Western Silk Road Tourism Initiative

As part of the Enhancing the Understanding of European Tourism project, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has officially launched the UNWTO/EU Western Silk Road Tourism Development Initiative, an ambitious tourism project aimed at revitalizing the Silk Road heritage located in the European region,  from the Caspian Sea, around the Black Sea and along parts of the Mediterranean basin.
The project is designed to strengthen and diversify the tourism offer of Western Silk Road destinations as well as enhance regional cooperation and cross-border partnerships. Within an 18-month timeframe, following key elements will be delivered:
Element 1: Research on the Potential of the Western Silk Road and Handbook for Development of the Western Silk Road. The research examines the tourism potential of the Western Silk Road, studies existing usage of the Silk Road identity, audits connections through tangible and intangible heritage in key destinations and develops concepts to strengthen the use of the Silk Road Brand to bring benefits. The Hanbook outlines and assesses the potential of a Western Silk Road tourism brand.  
Element 2: Organization of two Western Silk Road Capacity Building Workshops. Based on the findings of the research, these capacity building workshops will aim to attract as many interested stakeholders as possible - Silk Road destinations (national, regional and local), tour operators, SMEs, academic institutions, etc. - and focus on joint training and the development of new tourism partnerships.
The 1st International Western Silk Road Workshop is to be held in Alexandroupoli, Greece on 26-27 April 2017. The workshop is jointly organized by UNWTO, the Ministry of Tourism of Greece and the region of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace of Greece
The 2nd Western Silk Road Workshop took place in Sofia, Bulgaria on 27-28 June 2017. 
Both these phases will be accompanied by the establishment of a Western Silk Road Working Group open to public and private stakeholders alike. The overall aim of the workgroup is to ensure the efficacy and long-term viability of the project through active support and participation, such as assistance in the development of the handbook through input and ideas, participation in the capacity building workshops and utilization of the Western Silk Road brand in future tourism projects partnerships.
Element 3: Western Silk Road development at the national level
Individual countries and destinations will be assisted in developing a Silk Road strategy through the establishment of a Western Silk Road Work group aimed at supporting collaborative initiatives under the umbrella of the Western Silk Road Tourism Development Initiative.
‘Enhancing the Understanding of European Tourism’ Project 
‘Enhancing the Understanding of European Tourism’ is a joint project by UNWTO and the Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs of the European Commission (DG GROW). The project aims to improve the socio-economic knowledge of the tourism sector: enhance the understanding of European tourism and contribute towards economic growth, job creation, and thus improving the competitiveness of the sector in Europe. The project includes three components: 1) increased cooperation and capacity building in tourism statistics; 2) assessment of tourism market trends; 3) promotion of cultural tourism through the Western Silk Road and; 4) promoting sustainable, responsible, accessible and ethical tourism. 
The project is co-financed with the European Union’s COSME Programme (2014-2020) funds and will run until February 2018.
Additional information:
08/2016 - 12/2017