable investments in the tourism sector.
[We] will present the facilities, regions and projects with high investment potential in all regions of our country to major foreign investors.Tourism Committee of Uzbekistan
“As an outcome of the event, it is expected to promote sustainable development by increasing the volume of investments in our country, further increasing the investment potential of our country and strengthening cooperation across sectors on a global scale”, the Tourism Committee of Uzbekistan has revealed. “Along with this, while preserving the rich cultural heritage and natural resources of Uzbekistan, it is planned to attract investments that will contribute to the economic growth of our country.”
4. Best Tourism Villages
The Best Tourism Villages will also be announced amid the General Assembly. The yearly award recognizes rural destinations which stand out for their commitment to sustainability in all its aspects – economic, social and environmental – and to the preservation and promotion of community-based values with the aim of making tourism a driver of rural development and well-being.
As in previous editions, the Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO 2023 Ceremony will gather high-level representatives of the Member States with villages awarded with the recognition this year as well as representatives of the villages.
5. Guided tours
The Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Uzbekistan will offer tours to a number of unique places in Samarkand on 20 October 2023. Delegates are highly recommended to take part in these tours, which represent an exceptional opportunity to discover the touristic and cultural diversity of ancient Samarkand – the Crossroad of Cultures, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The full day tours start in the morning of 20 October, while the half day tours will start in the afternoon of the same day.