The World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) recently announced its second list of the world's "best villages." The UN agency, which looks after responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism, shared a list of 32 destinations from all around the world named the "Best Tourism Villages 2022."
The campaign, known as "Best Tourism Villages," aims to counteract rural depopulation, improve gender equality, innovation, infrastructure, and investment, and lessen regional income and development disparities—all while implementing sustainable tourism and cutting emissions and waste.
"Rural destinations that are embracing tourism as a driver of development and new opportunities for jobs and income, while preserving and promoting community-based values and products," UNWTO stated on its website.
"The initiative recognises villages for their commitment to innovation and sustainability in all its aspects—economic, social and environmental—and a focus on developing tourism in line with the sustainable development goals (SDGs)," it added.
Only Spain could qualify all three villages out of the maximum of three that any nation could submit for consideration. The list included Rupit, Alquézar, and Guadalupe. The recognition was given to 32 communities from 18 nations in the five geographical regions.
Here's a look at the four villages from Asia that were featured in the list.
The northern Chinese province of Shanxi is where the village of Dazhai is situated. Dazhai was once an impoverished village with poor, eroding soil and frequent droughts. Still, by the middle of the 20th century, it had become a prosperous agricultural commune with irrigated, terraced fields.
The community of Jingzhu has combined tourism and agriculture. Along with its picturesque surroundings, the town has developed Guiyuan Tourist Hamlet as an artistic, pastoral complex based on agriculture with various ethnic elements under the theme of "Garden Manor Paradise."
Pyeongsa-ri, Republic of Korea
The U-shaped Jirisan Mountain and the lovely Seomjingang River surround Pyeongsa-ri, a village emphasising literature and the environment. The settlement was modelled around the locale from Park Kyong-Korean ni's novel "Toji."
Thái Hái, Vietnam
With more than 30 stilted traditional homes, this town spans 20 hectares of lush forest. The village encourages the capacity of local culture to produce distinctive and genuine tourism goods. Traditional spiritual festivals are held there, and the ethnic residents of the village serve as tour guides.
Other places mentioned on the list include Trevelin in Argentina; Krupa na Vrbasu in Bosnia-Herzegovina; Fontainhas in Cabo Verde; Ninhue in Chile; San Vicente de Chucuri and Barichara in Colombia; Kalopanagiotis and Pissouri in Cyprus; Adaba in Ethiopia; Neot Semadar in Israel; Otricoli in Italy; Il Ngwesi in Kenya; Grand Baie in Mauritius; Bella Vista in Paraguay; Istebna in Poland; Ferraria de São João in Portugal, Castara in Trinidad and Tobago; Birgi in Türkiye, among others.
Villages who didn't achieve all of the requirements will be assisted by a concurrent "Upgrade Program" to increase their chances of passing in upcoming years. These villages will receive sponsorship from UNWTO and its associates in "improving elements of the areas identified as gaps in the evaluation process," as per the UNWTO's statement. The village of Khonoma in Nagaland (also credited with being Asia's first "green village"), 20 kilometres from the state's capital Kohima, is a fascinating addition to this list.