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Florence Declaration

Resolution 19GA 2017/20 - “The Florence Declaration on Cultural Heritage Conservation and Sustainable Tourism for Development”

The 19th General Assembly of ICOMOS, 

Recalling the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017 (IYSTD); UNWTO’s Chengdu Declaration on “Tourism and the Sustainable Development Goals”, adopted 13 September 2017; and UNESCO’s Hangzhou Declaration on “Placing Culture at the Heart of Sustainable Development Policies”, adopted 17 May 2013; 

Recognising that the UNESCO UNWTO Siem Reap “Declaration on Tourism and Culture - Building a New Partnership Model”, 5 February 2015, made an important contribution to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2030 and highlights the importance of relationships between tourism and heritage sectors at national government and international institutional levels, reaffirming commitment to new partnership models between tourism and culture whilst promoting and protecting cultural heritage, aiming to foster sustainable development through cultural routes, to establish closer linkages between tourism, living cultures and cultural and creative industries, and to support the contribution of cultural tourism to urban development; 

Acknowledging the Statement by ICOMOS on the Adoption of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, 8 October 2015 and the ICOMOS Concept Note “Cultural Heritage, the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and the New Urban Agenda”, February 2016;

Recalling the historical decision by UNWTO to approve a Framework Convention on Tourism Ethics, 15 September 2017, on the responsibilities of all stakeholders in the development of sustainable tourism, recommending an ethical and sustainable mode of operation including the right to tourism, the freedom of movement for tourists and the rights of employees and professionals;

Accepting that the UNESCO World Heritage Convention 1972 only mentions tourism once, in the context of threats potentially warranting the inclusion of a site in the List of World Heritage Sites in Danger, whilst the 2016 Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention cover tourism in terms of visitor management and providing appropriate facilities and interpretation for visitors, emphasising the potential economic benefits tourism can bring to World Heritage destinations;

Building on ICOMOS charters, declarations and reports, specifically the International Charter for the Conservation and Restoration of Monuments and Sites (The Venice Charter, 1964), The Nara Document on Authenticity (1994, jointly developed by UNESCO, ICCROM and ICOMOS), International Cultural Tourism Charter – Managing Tourism at Places of Heritage Significance (1999), the Paris Declaration on Heritage as a Driver of Development (2011), ICOMOS-IUCN Connecting Practice Report (2015), the “Our Common Dignity: advancing rights-based approaches to heritage conservation” report presented to ICOMOS Advisory Committee (2016);

Restating the importance and continuing relevance of the almost 20-year-old ICOMOS International Cultural Tourism Charter which, in acknowledging tourism as a vehicle for cultural exchange, a personal experience, not only of that which has survived from the past, but of the contemporary life and society of others, and also acknowledging the need to provide a worthwhile visitor experience, presaged the broadening of the concept of cultural heritage and the need for promotion of authentic products and programmes of host communities and also the wide enjoyment of the heritage of others as an inclusive and no longer elitist leisure pastime;

Noting that through an emphasis on stakeholder involvement with communities of interest, the Nara+20 process “On heritage practices, cultural values, and the concept of authenticity” (2015) implicitly signals the diminishing role played by the State in the heritage field, and by extension that of the expert and the scientific discourse from which modern conservation evolved;

Affirming the importance of the role and responsibilities of tourists as major stakeholders in safeguarding and protecting cultural heritage and cultural diversity through their multiple and dynamic interactions with the places they visit and the people they encounter in formal and informal settings at a destination, an inter-relationship expressed by Irina Bokova, former Director-General UNESCO: “Every tourist must be a custodian of world heritage, an ambassador of intercultural dialogue. This is why safeguarding cultural heritage must move forward with sustainable tourism”;

Taking into account the economic influence of private sector interests on conservation decision-making and priorities relating to the historic built environment, living heritage in urban areas and on individual monuments and sites;

Taking also into account the public sector’s focus on cultural tourism development within strategic planning processes designed to redevelop, reenergise and encourage community enterprise as part of the regeneration initiatives which all too frequently lead to the gentrification and homogenisation of historic urban landscapes and disappearance of local communities in favour of the creation of the 21st century phenomenon of the “tourist historic city” (UN Sustainable Development Goals Target 11.4);

Reiterating that heritage is a way by which societies culturally value, represent and understand the past and is widely recognised as an increasingly important resource not only produced, exhibited and consumed, but also key in shaping, projecting and challenging identities at all levels from that of the individual to the nation state; and that there is a danger that without a set of parameters for cultural heritage and tourism development in this era described as “mass cultural tourism” the balance may shift in favour of exploitation at the expense of shaping identities;

Conscious too that in creating and providing local cultural products and services to visitors (e.g. in creative hubs), cultural heritage is a key source of job creation and poverty alleviation worldwide in towns and cities and across rural territories, in line with Target 8.9 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals which promotes culture as defining distinctiveness and difference for visitor engagement at a tourism destination and which is enhanced by authenticity, integrity and sustainable practices;

Requests the ICOMOS Board to support, in the context of tourism, the formulation of a framework for an integrated place-based approach to protecting and safeguarding tangible and intangible cultural heritage; encouraging empowerment of multi-cultural and mono-cultural and indigenous communities; and developing various methods of directly or indirectly engaging visitors to contribute to enhancement of respect and safeguard of tangible and intangible heritage values, contributing to a shared experience that explicitly or implicitly supports heritage conservation, and that we contend is an essential prerequisite for distinctive self-confident communities, as well as individual well-being;

Invites the ICOMOS Board, in collaboration with IUCN, ICCROM, UNESCO, UNWTO and other international bodies concerned with setting standards for heritage conservation, to formulate an agenda to provide a framework document to address pertinent issues and provide guidance on Cultural Heritage Conservation and Sustainable Tourism for Development, including: 
- Management of the visitor experience to support sustainable tourism for development; 
- Planning to enable positive interactions between local people and visitors; 
- Regulation to counter over-tourism in historic towns and cities and iconic World Heritage sites; 
- Guidance on the appropriate use of replicas; 
- Promotion and engagement of visitors in conservation practices and activities; 
- Parameters for immersive living heritage experiences; 
- Awareness of decision-making priorities for conservation in the sustainable tourism context; 
- Measures to promote many varied and creative conservation achievements relating to the historic environment;
 - Methodologies for harmonising the exploitation of cultural and natural heritage resources with their protection; 
- Local economic development that complements and enhances heritage values rather than abuses and diminishes them; 
- Inclusion of cultural resource management practices in visitor management at natural heritage destinations; 
- Participation of tourists in supporting communities in heritage reconstruction following natural disasters and armed conflict

Confirms the position stated by ICOMOS to UNWTO in response to the invitation from UNWTO to contribute to the Discussion Paper on “Sustainable Tourism for Development” (June 2017), “For ICOMOS it is axiomatic that where cultural heritage is concerned tourism development cannot be described as sustainable if heritage protection, safeguarding and actions in favour of conservation are compromised over the short, medium and long term.”