Thematic panel on “ICT for tourism at sites of religious heritage

@ENTER 2018 eTourism Conference:

Jönköping (Sweden), 24-26 January 2018

Within ENTER2018, a thematic session is organized on the topic of “ICT for tourism at sites of religious heritage”. The session follows up on two panels devoted to similar topics, organized within previous ENTER conferences. At ENTER 2015, held in Lugano (Switzerland), a thematic panel launched the discussion on the role and opportunities given by ICT to promote and develop religious and pilgrimage destinations as well as to enhance tourists’/pilgrims’ experience; it gave birth to a special issue published by the International Journal of Religious Tourism and Pilgrimage. At ENTER 2017, held in Rome (Italy), a thematic session focused on pilgrimage as a proper tourism category, aiming at investigating the role of ICTs in the modern pilgrimage experience; contributions to the session will be published in a special issue of the journal Church, Communication and Culture, to appear in late 2018.

The panel organized within ENTER 2018 will particularly focus on tourism at places that are recognized as part of the cultural heritage and have a strong connection with religion. Such places might have a long history rooted in religious traditions or they might represent modern answers to spiritual needs. Also, they might be still used for worshipping practices, hence being mainly religious tourism destinations, or they might have lost their primary worshipping function and be used for different purposes, thus attracting visitors driven by different reasons.

ICTs can provide destinations of religious heritage with a range of relevant services and experiences, from increasing access to information by interested people, to improving their experience and understanding once at the destination, from better connecting both locals and visitors to such heritage, to dis-intermediating some relationships and educating relevant stakeholders. The panel aims at presenting contributions from international scholars and practitioners, which report results of studies or discuss cases that can contribute to investigate the topic.

To take part in the session, an abstract of about 1’000 words is requested, describing the issue or the case that will be presented during the conference.

The deadline to submit proposals has been extended to December 18th, 2017. Notifications of acceptance will be sent by December 22nd.

Contributions might be considered for publication in the form of academic papers in the above mentioned special issue of Church, Communication and Culture, or in other publication outlets.

Session chairs are Silvia De Ascaniis & Lorenzo Cantoni.

To submit proposals or to request further information on the thematic session, please write to Dr. Silvia De Ascaniis, USI – Università della Svizzera italiana, Lugano (Switzerland):


Workshop “Cultural diplomacy and digital technologies”

May 25, 2016. Suzan LeVine, United States Ambassador to Switzerland, at USI to discuss about Cultural diplomacy and digital technologies: the role of social media and tourism in peace-building.

Suzi_LeVine The workshop tackled the topic of the diplomatic use of digital technologies to foster peace and mutual understanding. Guest speaker was Suzan LeVine, United States Ambassador to Switzerland, who discussed social media strategies adopted to prevent and counter violent extremism.
Prof. Lorenzo Cantoni and dr. Silvia De Ascaniis presented the campaign #faces4heritage, finalist of the 2015 global competition P2P: Challenging Extremism.

The workshop took place at USI Lugano on May 25th, in the Auditorium of the Main Building, at 14:00, and was open to the public.

The workshop announcement can be dowloaded here.

Among the numerous participants, there were also the group of students that under the supervision of UNESCO Chair and USI professor Lorenzo Cantoni, assisted by Dr. Silvia De Ascaniis, devised the campaign #faces4heritage.

visita ambasciatricevisita ambasciatrice-2899visita ambasciatrice-2903

Expert Workshop “Pilgrims in the digital age”

September 19, 2015. UNESCO Chair ran an Expert Workshop to explore the overlapping area between eLearning, eTourism and eReligion.

Tourism is one of the most intense (informal) learning experiences, when the condition of being free FROM daily duties and responsibilities allows to be free TO cultivate own interests and make new experiences. Religion, on its side, represents one the most intimate human dimensions, to cultivate which people are ready to spend great effort. What is and what could be the role of ICT in this area?

The workshop aimed at answering such challenging question, by pursuing two main goals:

  • to explore and reflect on a possible research map, by understanding what work has already been done, identifying key-themes, questions and methods, and pointing out exemplar studies and best practices;
  • to hypothesize research projects, paths and collaborations

The group of experts took two main approaches:

  1. a sociological/communication approach, to explore which strategies can be implemented to research the role of ICTs in religious tourism and pilgrimage-related experience(s)
  2. an engineering approach, to consider which ICTs tools can be designed/prototyped/tested to support and measure such experience(s)

The workshop was preceded by a round table titled “Pilgrims in the digital age”, were three scholars launched the discussion presenting related works:

  1. Heidi Campbell, director of the Network for New Media, Religion and Digital Culture Studies at the Texas A&M University (USA), focused on the types of research and methods used so far in the field of eReligion, and envisaged future research directions and methodologies
  2. Massimo Introvigne, director of the Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR), Italy – presented how new religious movements arise and grow, and the role of ICT in their diffusion
  3. Erkki Sutinen – professor at the Department of Computer Science at the University of Eastern Finland – explained how computer science might support and foster research in the area

Experts who participated to the workshop are:

  • Asta Adukaite – UNESCO Chair, Università della Svizzera italiana, Lugano, Switzerland
  • Heidi Campbell – Texas A&M University, USA
  • Lorenzo Cantoni – UNESCO Chair, Università della Svizzera italiana, Lugano, Switzerland
  • Stefania Cerutti – University of Eastern Piedmont, Italy
  • Elisa Cristina – Casa dei Padri in Armeno, Italy
  • Silvia De Ascaniis – UNESCO Chair, Università della Svizzera italiana, Lugano, Switzerland
  • Maria Garbelli – University of Bicocca, Milan, Italy
  • Giulio Lizzi – RENAULT ITALIA S.p.A., Italy
  • Rita Marchetti – University of Perugia, Italy
  • Elena Marchiori –, Università della Svizzera italiana, Lugano, Switzerland
  • Emanuele Mele – UNESCO Chair, Università della Svizzera italiana, Lugano, Switzerland
  • Elisa Piva – University of Eastern Piedmont, Italy
  • Erkki Sutinen – University of Turku, Finland

The team is now elaborating a Research Manifesto , which will be made available soon: be prepared!

Tourism Youth Conference of RETOSA

The conference of the Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa was held in Pointe aux Piments, Mauritius on April 23-24, 2015. The program on “Promoting Sustainable Tourism Development through the Involvement and Participation of the Youth” welcomed numerous discussions and presentations on opportunities for the young generations and the communities through gamification, awareness-raising activities, and sustainable tourism.

The detailed program is here.


Prof. Lorenzo Cantoni and  Asta Adukaite participated to the conference. They presented “Capacity Building Programs for the Youth in Tourism Southern Africa” and their contribution to the WHACY Game – World Heritage Awareness Campaign for Youth in Southern African Development Community (SADC).


The chair-holder of UNESCO in ICT to develop and promote sustainable tourism in World Heritage Sites also held a keynote on eLearning and eTourism.


This beautiful picture represents from left to right, Professor Cantoni, the current Junior Minister of Tourism within Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa: Zibusiso Mtunzi, the former one: Olavi Hangula and Asta Adukaite at the Youth in Tourism Conference.

Southern Africa Youth in Tourism Conference3

Students from Hindu Girls’ College in Mauritius are playing WHACY!

This lady has got one of the best scores ever on the WHACY Game. Congratulations!


From the left: Junior Deputy Minister and Junior Ministers (both current and former ones) of Tourism in SADC playing WHACY and discovering the 39 World Heritage Sites of the SADC!


Your turn to try! Play the WHACY Game!

Click here to challenge the scores!


September 3, 2015. Prof. Cantoni contributed to the 6th Meeting of the Tourism Working Group of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (COMCEC), which tackles the theme Effective Marketing Strategies: ICT-Based Solutions for the OIC Member Countries (Ankara, Turkey)Discover the program here.

June 9-12, 2015. Prof. Cantoni contributes to the 5ème colloque International de l’Association ASTRES – Association Tourisme, Recherche et Enseignement Supérieur (La Rochelle, France) with a presentation on: Information and communication technologies to listen to tourists. Practices, opportunities and challenges. Discover the program here.

May 20-22, 2015. Dr. Nadzeya Kalbaska attended eLearning Africa 2015 Conference in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) and presented the WHACY Campaign.

May 7, 2015. Workshop on Digital Technologies and Tourism for managers of Cultural Routes, Paris (France), May 7th 2015: see more info here.

April 23-24, 2015. Prof. Cantoni presents “Capacity Building Programs for the Youth in Tourism Southern Africa” for his contribution to the WHACY Game at the the Tourism Youth Conference of RETOSA in Mauritius. You can see the two-days conference’s program on “Promoting Sustainable Tourism Development through the Involvement and Participation of the Youth” here.


March 6, 2015. Prof. Cantoni presents a seminar on eTourism and Heritage at the Rede da Cátedra UNESCO – Turismo Cultural e Desenvolvimento in Coimbra, Portugal

February 3-6, 2015. ENTER2015 eTourism Conference by IFITT whose president is Prof. Cantoni is held in Lugano (Switzerland).

December 4-7, 2014. Prof. Cantoni holds a keynote presentation at the  Conference Smart Travel 2014 in Bragança and Mirandela (Portugal).

November 19-21, 2014. Prof. Cantoni gives a course on “Promotion and Localization of Websites for Sustainable Tourism” for the European Master in InterCultural Communication (EMICC) – at INALCO in Paris (France).

November 6-8,  2014. Prof. Cantoni holds a keynote presentation at the Conference Heritage, Tourism and Hospitality. A Heritage of Hospitality and Hospitality for Heritage in Istanbul (Turkey).

May 10, 2014. Presentation of the new website of Fondazione Svizzera Pro Venezia.
Associazione Svizzera Pro Venezia

December 9, 2013. Prof. Cantoni holds a keynote presentation at the 8th IPID International Annual Symposium (the International Network for Postgraduate Students in the area of ICT4D) at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. Keynote speech was dedicated on how Information and Communication Technologies can facilitate the development and promotion of sustainable tourism at the World Heritage Sites. Moreover, Prof. Cantoni introduced the upcoming “Awareness Campaign about World Heritage in Southern African Development Community (SADC)”, which launch is for April 2014. The main goal of the campaign is to raise awareness about the importance and universal value of 38 World Heritage Sites in the SADC region among the students (age 16-19) using a digital game-like tool.
The presentation can be accessed from this link.
IPID presentation by prof. Lorenzo Cantoni

November 29, 2013. Prof. Cantoni has attended UNESCO Swiss Commission General Assembly at the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), where he has presented the progress work of UNESCO Chair and especially focused on the “Awareness campaign about World Heritage in Southern African Development Community,” which is currently being designed in collaboration with the Hospitality Youth Initiative (HYI), a non-profit organization in South Africa with support of the Regional Tourism Organization of Southern Africa (RETOSA).


June 28, 2013. A press conference was held at Università della Svizzera italiana (USI), to introduce a new mobile application dedicated to the two UNESCO World Heritage Sites (WHS) in Ticino (Switzerland): the cultural site “Three Castles, Defensive Wall and Ramparts of the Market-Town of Bellinzona”, and the natural site “Monte San Giorgio”. At the event the representatives of all the partnering institutions of the app development were present: ORANGE Communications SA, Bellinzona Tourism, Mendrisiotto and  Basso Ceresio Tourism,  Ticino Tourism, Both Site managers of the respective WHS and National Swiss UNESCO Commission.


The app is available for iPhone &  iPad in Italian and German languages:
Welterbe im Tessin (Schweiz), German version
Patrimonio Mondiale Ticino (Svizzera), Italian version

As well as for Android phones:
Welterbe im Tessin (Schweiz), German version
Patrimonio Mondiale Ticino (Svizzera), Italian version
The collection af the media articles covering this event can be accessed here (Italian  language).

May 2, 2013. UNESCO Swiss Commission every two years organizes an event called Lugano meeting to provide an informal forum forNational Commissions to review their cooperation and to discuss the common challenges they face in their work with and for UNESCO. The Lugano meeting (Lugano VI) this year was held on 2- 4 May 2013 and dealt with the cooperation between National Commissions and their existing networks, in particular the UNESCO Chairs. Prof. L. Cantoni has presented the main goals and objectives of the project underlying the new UNESCO Chair to various representatives of UNESCO National Commissions and to other Chair holders from Switzerland, Finland, Germany, the UK, the Netherlands and Hungary.
UNESCO Chair presentation at USI

The collection af the media articles covering this event can be accessed here (Italian and French languages).


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