(Washington, D.C, December 9, 2013) Steve Noakes, Co-Chair of the GSTC Knowledge Network, Education & Training (KNET) Working Group contributed to the sustainability agenda at the inaugural UNWTO Spiritual Tourism and Sustainable Development Conference hosted with the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism in Ninh Binh, Vietnam from 21 - 22 November 2013.
Spiritual tourism includes travel for pilgrimage, religious or secular purpose to a holy, natural or war memorial site. In some major pilgrimage destinations it results in the movement of millions of people in confined times and places, raising complex issues on sustainability within host destinations.
"This is a turning point in a subset that contributes with hundreds of millions of visitors to the world´s key sites every year and the first conference that will explore how motivations, traditions and beliefs can be integrated in the context of sustainable tourism" explained Steve.
"Segmenting this market in terms of spiritual or cultural motivations and managing the impacts of the visitors is necessary for tourism development, safeguarding living traditions of local communities while providing tourists, unique experiences" he concluded.