Soufli, a town in the Evros regional unit, Greece, has been selected as one of the 44 “best tourism villages” by the World Tourism Organization.

Soufli is notable for the silk industry that flourished there in the 19th century.

The Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO initiative was launched to advance the role of tourism in safeguarding rural villages, along with their landscapes, natural and cultural diversity, and their local values and activities, including local gastronomy.

The Silk Museum is housed in the Kourtidis Mansion (1883), a fine example of the region’s “manor-house” architecture. The Mansion, where there lived Dr. Konstantinos Kourtidis (1870-1944), was donated by his daughter, Maria Kourtidi-Pastra, for housing a museum dedicated to silk. The Museum comprises two buildings situated around an inner yard: the old Kourtidis mansion and the two-storey “cocoon house”.
The permanent exhibition presents all stages of pre-industrial sericulture and silk manufacture. It also tracks the history of silk over time, focusing on how the town of Soufli became a major silk-production centre from the late 19th to the mid-20th century.

A total of 44 villages from 32 countries across the five world regions were granted the recognition in 2021. All of them stand out for their natural and cultural resources as well as for their innovative and transformative actions and commitment to the development of tourism in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The villages were evaluated by an independent Advisory Board based on a set of criteria covering nine areas:

  1. Cultural and Natural Resources

  2. Promotion and Conservation of Cultural Resources

  3. Economic Sustainability

  4. Social Sustainability

  5. Environmental Sustainability

  6. Tourism Potential and Development and Value Chain Integration

  7. Governance and Prioritization of Tourism

  8. Infrastructure and Connectivity

  9. Health, Safety and Security

A total 174 villages were proposed by 75 UNWTO Member States (each Member State could present a maximum of three villages) for the 2021 pilot initiative. Among which 44 were recognized as Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO. All of the 44 chosen villages scored a total of 80 or more points or more out of a possible 100. 

Source: soufli.gr

List of Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO 2021:

  • Bekhovo, Russian Federation

  • Bkassine, Lebanon

  • Bojo, Philippineshe

  • Caspalá, Argentina

  • Castelo Rodrigo, Portugal

  • Cuetzalan del Progreso, Mexico

  • Cumeada, Portugal

  • Gruyères, Switzerland

  • Batu Puteh , Malaysia

  • Kaunertal, Austria

  • Le Morne, Mauritius

  • Lekunberri, Spain

  • Maní, Mexico

  • Misfat Al Abriyeen, Oman

  • Miyama, Japan

  • Mokra Gora, Serbia

  • Morella, Spain

  • Mustafapaşa, Turkey

  • Nglanggeran, Indonesia

  • Niseko, Japan

  • Nkotsi Village, Rwanda

  • Old Grand Port, Mauritius

  • Olergesailie, Kenya

  • Ollantaytambo, Peru

  • Pano Lefkara, Cyprus

  • Pica, Chile

  • Pochampally, India

  • Puerto Williams, Chile

  • Radovljica, Slovenia

  • Rijal Alma’a, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

  • Testo Alto, Brazil

  • Saas Fee, Switzerland

  • San Cosme y Damián, Paraguay

  • San Ginesio, Italy

  • Sidi Kaouki, Morocco

  • Solčava, Slovenia

  • Soufli, Greece

  • Taraklı, Turkey

  • The Purple Island, Republic of Korea

  • Ungok Village, Republic of Korea

  • Valposchiavo, Switzerland

  • Wonchi, Ethiopia

  • Xidi, China

  • Yucun, China