The UIA (International Union of Architects) held an international forum on mass tourism in historical cities in Baku, Azerbaijan, 7-9 June 2019. The event, hosted by the Union of Architects of Azerbaijan (UAA), was followed by a UIA Council Meeting (10 June) and an Extraordinary General Assembly (11 June).
With the advent of low-cost travel, the tourism industry is experiencing an unprecedented boom. As a result, mass tourism is increasingly characterized as invasive, even destructive, often resulting in demographic shifts, local malcontent, rising prices, the dissipation of small businesses, damage to heritage, and loss of cultural identity. This forum addressed these problems and discussed ways in which architects and other actors can help develop a greater harmony between historic towns and tourists.
Over the course of five panels, experts discussed the challenges and benefits of tourism, and the role that architects and heritage conservationists have to play in rehabilitating, reconfiguring and protecting historic sites and cities, in order to optimize the relations between residents, tourists, and the place itself.
The 2021 UIA International Forum will be held in Madrid, and the topic will be affordable housing. I’ll provide more information as it becomes available. Meanwhile, planning is intensifying for the next UIA World Congress, to be held in Rio de Janeiro 18-26 July 2020.
The Extraordinary General Assembly in Baku was attended by delegates from most of the UIA Member Section countries. The AIA delegation was led by AIA First Vice President Jane Frederick, FAIA; the other AIA delegates were Marilys Nepomechie, FAIA; Betsy del Monte, FAIA; and myself, along with Derek Washam, AIA Sr. Manager, International Relations.