An enthusiastic response from high level local and international tourism and handicrafts experts has brought more than 500 participants from 35 countries to the world’s first Conference on Tourism and Handicrafts opened last Saturday in Tehran.Its aim is to define the links between handicrafts and tourism.
This three day International Conference is organized by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the Iran Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (ICHTO) with the support of UNESCO and will focus on employment opportunities, alleviation of poverty and discovering new ways to promote tourism and handicrafts.
In his inauguration speech, Taleb Rifai, UNWTO Deputy Secretary-General referred to the Conference as a ground breaking event: ‘Tourism and handicrafts have a great effect on the lives of the people in today’s world’, he said, ‘and Iran, with its great historical heritage, is a natural choice as the host country for this conference.’
He continued: ‘Tourism is the 21st century’s number one industry, and handicrafts is one of the fastest-growing activity. The combination of the two is irresistible and the challenges are tremendous.’
‘Handicrafts form a vital component of tourism world wide. They are a multi-billion dollar industry which provides the livelihood of millions of craftsmen and women. Tourists increasingly want to buy genius local crafts and in doing so provide work and help to protect the culture of the host country,’ he added.
‘Handicrafts and their interactions with tourism can be used as an instrument in creating a dialogue between peoples and nations in the coming global society. The First International Conference on Tourism and Handicrafts is a suitable measure in achieving this goal,” said Esfandyar Rahim Mashaee, Vice President of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the President of Iran Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization. He added: ‘Promotion and reviving of handicrafts is an indispensable factor in revitalizing tourism.’
The aim of the Conference is to raise recognition of the importance and role of local handicrafts for tourism development and reciprocally the importance of tourism as an agent for the protection and preservation of traditional crafts, methods of production and culture.
Above all, the Conference aims at addressing how handicrafts and tourism could serve to reduce poverty especially in remote rural areas within a broader framework of achieving the Millennium Development Goals.