Tourist guides from World Heritage Sites in Iran participated in the “World Heritage Specialist Guide Training Program” in Kermanshah from 04 to 08 August 2019 to upgrade their knowledge of World Heritage Sites and acquire new skills needed to become a specialized World Heritage tour guide. The participants composed a mixed group coming from the Iranian Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) and the Iranian Federation of Tourist Guides Association (IFTGA), thus bringing together the private and government sectors to exchange on best tourism practices and issues affecting the cultural tourism industry.
“UNESCO believes that World Heritage and tourism stakeholders share a joint responsibility for the conservation of our common cultural and natural heritage through appropriate tourism management,” stated Mr. Cvetan Cvetkovski, Officer-in-charge of the UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office, in his opening speech. Along the same lines, Dr. Talebian, Deputy for Cultural Heritage of the Iranian Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) emphasized, “tourist guides are the best protectors of historical sites and a balance between tourism and conservation should always be considered in World Heritage Sites”.
The workshop addressed a number of topics including heritage conservation, interpretation, tourism management and local community participation. The first two days focused on the key concepts of the 1972 Convention, including the criteria for inscription in the World Heritage List and the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV). The workshop continued with important information on conservation and preservation of heritage sites and concluded with the key skills needed to be a professional tour guide: presentation, interpretation and influencing visitor’s behavior. As part of the training, ICHHTO organized a site visit in Bisotoun World Heritage Site for all the participants.
A number of lectures from Iranian cultural heritage experts enriched the training program and provided the participants with a unique insight on World Heritage Sites in Iran. In a keynote lecture, Dr. Talebian (the Deputy for Cultural Heritage of ICHHTO) provided an overview of the Iranian sites inscribed in the World Heritage List, explaining also the process of inscription in the World Heritage List and some key elements of the 1972 Convention. Mr. Azizi (Director of World Heritage Office at ICHHTO) shared with the audience some challenges and opportunities on tourism management at World Heritage sites in Iran. Finally, Mr. Ejraei (site manager of Bisotun World Heritage Site) presented the Bisotun World Heritage Site to the participants in preparation for the field trip to the site scheduled as part of the program.
Mr. Cvetan Cvetkovski (Officer-in-charge of the UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office) concluded by “expressing the strong commitment of UNESCO in standing side by side with Iran to ensure that World Heritage Sites are preserved for the future generations and that sustainable cultural tourism benefits the country and the many visitors traveling to explore this beautiful land.”
This workshop was the first of the many initiatives that in the following three years will be organized under the EU-funded project “Silk Roads Heritage Corridors in Afghanistan, Central Asia and Iran- the International Dimension of the European Year of Cultural Heritage” implemented by UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office in close collaboration with the Iranian Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization.
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