Parallel Session on “Communicating Cultural Heritage to global audiences of travelers” @ ECREA Conference 2018

November 3rd, 2018 11:00 – 12:30

@ Lugano

The parallel session on communicating Cultural Heritage to global audiences of travelers was held at the at ECREA Conference 2018 in Lugano (31.10. – 03.11.2018). The 7th European Communication Conference was held in Lugano for the first time – with more than 1.400 participants.

2018 has been designated as the ‘European Year of Cultural Heritage’. All European institutions – including Switzerland, which has joined the celebration with its own logo – committed themselves to support the organization of a series of initiatives and events across Europe, with the aim of “encouraging people to discover and engage with Europe’s cultural heritage to reinforce a sense of belonging to a common European space” ( Everyone is addressed, in particular young people, since cultural heritage has a universal value: it shapes our identities and everyday lives, thus constituting the basis on which to build the future of Europe. Cultural heritage takes different shapes and forms, from tangible assets like monuments, artifacts, archeological sites, up to intangible ones like practices, oral traditions, performing arts and traditional craftsmanship. It also includes natural heritage shaped by human beings, like cultural landscapes, as well as digital resources that are both resources created in digital form and resources that have been digitalized to preserve them.
Tourism might be both an opportunity and a threat for cultural heritage destinations. On the one side, in fact, visiting and experiencing heritage allows both to discover and understand people’s diversity, as well as to appreciate and promote own heritage, this way fostering inter-cultural conversations. On the other side, instead, massive unmanaged tourism might ruin tangible heritage, commodify intangible traditions, challenge the relation between locals and their heritage.
The Year of Cultural heritage represents a valuable opportunity to reflect on how to communicate cultural heritage, so to raise people awareness on its universal value and on the necessity to preserve it and to pass it on to future generations. The contributors to this panel will discuss issues related to the following three topics: (i) the contribution of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) to support and promote cultural heritage; (ii) how to communicate it to global audiences, and in particular to emerging insource markets for tourism in Europe (e.g.: China and India), markets whose cultural backgrounds are very different; (iii) how to communicate heritage already destroyed, or at risk of being destroyed due to natural hazards or violent extremism.

More information about the ECREA conference (31.10. -03.11.2018) here.


Photo exhibition “Journeys through our fragile heritage: discover, preserve, transmit”

Mid-April – September 2018

@USI Main Campus & Parco Ciani (Lugano city center)

The photo exhibition Journeys through our fragile heritage: discover, preserve, transmit, prepared jointly by Wikimedia and UNESCO, was displayed in Lugano from mid-April to the beginning of September 2018. This exhibition showcased freely licensed Open Access digital resources that illustrate the richness and diversity of our common cultural heritage. It was organized within the framework of the #Unite4Heritage campaign and the Connected Open Heritage project. It was firstly displayed at USI – Università della Svizzera italiana main campus, moved to Parco Ciani in the Lugano city centre.

Talk “Information practices of humanitarian organizations serving the undocumented: towards a conceptualization of Digital Sanctuary practices”

May 28, 2018. Dr. Sara Vannini, Universtiy of Washington (Seattle/ USA) 

Many humanitarian organizations in the United States deal with information of undocumented individuals to help them secure the services that might otherwise be unattainable to them. ICTs can help organizations make this work more efficient. Nonetheless, they can also significantly exacerbate the risks that undocumented individuals face, exposing them to security breakages, leaks, hacks, and inadvertent disclosure, courts requests, etc.

To date, the efforts that organizations are doing to protect vulnerable individuals’ information have not been extensively studied. This presentation will introduce a preliminary study conducted on the US West Coast and aimed to understand how – in the age of big data – humanitarian organizations deal with vulnerable people’s data protection. The outcomes from interviews with staff at seven different organizations, including four advocacy groups and three organizations with ties to higher education, as well as from the organizations’ working documents analysis will be presented. Gaps between current legal standards, technology best practices, and the day-to-day functioning of these organizations will be highlighted. The necessity to support humanitarian organizations in further developing standards and training on digital privacy, as well as the need for scholars and institutions to engage with conceptualizations and practices of sanctuary in the digital world will be discussed.

Workshop “Cultural diplomacy and digital technologies”

May 25, 2018. 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_LeVineThe workshop tackled the topic of 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.

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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).