AlUla hosts inaugural UNWTO’s Best Tourism Villages event

AlUla hosts inaugural UNWTO’s Best Tourism Villages event

AlUla Old Town District was recognised in December as one of UNWTO’s Best Tourism Villages

AlUla in Saudi Arabia is hosting the inaugural meeting of representatives of the Best Tourism Villages (BTV) by UNWTO. The Best Tourism Villages Award Ceremony is taking place 12 to 13 March 2023.

The Best Tourism Villages, including AlUla Old Town District, were recognised in December as part of UNWTO’s Best Tourism Villages (BTV) initiative. Aimed at promoting rural tourism, the initiative recognises villages that preserve and promote rural and community-based values and products, and are committed to innovation and sustainability.


The event is a forum for knowledge-sharing on topics such as best practices, community empowerment and public-private partnerships. The programme’s 2022 activities and 2023 work plan will also be reviewed and established.

Delegates from countries ranging from Switzerland to Vietnam have gathered at AlUla’s Maraya multi-purpose venue, which holds the Guinness record as the world’s largest mirror-clad building, with mirrors covering its 9,740-square-metre surface. The UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili, is also expected to attend.

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Saudi Minister of Tourism HE Ahmed Al Khateeb said: “The Ministry is proud to partner with UNWTO to host the Best Tourism Villages 2022 Awards Ceremony and jointly convene the first meeting of the BTV Network in the historic destination of AlUla, one of the villages across the globe recognised for its innovative approach to transforming the tourism sector.”

Pololikashvili added: “For rural communities everywhere, tourism can be a true game-changer in providing jobs, supporting local businesses and keeping traditions alive. The Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO showcases the power of the sector to drive economic diversification and create opportunities for all outside of big cities.”

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