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From the Silk Road to the trans-Siberian railway, travellers are turning to lesser known locations for immersive authentic experiences of different cultures. These regions are happy to welcome visitors on their own terms, especially as tourism can be a great boost to the local economy. One such area is Tusheti National Park in Georgia, selected to be part of World Monuments Fund 2020 Watch Programme, a list of at-risk cultural heritage sites of major significance. Tusheti’s unblemished landscapes, medieval stone towers, and the transhumance lifestyle of the indigenous Tush community has seen it soar in popularity in recent years. But how can we ensure an influx of new visitors doesn’t overwhelm local resources and destroy the unique character of a place?
This special event, organised by World Monuments Fund and Intelligence Squared, explored the delicate balancing act between promoting tourism in undiscovered areas, and ensuring the local inhabitants, buildings and environment are not negatively affected by increased footfall. The conversation also covered established tourist destinations such as Petra, the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu, and explored the ways these attractions can continue to accommodate high visitor numbers without damage to the built environment. Furthermore, as we emerge from lockdown and are allowed to travel again, people are becoming more conscious about how their holidays impact the environment. Is it ethical to get back on planes to see the wider world? Or should we continue to book the more climate-friendly staycations that the pandemic has enforced?
We ere joined by a range of speakers, including explorer Benedict Allen, sustainability expert Juliet Kinsman and World Monuments Fund Britain Executive Director John Darlington.
Speakers subject to change.