The Department of Industry, Competitiveness and Business Development of the Government of Aragon, through the Directorate General of Tourism, has presented the towns of Alquézar (Huesca) and Cantavieja (Teruel) to the pilot initiative Best Tourism Villages of the World Tourism Organization, which aims to recognize those villages that are a remarkable example of rural tourism destination with recognized cultural and natural assets.
The choice of these two localities has been the result of coordination between the Government of Aragon and the Cluster of Sustainable Tourism in Aragon and has been made after a previous process of dissemination of this initiative among the Aragonese regions following the guidelines set by the project. Alquézar and Cantavieja have nationally, regionally and internationally recognized natural and cultural resources and are committed to the conservation and promotion of their cultural resources. Each autonomous community can present up to two candidatures, from which Spain, as a member state, will select a maximum of three, which it will present to the UNWTO.
The Vice-president and Minister of Industry, Arturo Aliaga, pointed out the importance of this type of initiative “to make visible Aragon’s commitment to tourism that values heritage and natural resources and is respectful of the environment”. In addition, Aliaga stressed that “Alquézar and Cantavieja represent perfectly, along with many other Aragonese towns, the type of tourism that can be found in our Community”, of which he recalled that “it helps to generate employment and wealth in the territory”.
Both municipalities are aligned with the Aragonese Tourism Sustainability Strategy and are committed to environmental sustainability. They also encourage initiatives that promote the preservation and conservation of their natural resources, minimizing the impact of tourism development on the environment. Alquézar and Cantavieja also have significant market potential and tourism resources. They promote the improvement of the tourism value chain and the competitiveness of the destination and are committed to making tourism a strategic pillar for rural development.
The selection process for the Best Tourism Villages program consists of three phases:
1st Phase: The CCAA will disseminate the bases of the call and will select from among the applications received those to be submitted to the Secretary of State for Tourism. Only two applications per Autonomous Community will be accepted.
2nd Phase: The SET will select up to a maximum of three candidatures among those submitted by the Autonomous Communities. For this purpose, an evaluation committee has been set up at the Secretariat of State for Tourism, chaired by the Secretary of State for Tourism or his designee, and made up of staff from SET, Turespaña, Segittur, the FEMP and Paradores. The three selected candidatures will be presented to the UNWTO.
3rd Phase: The candidatures presented will be examined by the UNWTO Secretariat to verify compliance with the admission criteria and the adequacy of the presentation process.
Applications that meet the eligibility criteria will be evaluated by an independent advisory committee. The call is open to applications from towns with the following characteristics:
Low population density and a population of no more than 15,000 (for the purpose of this requirement, the village must submit the population census for the latest year available).
Be located in a landscape with a significant presence of traditional activities such as agriculture, forestry, livestock or fishing.
Share the values and lifestyle of the community.
The selected villages will gain visibility and international recognition as notable examples of rural tourism destinations that preserve and promote their associated landscapes, knowledge systems, their biological and cultural diversity, their local values and activities (agriculture, forestry, livestock and/or fishing), including their gastronomy, and that have a clear commitment to sustainability in all its aspects -economic, social and environmental-, with the fundamental objective of making tourism one of the drivers of rural development and the well-being of the communities.
More information at https://www.unwto.org/tourism-villages/es/