The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijan Tourism Association hosts the “Flavours of the Silk Road: International Conference on Food, Culture and Tourism” at Baku’s iconic Jumeirah Bilgah Beach Resort.
The conference attended by the Secretary General of the World Trade Organization Taleb Rifai, has brought together representatives from tourism ministries, national tourism offices, tourism officials, experts and grass roots practitioners from across the Silk Road countries to share best practices and discuss how the Silk Road destinations can enhance their competitiveness through food tourism.
This conference, which takes place 6 - 7 September 2012 in Baku, is dedicated to highlighting the huge potential of the Silk Road region for food and intangible culture tourism. Silk Road destinations are widely recognised for the main sites of built heritage – but the Silk Road region is home to a rich diversity of food and cultural tradition.
As a recent distinctive trend in tourism, culinary or food tourism has the potential to significantly contribute to the development of sustainable tourism products. Without requiring major investments, food tourism can effectively promote the cultural and culinary heritage of a destination and this way boost tourism developments.
This conference is dedicated to highlighting the huge potential of the Silk Road region for food and intangible culture tourism. The conference started with the presentation of a video featuring the history and current development of the ancient Silk Road countries.
In his opening remarks, Minister of Culture and Tourism of the host country Abulfaz Garayev noted that Azerbaijan is a member of the WTO’s Silk Road program. Over the centuries, the Silk Road played an important role in the exchange of achievements in the field of culture, ideas, technology and human resources between the East and the West. The purpose of the Silk Road is to promote a sustainable tourism development through joint efforts in the countries located in this ancient route.
The minister stressed that the conference will help explore the potentialities of the Silk Road in the area of ??cooking and cultural tourism.
Speaking about the development of tourism in Azerbaijan, the minister said tourists’ flows to Azerbaijan grow by 10 to 15 percent every year. The minister said, during the two-day conference guests will visit the regions of our country and get acquainted with the kitchen and the historical and cultural traditions of the various peoples of Azerbaijan.
Hailing the organization of the conference, WTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai said that the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev pays much attention to the development of tourism in the country. Rifai also stressed the importance of cooking in the development of tourism.
Iranian Vice President, Chairman of the Cultural Heritage and Culture of Iran Sayed Hassan Mousavi spoke about the importance of the conference, and praised the high level of its organization.
Conference highlights include the issues related to the significant export potential of food, agriculture, viniculture along the Silk Road, with a particular focus on small medium enterprises; how food tourism can stimulate investment, infrastructure development and trans boundary cooperation; how the new media and social networks can help the development of sustainable tourism along the Silk Road and others.
The underlying purpose of this conference is to promote collaborative initiatives and partnership building. The conference is a unique opportunity to meet key stakeholders in the fields of food, culture and tourism.