People interested in Central Asia, or generically in Asia, are aware the expression Silk Road is increasingly widespread for some time. This commercial route is mentioned in various fields, from tourism to economic development, from arts to geopolitcs. We are faced with a real brand, linking far and different countries from China to Turkey, from Japan to Iran, all mainly drove by commercial interests. Very interesting the fact precisely these commercial interests could lead to a cultural and tourist rediscovery of the Silk Road.
Behind this renaissance there is the Chinese plan One Belt One Road, a network of commercial land and maritime routes aiming at connecting China to the wider world. This network arises in Xian – starting point of the ancient Silk Road as well – and Kunming, from where begins the route to Southeast Asia and India. Even sixty-five countries agreed to collaborate, indicating clearly the importance of the project. To realize it, financial bodies as the Silk Road Fund or the Asiatic Bang of Infrastructure Development are been specifically created.
The Silk Road is immensely mentioned speaking about economical partnership involving Asia; to her has been entitled a recent forum held in Duisburg concerning the cooperation between Europe and China; of her have discussed the authorities opening the commercial railway running from Xian to Kouvola, in Finland; again her has been the protagonist on occasion of the inauguration of another railway, the Mortara – Chengdu (in the Chinese province of Sichuan) that will carry the Italian products to China in eighteen days.
The Silk Road is present it the biggest financial institutions like UNESCO through the Silk Road Online Platform, where can be found several informations about related topics (festivals, museums or particularly interesting cities, and other). UNESCO has also sponsored a series of meetings aiming to harmonise names of places and monuments along the Silk Road. The last of these meeting has been hold in Xian, the beating heart of the famous caravan route, with the participation of around sixty delegated from different countries.
Speaking about tourism, we can find the Silk Road Programme of UNWTO (an United Nations agency). This programme has been created in 1993 and joins twenty-five countries whit the purpose of promoting the touristic activity of the members, in accordance with the Samarkand Declaration of 1994 concerning the tourism along the Silk Road. The fields it works in are a lot, from marketing to cultural promotion till the capacity to develop an accommodation network facilitating the tourists’ journey. In this direction also the proposal to issue a single visa permitting the access to all the member countries.
In Central Asia particularly active in tourism is Uzbekistan: Samarkand has staged in November 2017 an international conference about security and ecologically compatible tourism in the region. The UNWTO has published a really interesting and complete report – 2014 data – analysing the tourism panorama precisely in Uzbekistan. The renaissance of the Silk Road therefore seems having all the credentials for a renaissance of the Central Asia as well.
But, looking better the numbers do not add up, the list of festivals on the UNESCO website is almost empty and a project for mapping the caravanserais never got beyond the declaration of intent, welcoming us with an 404 error on the description page. The UNWTO, instead, point to a website, theoritically concerning the cities along the Silk Road, blank and for sale. A Silk Road promotion showing some loopholes, as the Chine plan above mentioned.
In the end, the renaissance of the Silk Road certainly has positive aspects, although is clearly interwined with economic interest. In any case this part of world has a unique charm, also for who is just a traveller and not a businessman.