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February 6, 2009

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE LIFE BEYOND TOURISM® ASSOCIATION

FOUNDING PRINCIPLES OF THE ASSOCIATION

“Life Beyond Tourism for Intercultural Dialogue” is an association that proposes to disseminate, both in Italy and abroad, the founding principles of an initiative known as Life Beyond Tourism® originally formulated by Paolo Del Bianco, the promoter and chairman of the Romualdo Del Bianco Foundation in Florence, and designed to promote a form of tourism based on values rather than on the mere offer of services to the traveler.

To date, Life Beyond Tourism® has attracted the patronage of ICCROM, of the Tuscan Regional Authority, of the Florence Provincial Authority and of the Florence Municipal Authority.

Transcending consumer tourism, the cultural initiative known as Life Beyond Tourism® aims to help foster and disseminate such universal values as respect and harmony among peoples through intercultural dialogue and an awareness of, and familiarity with, cultural diversity and traditional knowledge.

Life Beyond Tourism® was officially launched in the Salone dei Duecento, in Florence’s city hall, Palazzo Vecchio, on 15 March 2008 (a practical experiment began on that date at the Vivahotel Pitti Palace al Ponte Vecchio and is still under way) with the participation of

– Deputy Mayor Eugenio Giani

– Antonio Natali, director of the Uffizi Gallery

– Maurizio Bossi, director of the G.P. Vieusseux Literary and Scientific Cabinet’s Center for Romantic Studies

– ICCROM Director General Mounir Bouchenaki, represented for the occasion by Andrzej Tomaszewski, chairman of the ICOMOS International Committee for the Theory and Philosophy of Conservation and Restoration, and by Limburg Cultural Heritage Center Director Marc Laenen, both of whom are Emeritus Director Generals of ICCROM (International Center for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property)

– and in the presence of Maurizio di Stefano, chairman of the Italian National ICOMOS Committee

– along with over 90 experts from 23 countries on three continents, and of an authoritative audience of Florentine citizens.

The launch of the “Life Beyond Tourism for Intercultural Dialogue” Association was designed to provide a framework for the implementation and practical application of a “Declaration of Intent” signed on 16 March 2008 by those who attended the project’s presentation the day before. This declaration acknowledges the importance both of the “Life Beyond Tourism” project per se and of getting it started; it voices the hope that the project’s promotion, development and immediate practical application may take off also at the international level, in harmony with such international and intergovernmental institutions as UNESCO, ICCROM, UNWTO, the Council of Europe, and with such International NGO’s as ICOMOS, IUCN and ICOM. It also aims to promote the development of training curricula in cooperation with UNESCO, ICCROM, UNWTO and the tourist industry in order to further intercultural dialogue.

Life Beyond Tourism® is designed to help as vast a number of tourists as possible impart a quantum leap to the quality of their demand — a demand aimed not only, or not so much, at standard tourist industry services, and more at the world of values which can provide the real motivation behind those services, thus making tourists’ own investment in time and money more fruitful. In keeping with this aim, the Association aims to help to make cultural heritage easier to interpret and more easily comprehensible, as a crucial tool for fostering intercultural dialogue and an awareness of, and familiarity with, cultural diversity and traditional knowledge.

At the same time, “Life Beyond Tourism” hopes to be able to help boost an awareness in the tourist industry itself of the importance not so much of increasing the amount of services offered, as of fostering intercultural dialogue, and of using healthy competition in that field as a yardstick of success. In conclusion, Life Beyond Tourism is designed to change the current cliché “Been there, done that… “ into “I have familiarized with … “, “I have realized …. “, “I have understood that there is a whole world of values out there for me to delve into and embrace”; also, it aims to help boost people’s awareness, limiting or restricting the number of their potential yet inappropriate “certainties”. Thanks to the reversal of perspective proposed by “Life Beyond Tourism”, that very tourism which is helping today to ‘standardize’ the world and to threaten both our tangible and our intangible universal heritage, can help to safeguard and to enhance the diversity of expression that is the very lifeblood of that heritage.

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