Muscat – Misfat al Abriyeen in the wilayat of Al Hamra in Dhakhliyah governorate has been chosen as one of the Best Tourism Villages by World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
The Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO initiative was launched to advance the role of tourism in safeguarding rural villages, along with their landscapes, natural and cultural diversity, and their local values and activities, including local gastronomy.
The best examples of villages embracing tourism to provide opportunities and drive sustainable development was celebrated at the UNWTO General Assembly in Madrid on Thursday.
A total of 44 villages from 32 countries across five world regions were granted the recognition in 2021. All of them stand out for their natural and cultural resources as well as for their innovative and transformative actions and commitment to the development of tourism in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.
Misfat al Abriyeen is a mountainous village located 1,000m above sea level in the foothills surrounding Al Hamra. It has become a tourist attraction in rece-nt years due to its location as well as picturesque setting among old and ruined houses built atop solid rock foundations. The village also has agricultural terraces, alleys and a walking trail that crisscrosses plantations and mud houses still being used by locals.
The villages were evaluated by an independent UNWTO advisory board based on a set of criteria covering nine areas: Cultural and Natural Resources; Promotion and Conservation of Cultural Resources; Economic Sustainability; Social Sustainability; Environmental Sustainability; Tourism Potential and Development and Value Chain Integration; Governance and Prioritisation of Tourism; Infrastructure and Connectivity; and Health, Safety and Security.
All of the 44 chosen villages scored a total of 80 or more points out of a possible 100.
“Tourism can be a driver of social cohesion and inclusion by promoting a fairer distribution of benefits throughout the territory and empowering local communities,” said Zurab Pololikashvili, secretary-general of UNWTO. “This initiative recognises those villages committed to making tourism a strong driver of their development and wellbeing.”
The Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO initiative includes three main pillars.
The Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO: It recognises villages which are an outstanding example of a rural tourism destination with recognised cultural and natural assets that preserve and promote rural and community- bas- ed values, products and lifestyle and have a clear commitment to innovation and sustainability in all its aspects – economic, social and environmental.
The Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO Upgrade Programme: The Upgrade Programme benefits a number of villages that do not fully meet the criteria to receive the recognition. These villages receive support from UNWTO and its partners in improving elements of the areas identified as gaps in the evaluation process.
The Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO Network: The network provides a space for exchanging experiences and good practices, learnings and opportunities.