Western Silk Road Tourism Academic Network

The creation of the Western Silk Road Tourism Academic Network (Network) was announced during the 2nd International UNWTO Western Silk Road Workshop in Bulgaria (June 2017). Under the coordination of the UNWTO Silk Road Programme, nine universities have joined forces and are academically exploring the potential of the Western Silk Road as a transnational tourism concept. The Academic Network supports the Western Silk Road Working Group and partner destinations through joint research and the creation of practical tourism intelligence.

The Network is the offspring of the UNWTO/EU Western Silk Road Tourism Development Initiative - a pioneering and ground-breaking project led by UNWTO Silk Road Programme that introduced the Western Silk Road to the tourism world. Through this project, UNWTO Silk Road Programme collaborated closely and efficiently with Academia. It established synergies with universities who conducted SWOT Analyses on the Western Silk Road tourism potential of their country. 
Should you wish to access the SWOTs, please follow the link here.

Following universities are already collaborating: Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece); ISTHIA University of Toulouse (France); University of Bologna (Italy); University of Kerbala (Iraq); University of Kragujevac (Serbia); People’s Friendship University (Russia); Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University (Russia) and the University of Valencia (Spain).

The increased interest of our academic partners from Thessaloniki, Greece, in developing Silk Road tourism intelligence has led to the establishment of the “European Interdisciplinary Silk Road Tourism Centre” on 29 August 2017 at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTh), by unanimous decision of the Senate of the University. The overall aim of the “European Interdisciplinary Silk Road Tourism Centre” is to promote international synergies and regional cooperation perspectives, encourage interdisciplinary research on how to enhance prospects for tourism development initiatives and cross-border collaboration, as well as cultural exchanges among countries on the Silk Road, based upon scientific documentation and analysis of the Silk Road cultural heritage. More information can be found here.

The UNWTO Silk Road Programme, in cooperation with ISTHIA – Toulouse School of Tourism, Hospitality Management and Food Studies, University of Toulouse – Jean Jaurès, launched the UNWTO Western Silk Road University Challenge, an activity that takes place in Toulouse, France during the academic year 2017 - 2018. During that period, the bachelor students, guided by ISTHIA professors, will analyse the historical involvement of the French territories within the Silk Road network, assess the Silk Road impact on French culture, and prepare an inventory of Western Silk Road heritage in France. More information can be found here.

Silk Road partners interested in joining the Academic Network are kindly advised to contact the Silk Road Programme. Member States are also encouraged to inform their universities and research institutions, as credited partners will not only benefit from increased collaboration in the field of research but also practically contribute to the development of transnational tourism projects, supporting hereby further integration throughout the region.

For information on how to become a member of the Western Silk Road Tourism Academic Network and its Terms of Reference, please contact silkroad@unwto.org