Monday, March 26, 2012

The U.S. Department of State's World Heritage Video Challenge

To help mark the 40th Anniversary of the World Heritage Convention, the National Park Service, HISTORY, and the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO want to hear from you!

Simply film a short video (no more than 2 minutes) to explain why you think a particular U.S. World Heritage site is important to the world.

Winners may have their videos shown on the History Channel.

For more information, click here.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Everglades National Park seeks more visitors

Everglades National Park is poised to become more of a tourism focus as a first-time national marketing effort to draw visitors to the United States — with an emphasis on national parks — gets under way.At a group discussion Monday that included representatives from Miami-Dade County and a United Nations agency, experts tossed around ideas about how to bring more attention to the park both internationally and locally.Irina Bokova, director-general of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, came to South Florida to visit the 1.5 million-acre park during a 10-day tour of the United States.

Everglades National Park is one of just 21 sites in the United States on UNESCO’s World Heritage list — and the nation’s only property included on the “sites in danger” list.Calling it “one of our jewels on the World Heritage list,” Bokova said the park has the potential to bring more revenue and jobs through tourism — as long as there is an emphasis on sustainable growth to protect the fragile wetlands. About a million people visit Everglades National Park each year; 30 percent of those are from outside the United States, said park Superintendent Dan Kimball.

Many of those international visitors come to the park because it is a World Heritage site, Kimball said. But he wondered how to improve that brand’s recognition within the United States and South Florida. “We do not have an appropriation for marketing,” he said. “Our idea of marketing is putting a brown sign on the highway.”William D. Talbert III, president and CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, acknowledged that not even locals familiar with the park know of its World Heritage designation.

He suggested including the World Heritage brand on all of the park’s material, including letterhead and business cards.He also pointed out the interest — and money — growing to highlight natural resources such as Everglades National Park. In mid-January, President Barack Obama issued an executive order that took several steps to increase tourism to the United States, including promoting national parks.

A public-private marketing partnership called Brand USA created two years ago to promote the entire country as a destination is preparing to roll out its first marketing and advertising campaign later this year. The group expects to invest as much as $200 million in marketing every year.For now, Kimball thought of at least one thing he can do easily.“Why am I not putting in my email block that I’m superintendent of a World Heritage site?” he said. “I’ll do that this afternoon.”

Read more here:

Friday, March 16, 2012

Inviting the world to visit Philadelphia

By Ken Salazar

Most Americans recognize Independence Hall as one of the most famous symbols of Philadelphia, the nation's birth, and the freedom we share as a people. Philadelphians may know it as the top tourist destination in the city, attracting 3.7 million visitors who spend $146 million every year and support more than 2,100 jobs. But we can do more to welcome tourists from across the country and especially around the globe to places like Independence Hall.

President Obama wants America to be the top tourist destination in the world, and Philadelphia's history and culture make it a great place to start. Today I will join Irina Bokova, the director general of the U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), at Independence National Historic Park to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the World Heritage Convention, which recognizes nearly 1,000 sites around the world for their natural or cultural significance. Independence Hall is one of just 21 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in America.

While many Americans may not be aware of the designation, it carries great weight internationally. In Europe and Asia, many families plan their vacations around World Heritage Sites, and communities and businesses develop marketing strategies to take advantage of the prestigious designation.
Unfortunately, even though the United States was the driving force behind the establishment of the convention in 1972, we haven't done enough to market our sites internationally. At Independence Hall, which isn't as well known to foreigners as the Grand Canyon or Yosemite, just 7 percent of the visitors are from other countries.

International tourists tend to stay longer and spend more than their domestic counterparts. In 2010, nearly 60 million foreign visitors pumped more than $134 billion into the U.S. economy, making tourism America's No. 1 service export.

There's no reason we can't make it even bigger, creating more jobs at hotels and resorts, car rental companies, airlines, restaurants, and other businesses. If our economy is going to continue to get stronger, we must tap into every opportunity for growth. And the more people visit America, the more Americans we can get back to work.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Secretary Salazar to Host Town Hall at Independence Hall to Discuss Travel and Tourism

Will celebrate 40th Anniversary of UNESCO’s World Heritage Convention which draws visitors from around the globe to Philadelphia’s Independence Hall.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Thursday, Mar. 15, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis will host a town hall meeting at Independence National Historical Park to discuss how to boost travel and tourism as a means to strengthen local economies and create jobs in Philadelphia.

Secretary Salazar and Director Jarvis will join Congressman Chaka Fattah and Irina Bokova, the Director General of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), who is visiting Independence Hall to mark the 40th anniversary of the World Heritage Convention. The World Heritage Convention, the international treaty that established the World Heritage List, seeks to recognize and protect unique places around the world for future generations, such as the Pyramids of Egypt, the Taj Mahal in India, the Acropolis in Greece and the Grand Canyon.

As one of only eight U.N.-designated cultural World Heritage sites in the United States, Independence Hall draws more than 3.7 million visitors each year, generates $146 million in economic activity and supports more than 2,100 jobs. Independence National Historical Park is one of 18 National Parks in Pennsylvania that serve as premier destinations for international tourists to explore our nation’s cultural heritage.

In January, President Obama directed his administration to create a new national tourism strategy focused on creating jobs by becoming even more welcoming to guests from here at home and from all over the globe. As part of this initiative, Secretary Salazar and Secretary of Commerce John Bryson are working to develop recommendations for a National Travel and Tourism Strategy to promote domestic and international travel opportunities throughout the United States, thereby expanding job creation, with a particular focus on strategies for increasing tourism and recreation jobs by promoting visits to our national treasures, such as Independence Hall.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Colombia Halts Hydrocarbon Exploration in World Heritage Area

BOGOTÁ, Colombia, March 5, 2012 (ENS) - Colombia's Council of State has ordered a halt to exploration for oil and gas in the country's Quindío region, which has been declared part of the UNESCO World Heritage Coffee Cultural Landscape. The region produces some of the world's highest quality coffee.

Issued last week, the government decree requires the suspension of all exploration by the National Agency of Hydrocarbons and the Drilling 2010 consortium in the Quindío region, an exploration project which covers a large area.

Presented by Quindío's Office of the Ombudsman, the decree supports the concerns of many of the region's landowners regarding land access. The landowners also fear that environmental deterioration could result the proposed drilling of 15 meter (50 foot) deep holes and insertion of an explosive product, Sismigel Plus.

The World Heritage Commission said, "It must be remembered that President Juan Manuel Santos ordered that no mining projects be carried out on property declared as UNESCO World Heritage."

The project is on hold awaiting a statement by the Colombian government.
In the western central region of the country, crossed by the Andes mountains the Quindío region lies in the center of a triangle formed by Colombia's three main cities - Bogotá, Medellín and Cali.
The region is one of the most important producers of Colombian coffee. The department belongs to the Colombian Coffee-Growers Axis, which is the center of production and export of the highest quality coffee in Colombia.

The World Heritage property reflects a 100-year-old tradition of coffee growing in small plots in the high forest and the way farmers have adapted cultivation to difficult mountain conditions.

It encompasses six farming landscapes, which include 18 urban centers on the foothills of the western and central ranges of the Cordillera de los Andes situated on the relatively flat tops of hills above sloping coffee fields.

U.S. Nominations to the World Heritage List; 15-Day Notice of Opportunity for Public Comment

This is a First Notice for the public to comment on the next potential U.S. nominations from the U.S. World Heritage Tentative List.

For more information, click here.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Australia: WWF Questions Government’s Great Barrier Reef Plans

WWF today challenged the Australian Government’s view that the Great Barrier Reef is being sustainably managed, citing publications showing that coral had declined by up to 50 per cent.
As UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee prepares to visit Queensland next month, after expressing “extreme concern” at port development and dredging impacts in the World Heritage area, the Australian Government submission to UNESCO claims the Reef was being sustainably managed.

But a recent article, published in the scientific journal Coral Reefs last year, found coral cover on the Great Barrier Reef had declined by up to 50 per cent since the 1960s*. The article cited monitoring that showed coral declines had continued in recent times, decreasing by around a quarter since the Great Barrier Reef was declared a World Heritage site in 1981.
“The Government’s conclusion is simply not supported by the science,” leader of WWF’s Great Barrier Reef program Nick Heath said.

“The Government’s report fails to acknowledge growing evidence that the Great Barrier Reef is in danger, including its own 2009 Outlook Report that warned of ‘catastrophic’ damage.”
“Coral cover has been slashed in half over the past 50 years, over a thousand starving turtles have washed up on Queensland beaches over the past year, rare marine species continue to be killed in fishing nets, and the State Government has been unable to explain high levels of disease in marine life around Gladstone, nor rule out industrial development as the cause.

“It’s hard to see how the Australian Government can claim in its report that the Great Barrier Reef will be passed on to future generations ‘retaining the values for which it was declared a World Heritage Area’,” Mr Heath said.

The government submission, State Party Report on the State of Conservation of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, also said LNG development and dredging at Gladstone were thoroughly assessed and had not ‘compromised’ the Reef’s World Heritage Values.
The UNESCO visit in March will put the spotlight squarely on the management of the Great Barrier Reef, and WWF is urging all levels of government to step up and commit to tougher policies on pollution and damaging fishing practices or risk the continuing demise of the World Heritage asset.

To better protect the Great Barrier Reef, WWF wants the next Queensland Government to:

- Cut Reef pollution through greater investment in farm innovation;
- Protect fish stocks, turtles and dugongs by taking fishing nets out of sensitive habitats;
- Save turtles and dugongs from illegal poaching with more Indigenous rangers;
- Establish a new ‘Reef Bank’ to invest money from the mining boom into Reef resilience programs.