As a niche market, the Silk Road offers good business prospects for tour operators and travel agencies. Central Asia in particular, the heart of the Silk Road where hardly any tourists used to be seen, will continue to benefit from demand. Those were the findings of the Silk Road Tour Operator's Forum at ITB Berlin. “The Silk Road has now become a huge brand, and that is something that should be exploited", said Nikolaos Gkolfinopoulos, a project expert at the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). Popular destinations include Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan, together with the legendary cities of Bukhara, Samarkand, Bishkek, Dushanbe and Almaty, for instance.
Most of the tourists are well-educated, experienced travellers with sufficient money. Many of them travel in small groups and are “mobile”. That means they use their smartphones for local information rather than a laptop or notebook. That is why Gkolfinopoulos advises tour operators and travel agencies to “take the mobiles of potential customers into account when advertising this market.“ Mongolia is also profiting from the recent popularity of the Silk Road, says Ati Tosun, co-founder of Indy Guide. Tosun has undertaken pioneering work with his Insight Tourism Report 2019 - Central Asia & Mongolia (https://indy-guide.com). It talks about the motivations of travellers, their expectations and preferences, and lists the leading source markets for tourists who visit Central Asia and Mongolia.
The Silk Road is an extensive network of historical trading routes, the main one connecting the Mediterranean countries with Eastern Asia. Today, over 30 countries are collaborating on the Silk Road project. Among the new research projects is the West’s European section of the Silk Road, where new tourism programmes and travel services are also emerging. At the forum Antonio Barone, director of La Rotta dei Fenici (the Phoenicians’ Route), promoted a tour of eleven countries across the Mediterranean from the Lebanon to Portugal.
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