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1976 ICOMOS Cultural Tourism Charter

The 1976 ICOMOS Cultural Tourism Charter was adopted as the result of the International Seminar on Contemporary Tourism and Humanism held in Brussels the 8th and 9th November of 1976. It can be considered the first international document focused on the need for a responsible tourist approach to cultural heritage and it also anticipated the recognition of sites and monuments as a source of economic benefit and cultural education. Having this double approach as a basis, this charter was an early precedent to raise awareness about tourism’s future grown and influence on heritage sites:“Tourism is an irreversible social, human, economic and cultural fact. Its influence in the sphere of monuments and sites is particularly important and can but increase because of the known conditions of that activity's development” (section 1.4).

Equally, it was a pioneer document regarding the ethical, economical and multifaceted aspects of this activity, clearly stating that “The respect of heritage must take precedence over any other considerations however justified these may be from a social, political or economic point of view” (article 4.1).
Among its most important achievements, it is also important to stress that it advocated for the education of tourists and young people about the value of monuments and encouraged the training of those responsible for developing and implementing tourist use of heritage sites too. And last, but not least, one of its most remarkable outcomes was the broad consensus reached by the document, signed by a large number of institutions, in the first known effort to gather both the tourism industry and the main international organizations concerning heritage protection. Among which ICOMOS, the IUCN, the International Union of Architects (UIA), Europa Nostra, the European Travel Commission (ETC), Académie International du Tourisme (ACIT), Alliance International du Tourisme (AIT), Association Internationale d'Experts Scientifiques du Tourisme, the World Tourism Organization (WTO at that time/ UNWTIO today), and many others".