Muscat Declaration on Sustainable Tourism

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The WTO Conference on Built Environments for Sustainable Tourism (BEST) was successfully held in Muscat, Sultanate of Oman, (6-8 February 2005), upon a kind invitation of the Government of this burgeoning Sultanate that recently joined the World Tourism Organization. Distinguished speakers from all over the world, including senior government officials, tourism professionals, urban planners, architects and managers of cultural sites, presented interesting examples of re-development of ancient buildings for tourism purposes, design of new tourism facilities and other tourism projects contributing to sustainable development.


We, the participants in the international conference on Built Environments for
Sustainable Tourism (BEST), convened in the city of Muscat, from 5 to 8 February 2005, by the Government of the Sultanate of Oman, jointly with the World Tourism Organization (WTO) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recognising, acknowledging, and aware of the:

• growing economic importance of tourism, its forecast global growth,
geographical spread into newer destinations, and role in the overall
development process;
• numerous implications of tourism to societies, especially with respect to the
socio-cultural fabrics of host societies and to their built and natural
• key role local and regional authorities increasingly play in the development,
marketing and management of tourism within their areas of jurisdiction;
• importance of sensitive architectural adaptation and of respect for sense of
place for the sustainability of tourism;
• significant impact tourism can have upon the built environment, both positive
and negative
• responsibilities of both governments and the private sector have in ensuring
such impacts are positive;
• positive role that tourism can potentially play in the preservation and
conservation of natural and cultural heritage;
• principles enshrined in the WTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, especially
those in Article 3, “Tourism, a factor of sustainable development”, 4, “Tourism, a
user of the cultural heritage of mankind and a contributor to its enhancement”
and 5, “Tourism, a beneficial activity for host countries and communities”;
• ideals of sustainable development encompassing economic viability, social and
cultural advancement, and environmental protection that are applicable to all
forms of tourism

Hereby agree to call upon central and local governments, tourism authorities and the tourism private sector to:

At the strategic level:

1. Promote the use of strategic tourism planning procedures for ensuring
sustainable tourism development for the built environment;

2. Adopt policies and strategies relating to the development of tourism
infrastructure that ensure a better urban environment for both residents and

3. Implement planning processes that are transparent, equitable, and democratic.

4. Align within tourism development plans and projects the requirements of
development objectives, the needs of local communities, and respect for the

5. Ensure that the tourism built environment reflects and respects cultural

6. Promote and disseminate awareness of best practice in the sphere of the built
environment amongst policy makers, developers, employers, employees, and

7. Provide information and guidance that allows visitors and residents to interpret the distinctive built environments of individual destinations;

8. Monitor the impact of tourism on the built environment utilizing indicators by the World Tourism Organization in relation to economic, cultural, and environmental sustainability;

9. Promote and establish partnerships among tourism stakeholders, public and
private, in order to ensure an orderly and sustainable development of tourism
infrastructures that respect local cultures and economies;

On Adaptive Re-use of Heritage for Tourism Purposes

10. Ensure legislative and regulatory frameworks safeguard and enhance the
natural, cultural and built heritage through wherever appropriate encouraging
sensitive adaptation of heritage sites to reinforce destination image and
generate resources for conservation;

11. Promote constructive dialogue between respectively those authorities
responsible for heritage conservation and tourism development;

12. Build on the successful experiences available around the World to foster the
adaptive re-use of heritage buildings, monuments and ensembles for tourism
purposes in a way that protects, enhances and respects the values carried by
this heritage;

13. Ensure in doing so that sustainability of the heritage and of its new functions are properly addressed, avoiding thus the transformation of this heritage into
objects of visit with limited economic impact on its surroundings;

On Design and Construction of Modern Tourism Facilities

14. Provide appropriate incentives to ensure that the principles of sustainability are central to large scale as well as small scale tourism development;

15. Develop guidelines for the implementation of the principles of sustainability
within both large scale and small scale developments;

16. Promote the use of quality and adapted modern architecture and infrastructure in the development of tourism facilities in a way respectful of the built or natural environment reinforcing positive destination image;

17. Provide due respect to the local traditions of construction and attempt to
integrate in the process the local materials, expertise, know-how, traditional
designs and human resources at all levels.

On Eco-lodges & the Environment

18. Ensure the highest respectful integration possible of the tourism facilities in the landscape to minimize its impact, while respecting the natural and biological
components of its environment;

19. Make use of sustainable construction techniques, renewable sources of energy and local materials;

On Urban and Local Regeneration

20. Integrate the requirements and opportunities offered by the tourism sector
within a multi faceted economic development plans, ensuring thus a sustainable
development and regeneration process;

21. Create distinctive cultural icons, properly integrated in the urban or local fabric, either through imaginative re-use of historic monuments or the creation of modern facilities;

22. Involve the tourism sector in the overall regeneration of built ensembles,
including renovation of the infrastructure;

23. Devise general policies and guidelines that cover regional, urban or local
ensembles to properly integrate tourism in the life of these ensembles and to
provide specific guidelines for architectural and urban works.

Vote of Thanks

The participants, having concluded, their proceedings in the best possible conditions of efficiency and comfort and having been able to witness at first hand the Sultanate's traditional hospitality and achievements in the field of tourism, request H.E. the Minister of Tourism, Dr. Rajha Abdul Ameer Ali to convey to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said the attached message of gratitude to the Government and people of Oman.

Muscat, 8 February 2005


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