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Home arrowNews arrowAugust 17, 2012

World Heritage Sites Report Released

In June 2012, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), the National Park Service (NPS), and the U.S. National Commission on UNESCO convened a symposium on U.S. World Heritage Sites at the University of Virginia, itself a World Heritage Site. The symposium was supported by the ACHP Alumni Foundation. Titled “U.S. World Heritage Sites-Tapping the Potential,” the unique gathering of public and private sector representatives of the preservation and conservation communities and the tourism industry launched an important and ongoing effort to promote U.S. World Heritage Sites as a component of Administration efforts designed to stimulate international travel to the U.S. The President called for a National Travel and Tourism Strategy in January to draw international visitors to the U.S. The Strategy was published in May and specifically mentioned U.S. World Heritage Sites as tourism assets.

Plaque designating the Chaco Culture National Historical Park as a World Heritage Site

This year marks the 40th anniversary of UNESCO’s World Heritage Convention, which was initially conceived of and promoted by the U.S. Today the Convention is the most widely-adopted UNESCO convention and nearly 1000 cultural and natural sites of “Outstanding Universal Value” have been entered on the World Heritage List. Twenty-one of those are in the U.S. (See the NPS World Heritage website for more information.) Under the National Historic Preservation Act, the ACHP is designated a consultant to the Departments of Interior and State on U.S. participation in the World Heritage program.

The ACHP undertook this initiative to further its goals of promoting heritage tourism as an economic development tool. One dimension of the discussions was how the pre-eminent U.S. World Heritage Sites could contribute to regional tourism, in conjunction with such existing programs as Preserve America and National Heritage Areas

The meeting was the beginning of a collaborative effort that will continue with a coalition based on the initial participants and the organizations they represent. A report of the proceedings is available here.

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