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UNWTO will seek to rebalance global tourism by promoting lesser-known places

The global tourism body is encouraging travellers to seek out new places for their holidays instead of familiar locations.

Venice is one of the world's most at-risk destinations to overtourism.

The United Nations is urging the world’s travellers to broaden their minds and their perspectives by exploring unchartered corners of the world instead of flocking to familiar places in massive numbers and fuelling global ‘overtourism’.

Launched during last week’s World Tourism Day celebrations in the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation’s (UNWTO) new ‘Tourism Opens Minds’ campaign aims to provide greater exposure to the world’s lesser known destinations to encourage a greater balance.

"To ensure true global prosperity, we must work together to ensure that every country can harness the potential of a thriving tourism industry,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili.

“The sector serves as a unifying force, fostering cultural understanding, strengthening bonds between societies, and championing environmental preservation.

"The 'Tourism Opens Minds' initiative extends a compelling invitation for travellers to broaden their horizons and explore the uncharted corners of our world. By doing so, it not only reveals the beauty of diverse destinations but also nurtures an appreciation for the cultures and people who call these places home.”

The UNWTO is encouraging travellers to seek out new places to create a balance.

According to the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, international visitor numbers around the world are set to recover to 95 percent of their pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2023.

The new campaign comes on the back of a new study by YouGov which found that 66 percent of tourists prefer to holiday somewhere they have been before due to already being familiar with its surroundings, with less than half saying they prefer to go somewhere completely new each time.

But the same poll revealed that 83 percent of those who do visit new places come back with a changed perspective and a greater likelihood of continuing that pattern.

Delegates at the World Tourism Day event collectively pledged to make lesser-known places more appealing and welcoming and to promote these lesser-known corners.

Despite the push towards promoting less visited parts of the world, the UNWTO recently opted not to add Venice, one of the world’s destinations most at risk of overtourism, to its list of World Heritage sites in danger.

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Written by: Matt Lennon
Published: 3 October 2023

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