On October 31, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated San Antonio as a Creative City of Gastronomy. San Antonio, along with seven other cities across the globe, received this specific designation, and 64 cities from 44 countries received a designation under one of the seven creative fields, which include Crafts & Folk Art, Design, Film, Gastronomy, Literature, Music, and Media Arts. In total, 180 cities in 72 countries are in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.
The UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) was created in 2004 to foster international cooperation with and between cities that have recognized culture and creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable urban development.
All members within the Network work together toward a common mission: placing creativity and cultural industries at the core of their urban development plans to make their cities safe, resilient, inclusive and sustainable, and they actively cooperate at the international level through intercity partnerships.
The benefits are far reaching, providing San Antonio with expanded opportunities to attract tourists by displaying our cultural assets and attractions on a global platform, creating a broad economic impact on our community. Having received two UNESCO designations, the Missions as World Heritage site and now the City as a Creative City of Gastronomy, San Antonio is building a competitive advantage and improving our positioning as an international hub for business and quality of life.
Last year, Chamber Chairman Renée Flores created the Good to Great to Global (G3) task force to develop and provide specific recommendations on community initiatives, investments, and alliances that establish San Antonio as a globally competitive city. Cultural Preservation and Celebration, which had a particular emphasis on food, arts and celebration, was one of the three focus areas and led to the Chamber’s involvement and support of the city’s application.
The application process began in spring of 2017 with the creative muscle of Chef Johnny Hernandez at the center of a working group consisting of various departments within the City of San Antonio, Chef Elizabeth Johnson, Angela and Freddie Covo of Edible San Antonio, food writer Wendy Atwell, and the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce.
In 2015, San Antonio’s Spanish Colonial Missions were added named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, standing proudly with other designated sites in the U.S. such as the Statue of Liberty, Yellowstone and Grand Canyon national parks, and Philadelphia’s Independence Hall.
San Antonio is the second city in the country to be recognized as a Creative City of Gastronomy, joining Tucson, Arizona, which received the recognition in 2015.