India's Top 100 Digital Stars 2023

From Dhordo in India to Pozuzo in Peru, villages to visit to understand the respect for local culture

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has recently created a list of 54 villages located around the globe for their ability to preserve cultural and natural resources while using tourism as a motor for advancement and sustainability

Published: Nov 7, 2023 12:13:31 PM IST
Updated: Nov 7, 2023 12:14:24 PM IST

From Dhordo in India to Pozuzo in Peru, villages to visit to understand the respect for local cultureThere are a host of villages like Dhordo in India around the world that are working to preserve their natural assets and implement strategies to maintain their cultural and culinary traditions. Image: Sam Panthaky / AFP

If meeting local populations and supporting communities through responsible tourism are among your priorities for choosing a destination, you'll want to read this. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has recently created a list of 54 villages located around the globe for their ability to preserve cultural and natural resources while using tourism as a motor for advancement and sustainability.

While you may have heard of Tokaj, a Hungarian wine with its golden hue, you may not know about the village that gave its name to the famous nectar and to this wine-growing region, whose landscapes have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Meanwhile, the village of Hakuba in Nagano prefecture, in what are known as the Japanese Alps, has set itself the goal of becoming energy self-sufficient, in particular through the use of hydroelectric systems. These are two of the villages recognized in the latest list for maintaining their authenticity while embracing innovative and sustainable practices.

And there are a host of other examples of villages around the world that are working to preserve their natural assets and implement strategies to maintain their cultural and culinary traditions. Since 2021, the World Tourism Organization has been dedicating an initiative to the development of tourism in rural areas that preserve and promote their customs and traditions. Based on several sources including information received directly from local tourist boards, the UNWTO selected 54 villages from the 260 applications received by 2023) on the basis of various criteria, including the conservation of their cultural resources and the implementation of programs for economic and social sustainability. There are now 74 villages in the UNWTO Best Tourism Villages Network.

Also read: Vacation inspiration: Top travel destinations for 2024


While this distinction is a communication boon for these destinations, the label also is a useful tool for hikers, backpackers and other travelers in search of destinations that line up with their values in regard to respecting people and nature. At a time when more and more cities and regions are adopting restrictive measures to regulate the number of tourists to allow the environment time to regenerate, these awards also reaffirm the important role that tourism can represent both for a local economy and for people's livelihoods. "Tourism can be a powerful force for inclusivity, empowering local communities and distributing benefits across regions," explained UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili. He added, "this initiative acknowledges villages that have harnessed tourism as a catalyst for their development and well-being."

This list includes a number of good ideas for future getaways, such as a visit to the Vietnamese village of Tân Hoá, located in the north between Hanoi and Hué. Sadly very familiar with repeated episodes of flooding, the destination is setting an example with its floating house project, designed to help the local population adapt to climatic conditions accented by the surrounding mountains and virgin forest. In concrete terms, the wooden buildings are supported by a system of plastic floats, so that the inhabitants can endure the rainy season without fearing for their lives or livelihoods. While agriculture has long been their main source of income, the integration of Tân Hoá into tourist circuits from 2011 has enabled the population to increase their income, by offering travelers visits to the Tu Làn cave and the Lim forest, for example.

Here is the list of the 54 best villages of the year designated by the UNWTO (in alphabetical order):


  1. Al Sela, Jordan
  2. Barrancas, Chile
  3. Biei, Japan
  4. Caleta Tortel, Chile
  5. Cantavieja, Spain
  6. Chacas, Peru
  7. Chavín de Huántar, Peru
  8. Dahshour, Egypt
  9. Dhordo, India
  10. Dongbaek, Republic of Korea
  11. Douma, Lebanon
  12. Ericeira, Portugal
  13. Filandia, Colombia
  14. Hakuba, Japan
  15. Higueras, Mexico
  16. Huangling, China
  17. Jalpa de Canovas, Mexico
  18. Kandovan, Iran
  19. La Carolina, Argentina
  20. Lephis Village, Ethiopia
  21. Lerici, Italy
  22. Manteigas, Portugal
  23. Morcote, Switzerland
  24. Mosan, Republic of Korea
  25. Oku-Matsushima, Japan
  26. Omitlán de Juárez, Mexico
  27. Oñati, Spain
  28. Ordino, Andorra
  29. Oyacachi, Ecuador
  30. Paucartambo, Peru
  31. Penglipuran, Indonesia
  32. Pisco Elqui, Chile
  33. Pozuzo, Peru
  34. Saint-Ursanne, Switzerland
  35. Saty, Kazakhstan
  36. Schladming, Austria
  37. Sehwa, Republic of Korea
  38. Sentob, Uzbekistan
  39. Shirakawa, Japan
  40. Sigüenza, Spain
  41. Şirince, Turkiye
  42. Siwa, Egypt
  43. Slunj, Croatia
  44. Sortelha, Portugal
  45. St.Anton am Arlberg, Austria
  46. Tân Hoá, Viet Nam
  47. Taquile, Peru
  48. Tokaj, Hungary
  49. Văleni, Moldavia
  50. Vila da Madalena, Portugal
  51. Xiajiang, China
  52. Zapatoca, Colombia
  53. Jagana, China
  54. Zhujiawan, China

Post Your Comment
Required
Required, will not be published
All comments are moderated