Thematic Cities Cluster

Sustainable Tourism, Heritage Protection & Creative Economy

The Cities Cluster on Sustainable Tourism, Heritage Protection and Creative Economy offers a space for knowledge sharing and collaboration between cities partners of the global South on how to reactivate the tourism sector through technological innovations, sustainable tourism, heritage protection, tourism e-commerce, creative economy. 

Tourism has the potential to advance all SDGs through the optimization of the utilization of environmental resources, providing long-term social and economic support to host communities. But tourism has also been one the most hard-hit sectors during the COVID-19 crisis. At the height of the pandemic, 89 per cent of the countries partially or fully closed their World Heritage sites to visitors (UNESCO, 2020).

2021 expects to witness continued impact by COVID-19 on global tourism, including a decrease of 87% in international tourist arrivals that have occurred in January 2021 compared to January 2020 (UNWTO, 2021). Countries dependent on tourism industries will continue t0 suffer losses of revenue due to the lack of sufficient alternative livelihood opportunities.

Creative economy is a concept that revolves around human creativity and ideas, intellectual property, knowledge and technology. Although creative economy export trade grew annually at an average rate of 7 per cent  between 2002 and 2015 (UNCTAD, 2021), concerns exist over the unequal distribution of benefits brought by creative industries among all people. For instance, developing countries face many challenges exporting their creative economy outputs (UNCTAD, 2021). During the COVID-19 pandemic, many creative industries such as venue-based sectors like museums, galleries, and theatres were downsized because of lockdown measures, harming cities and regions in terms of jobs and revenue, levels of innovation, citizen well-being, and the vibrancy and diversity of communities. In November 2020, the UN rectified a landmark resolution, making 2021 the “International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development” and offering opportunities to reimagine creative economy within the targets of the SGDs. 

In 2020, the Cities Project organized the ‘Travel South over the Cloud’ series with four webinars focusing on knowledge sharing, exchanges, and learnings on the role of digitalization in facilitating the growth and recovery of the tourism sector, with particular attention to the following aspects: technological innovations, tourism e-commerce, creative economy, and Word Heritage Cities. In 2021 the Cities Project is continuing to build on the results achieved in 2020, working in partnership with specialized agencies to facilitate and deepen collaborations among cities and institutions under this thematic area,  

The Cities Project welcomes city partners interested in participating in the Cities Cluster on Sustainable Tourism, Heritage Protection and Creative Economy, and hopes the knowledge exchanged here leads to more South-South cooperation and a swift post-pandemic social and economic recovery. 

Members of this Cluster



Anyang, a prefecture-level city in Henan Province, was called Xiang, Yin, Ye, Yecheng, Yedu, Yejun, Xiangzhou, Zhangde in ancient times, etc., Yin or Ye for short. It is located in north-central China and the northernmost part of Henan Province. At the junction of the three provinces of Hebei, Henan and Shanxi, it is bordered by Puyang in the east, Changzhi in the west, Hebi and Xinxiang in the south, and Handan in the north. As of 2019, Anyang City has a total area of 7,413 square kilometers, with 4 districts, 1 county-level city, 4 counties, and a permanent population of 5,192,200. Anyang is one of the eight ancient capitals of China. It is the hometown of oracle-bone inscriptions, the birthplace of Zhouyi, the birthplace of the Red Flag Canal spirit, and a national historical and cultural city. In history, the Shang Dynasty, Cao Wei, Hou Zhao, Ran Wei, Qianyan, Eastern Wei and Northern Qi successively established their capitals in Anyang. There are 91 sites for the protection of cultural relics at or above the provincial level, of which 23 are national cultural relics protection units and 68 are provincial cultural relics protection sites.

Anyang is famous for agriculture, ferrous metal smelting and rolling processing industry, the automobile manufacturing industry, the coking industry, the coal mining and washing industry. In 2020, Anyang City completed a GDP of 230.05 billion yuan, an increase of 3.3% over the previous year.

Anyang, China



During the seventeenth century, around the port city of Campeche, powerful fortress and a long wall were built to repel the constant English, French, and Dutch Pirate attacks. Nowadays, this city is an outstanding example of military architecture from the Spanish Colonial era, and Campeche’s Old Quarter is one of the most harmonious and well-preserved Baroque Architectural complexes in Mexico. It is also considered one of the most beautiful and pleasant places in the country.

Campeche, Mexico



With more than 450 years of history, the city of Durango offers an endless number of experiences full of culture and traditions, excellent gastronomy and incredible places that will invite visitors to come back.
Durango’s Historic Center contains the greatest architectural richness in northern Mexico. The city of Durango offers visitors a very diverse set of excellent museums, a western style theme park, and also incredible natural landscapes and historic sites that are part of the route of the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro.

Durango, Mexico



250 years ago, Guanajuato was the main production center of silver in the World, making it a key piece in the industrial and economic history of Mexico and the World. The great economic development achieved by this city today is visible in its wonderful buildings, its intricate streets, alleys, and squares. Guanajuato is one of the most beautiful mining cities in the world and the host of “El Cervantino” Festival, the most important international festival of arts and culture in Mexico.

Guanajuato, Mexico



Lishui was established as early as 1400 years ago. It has a total area of 17,300 km2, which occupies 1/6 of Zhejiang’s land area. It presently exercises jurisdiction over 9 counties (city & district) with a total population of 2.70 million.

Lishui is an important ecological shelter zone in Zhejiang and even in East China. It is known as the “No.1 ecological city in China”. we have the largest mountain area in both Jiangsu and Zhejiang. It is the source of six rivers. The forest coverage rate is 81.7%. The air quality ranks in the top ten in the country. The Ecological Environment Status Index has ranked first in the province for 15 consecutive years. It has become the first batch of national ecological civilization demonstration zones, the first batch of national ecological protection and construction demonstration zones, and the national water ecological civilization cities, and was selected as the first batch of national climate-adaptive cities.

Lishui is the hometown of Chinese folk art. It has 3 UN intangible cultural heritages and 18 national intangible cultural heritages. The three treasures of Lishui, Longquan Celadon, Longquan Sword, and Qingtian Stone Carving are famous in China and abroad. There are 257 national-level traditional villages in the city. It is the area with the largest number of ancient villages and the most complete style in East China. It is known as the “last secret place in the south of yangzi river”. In addition, the overseas Chinese culture, She minority culture and photography culture of Lishui are unique local cultural brands.

Lishui is also a famous hometown for overseas Chinese. The population of Lishui is less than one twentieth of the whole province, but the proportion of overseas Chinese in Lishui exceeds one fifth of the whole province. Currently, there are 415,000 overseas Chinese, covering more than 130 countries and regions in five continents. They are an important bridge to build up friendship between Lishui and foreign countries.

Lishui, China



Located in the West of Henan Province, Luoyang got its name due to its location in the adret of the ancient Luoshui River. It is a historic city with more than three thousand years of history. It was the capital city for nine dynasties, including the East Zhou, East Han, Caowei, West Jin, North Wei, Sui, Wuzhou, Late Liang, Late Tang, so it is named as the ``Ancient Capital of the Nine Dynasties``, ranking top one among the seven ancient capitals in China. The Heluo area with Luoyang as the center is the important origin of the Huaxia Civilization.

The most prosperous period of Luoyang was in the Sui and Tang dynasties with a population of more than one million. Known as the oriental start of the ``silk road``, it had wide political, economic, cultural exchanges with countries of Europe, North Africa and Asia.

The ancient capital Luoyang also boasts rich humanistic cultures. The fables about Fuxi, Nuwa, Yellow Emperor, Tangyao, Yushun, Xiayu in ancient China were mostly originated from here; the generation and development of traditional Chinese cultures: Confucianism, Buddhism, Daoism, are closely related with Luoyang; the Book of Changes and The Eight Diagrams were generated here; Laotze wrote the Daoism here; Confucius once asked the ceremony here; The Historical Book of Han Dynasty and Comprehensive Mirror for Aid in Government were complied here; Zhang Heng invented Armillary Sphere and Seismograph here; and the great poets Du Fu and Li Bai left their ever-lasting poems here.

The rich and abundant historic culture of Luoyang has done its contribution to the Chinese nation and also leaves endless wealth and relic sites for the following generations to visit and ponder on the past. Luoyang Longmen Grottoes is one of the three art treasures of the Chinese stone inscription; the first temple Baima Temple was the first temple built after the introduction of Buddhism into China and reputed as ``Shiyuan`` and ``Zuting`` of China's Buddhism; the Mangshan in the north has the largest ancient tomb cluster in China shaped since East Zhou Dynasty and more than 400 thousand precious cultural relics have been excavated here and the first ancient tomb museum in the world has been built here. In addition, Luoyang is also famous for its three colored glazed pottery of the Tang Dynasty, Luoyang peony, Heluo Peculiar Stone (Yellow River Peculiar Stone), Luo embroidery and the Guanlin, one of the three famous Guandi Temples in China.

The ancient capital Luoyang is among the first batch of China's historic cities declared by the Chinese government.

Luoyang, China

Mexico City


Mexico City has double ancestry: Aztec (1325) and Spanish (1521). Its cathedral, churches, public squares, and palaces, stand out as a prominent example of the Spanish settlements in the American continent. The Main Temple (Templo Mayor) and the archeological pieces discovered underneath the city, offer an exceptional testimony of the Mexica (Aztec) cultural tradition. Mexico City also has magnificent buildings of the 19th and 20th century, such as the Palace of Fine Arts. Nowadays, it is the most important cultural center in the country, and it is one of the most fascinating cities in Latin America and the world.

Mexico City, Mexico



In the founding of Morelia in 1541, there were combined influences of Spanish Renaissance with the experience of the native-Americans. Morelia’s checkered urban trace and the unity of the various architectural styles developed between the 16th to 19th centuries have survived until today. In this own way, Morelia illustrates the achievements of several architectural styles: renaissance, baroque, and neoclassical. The vitality of Morelia’s handicrafts and gastronomy are reflection of its cultural wealth and some of the virtues of this beautiful city of pink stone.

Morelia, Mexico

National Association of World Heritage Cities (ANCMPM A.C.)


The National Association of World Heritage Cities (ANCMPM A.C.) supports Mexican municipal presidencies to create synergy, through a network structure to manage resources, generate alliances and to guarantee continuity in the application of public policies for the safeguard and maintenance of historic centers. The ANCMPM A.C. seeks to be an innovative organization that, through its capacity for dialogue with federal and local agencies, can feed into transversal policies that improve the state of conservation of the world heritage in Mexico and generate better economic development in cities.

National Association of World Heritage Cities (ANCMPM A.C.), Mexico



Oaxaca, founded in 1529, is an excellent example of a Spanish viceregal village. It showcases a valuable set of solid houses, palaces, squares, temples and convents that mix European and American traditions and create true architectural and artistic jewels. Today, Oaxaca has a strong presence of indigenous cultures, which influenced its wonderful handcraft, art, delicious cuisine, and colorful celebrations. Oaxaca is undoubtfully one of the most creative cities in Mexico.

Oaxaca, Mexico



Puebla was founded in 1531 as a city of Spanish colonists surrounded by Indigenous neighborhoods. Thanks to the agricultural industry, it became one of the biggest and most prosperous cities of the New Spain. A good part of this greatness survives until today in its historical center, example of the Spanish urbanistic in America (16th - 19th century) which aimed to create “the ideal city”. Today, Puebla showcases a vast richness in plastic arts, present in churches and museums, in the Talavera Poblana (a kind of majolica ceramics mixing Chinese, Italian, Spanish and Indigenous techniques) and its unique gastronomy.

Puebla, Mexico



Quanzhou, located in the southeast of Fujian province, is one of the three major central cities of Fujian. It has jurisdiction over four districts (Licheng, Fengze, Luojiang and Quangang), three county-level cities (Jinjiang, Shishi and Nan'an), five counties (Hui’an, Anxi, Yongchun, Dehua and Jinmen which is to be reunited) and two national level development zones (Quanzhou Economic and Technological Development Zone and Quanzhou Taiwanese Investment Zone). The city covers an area of 11,015 square kilometers and has a sea area of 11,360 square kilometers, a 541-km-long coastline, 14 large and small ports and 207 islands. It features a subtropical oceanic monsoon climate, with warm and humid weather throughout the year. By the end of 2020, Quanzhou had a permanent population of 8.78 million.

Quanzhou is one of the famous historical and cultural cities approved by the State Council of China and a Culture City of East Asia. It is recognized as one of the starting points of the ancient Maritime Silk Road. In the Tang dynasty (618-907), it was one of the four major foreign trade ports in southern China. During the Song (960-1279) and Yuan (1271-1368) dynasties, Quanzhou Harbor, known as “Zayton” worldwide, was crowned the ``largest harbor in the East`` comparable to Alexandria in Egypt. With rich and diverse cultures, Quanzhou is hailed as the “Museum of World Religions”. The city has 945 cultural heritage sites of all levels, 44 at the national level. Quanzhou is also the cradle of Minnan (southern Fujian) culture and boasts 5 world intangible cultural heritage items and 34 national ICH items. Among them, Nanyin, which literally means music in the south, is known as the ``living fossil`` of ancient Chinese music. It is the only city in China with elements inscribed on both the Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage and the Register of Good Safeguarding Practices by UNESCO.

Quanzhou is a major ancestral home of overseas Chinese and Taiwan Han population. Over 9.5 million overseas Chinese of Quanzhou origin resided in more than 170 countries and regions. Many of these people invest in enterprises, schools and social projects in Quanzhou. They have made remarkable contributions to the economic and social development of the city, bridging Quanzhou and the world.

Quanzhou enjoys a dynamic economy featuring prosperous private businesses and manufacturing industry. In 2020, its GDP amounted to 1015.87 billion Yuan, ranking first in Fujian Province for 22 consecutive years and 18th place amongst all cities (Beijing, Shanghai included) in China. Dubbed the “Special Zone for Private Economy”, Quanzhou now has nine industrial clusters, namely textile and clothing, footwear, petrochemicals, machinery and equipment, building materials, food and beverage, crafts, paper and printing, and electronic information, each with an output value of over 100 billion Yuan.

Quanzhou, China



Due to its double origin, first Indigenous and then Spanish, Querétaro has a particular urban outline. On one side, the Indigenous part with sinuous and narrow streets, on the other side, the Spanish influence of a grid trace. Today, Queretero’s historical center still holds its original outline and a great number of monuments. On the outside and inside of Queretaro’s temples, convents and palaces are magnificent treasures of baroque architecture and art.

Querétaro, Mexico

Rio de Janeiro


The city of Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil, constituted by landscapes of exceptional scenic beauty, is the second-most populous city and economy in Brazil - with an estimated population of 6.718.903 (2019) and a gross domestic product of R$337,6 billion (2017). Contemplated by a large number of universities and institutes, it is also the second-largest research and development center in Brazil, responsible for 19% of the national scientific production, according to 2005 data. The Rio de Janeiro way of being and living is a hallmark of the city and is admired by people from all over the world. Founded in 1565, Rio de Janeiro was also the capital of Brazil from 1763 to 1960.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

San Luís Potosí


San Luís Potosí was founded in 1592, after Captain Caldera y Juna de Oñate and Viceroy Luis de Velasco y Castilla discovered gold and silver in Cerro de San Pedro. The title of city was granted in 1656 by Viceroy Francisco Fernandez de la Cueva y Enriquez de Cabrera and was confirmed by King Philip IV two years later. Built on prairie, the architecture of San Luis Potosi has a record of monuments, an important monumental wealth, both in religious and civil buildings. The historical and artistic heritage of the city can be seen through several styles such as baroque novohispano, neoclassicism, among others.

San Luís Potosí, Mexico

San Miguel de Allende


San Miguel de Allende was founded in 1542 as a catholic mission to evangelize Indigenous towns. However, with the emergence of the mining cities of Zacatecas and Guanajuato, the city was placed on the crossroad of Camino Real, the crossing route of the New Spain and by which the silver was moved. Since then, San Miguel de Allende became a center of cultural exchange between Spanish, indigenous and creoles communities. Today the city maintains numerous religious and civil buildings of Mexican baroque style, as well as masterpieces of the periods between the baroque and the neoclassic periods.

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico



Xochimilco is a borough 21 kms away from Mexico City’s Historic Center. The borough is centered on the formerly independent city of Xochimilco, which was established on what was the southern shore of Lake Xochimilco in the precolonial period. Today, the borough consists of eighteen “barrios”, or neighborhoods, along with fourteen “pueblos”, or villages, covering an area of 125 km2 (48 sq mi). Xochimilco is best known for its canals and “chinampas”, which are the remains of an extensive lake and canal system that connected most of the settlements of the Valley of Mexico. The “chinampas” are a Mesoamerican cultivation technique that consists of floating orchards over the surface of shallow lakes, among which network of waterways are created. Xochimilco is a splendid combination of natural and cultural heritage which has already seven centuries of working life.

Xochimilco, Mexico



Zacatecas was founded in the middle of the 16th century, near important mexican silver deposits. The richness of the city was reflected in elegant manors, hospitals, schools and temples decorated with quarry filigree by anonymous indigenous craftsmen. Due to the city’s strategic position, Zacatecas turned into one of the main and most influential cities in the New Spain. Today the city maintains its original beauty and urban harmony through buildings, narrow streets, little squares and great art collections in museums

Zacatecas, Mexico

Latest News and Updates

Cities Clusters - TourismCities ProjectEventsWebinars
January 13, 2021

Webinar: Travel South over Cloud – China-Mexico South-South Experience Exchange, 15 January 2021

Travel South over Cloud China-Mexico South-South Experience Exchange: Promoting Inclusive and Sustainable Tourism Development in Cities When: Pre-recorded event. Available on Friday, 15 January 2021, 7:00am (New York Time) How…
Cities Clusters - TourismCities ProjectEventsWebinars
December 18, 2020

Webinar: Travel South Over Cloud – Showcasing Good Practices in Promoting Creative Economy & E-commerce for Tourism Recovery from COVID-19

When: Pre-recorded event. Available on Sunday, 20 December 2020, 7:00am (New York Time) How to access: Recording will be available in English through UNOSSC YouTube and BibiBili channels. Recordings in…
Cities Clusters - TourismCities ProjectEventsWebinars
November 19, 2020

Webinar: Leveraging Digital Innovation in Promoting Tourism Development in World Heritage Cities, 22 November 2020

When: Pre-recorded event. Available 22 November 2020, 7:00AM New York time Where: Full recording in Chinese available on Fengzhibo and Fengshow. Full recording in English available on YouTube and BiliBili.…
Cities Clusters - DRRCities Clusters - E-commerceCities Clusters - TourismCities Clusters - TransportCities Clusters - WasteCities ProjectNews
November 11, 2020

35 Cities in Uzbekistan benefit from UNOSSC Cities Project Urban Development Workshop

On 6 November 2020, mayors and deputy mayors of 35 mid-sized cities in Uzbekistan completed an online training on transforming cities by developing business and enhancing the service sector, supported…

Knowledge Products

Cities Clusters - Tourism Knowledge ProductsCities Project Knowledge Products
April 21, 2021

Training Report: Travel South over Cloud

Training Report: Travel South over Cloud South-South Cooperation in Promoting Tourism for Sustainable Development Against the Backdrop of COVID-19 Recovery The COVID-19 crisis is a major shock for the most…
Cities Clusters - COVID-19 Knowledge ProductsCities Clusters - Tourism Knowledge ProductsDRR Knowledge ProductsPublications
September 25, 2020

UNCTAD: COVID-19 and Tourism Assessing the Economic Consequences

By June 2020, COVID-19 infected over 10 million people and caused the deaths of over 500,000 worldwide (WHO1 ). Globally, the spread shows no sign of abating. Although daily cases in…
Cities Clusters - COVID-19 Knowledge ProductsCities Clusters - Tourism Knowledge ProductsDRR Knowledge ProductsPublications
August 10, 2020

Global Tourism Sector should Continue Fight Against Plastic Pollution during and after COVID-19 – New UN recommendations:

Restarting tourism responsibly requires that future operations be guided by a science-based approach in order to support governments, business, and local communities to understand the trade-offs of decision-making processes that…
Cities Clusters - COVID-19 Knowledge ProductsCities Clusters - Tourism Knowledge ProductsDRR Knowledge ProductsPublications
June 3, 2020

Policy Responses to COVID-19: Addressing the Impact of the Pandemic on Tourism

The collapse of tourism resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic will have a profound impact on the Asia-Pacific small island developing States because of their high reliance on tourism rents. The…

Media Center

Also available on BiliBili

Also available on BiliBili

Also available on BiliBili

Also available on BiliBili