Protecting Your Favorite Travel Destinations

What do the Temples in Agrigento, Sicily, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, and Yosemite National Park in California all have in common? Any takers? They are all World Heritage sites. Odds are if you’ve traveled anywhere in the world or are planning a study abroad trip, you’ll visit at least one World Heritage site. What is a World Heritage site and why should you care? Well, if you want any of those beautiful locales to disappear, stop reading.

WHC Protects Temples Like This One in Agrigento, Sicilia

WHC Protects Temples Like This One in Agrigento, Sicilia

Traveling is not just about jotting things off your to do list. It’s about learning new cultures as well as our own past. In an effort to preserve important locations and habitat around the world, The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) developed the World Heritage Centre (WHC).  Centuries of habitation, exploration, and tourism have led to the deterioration of antique palaces, monuments,  marine reserves, and national parks. The World Heritage Centre nominates these places to its “World Heritage List,” to raise awareness and preserve the site’s legacy through additional government involvement.

Developed by an American in 1972 and modeled after the National Parks system, the World Heritage List recognizes sites that are natural or cultural or mixed and demonstrate a “universal value to humanity.” They represent remarkable architecture or technology, or ecological or biological importance.

Each year the World Heritage Committee nominates vulnerable areas of cultural and historical significance. This past week the Committee added to the list: the Stoclet House in Brussels, Belgium, The Tower of Hercules (an ancient lighthouse) in La Coruña, Spain, and the Swiss watch-manufacturing towns of La Chaux-de-Fonds / Le Locle. The Committee will conclude its nominating process in Sevilla, Spain on Tuesday, June 30th. Next year the U.S. government hopes to nominate Mount Vernon in Virginia and Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in Hawaii to this prestigious list.

Which World Heritage Sites have you visited? Check out this list. Some might surprise you. On a recent trip to Loreto, Mexico in Baja California Sur I went kayaking, clam diving, and snorkeling in the Sea of Cortez. Guess what? The islands and protected areas of the Gulf of California (aka, Sea of Cortez) are on the World Heritage List. An interesting fact: the UNESCO site in the Sea of Cortez is home to 695 plant species and 891 species of fish, more than any other marine or island property on the World Heritage List. Cool, huh?

Take a Stroll Down Andrássy Avenue in Budapest, Hungary

Take a Stroll Down Andrássy Avenue in Budapest, Hungary

Other recognizable locations include: the historic centres of Florence, Napoli, and Siena, Italy; Taj Mahal in India; the city of Budapest in Hungary; the Loire Valley in France; the Galápagos Islands in Ecuador; and Machu Picchu in Peru. I’ve been to five of the above mentioned sites…how about you?

You’ll notice most sites on the World Heritage List are famous. With fame comes challenges in preservation. The World Heritage Centre encourages visitors to be aware and travel responsibly. If you’re interested in learning more about how you can share and preserve World Heritage sites check out the Friends of World Heritage website. You can also donate to support communities around the sites. For every $1 donated, both Expedia and the United Nations Foundation will match your donation. Don’t forget to let Gulliver help you plan your next big adventure!

8 Responses to “Protecting Your Favorite Travel Destinations”


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  1. 1 More Travel Locations Get Protected Trackback on June 29, 2009 at 5:06 pm

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Gulliver helps students Study Abroad. Our blog covers: current issues in Study Abroad; featured posts by Study Abroad students; and Gulliver updates, news, and behind-the-scenes peaks. Thanks for reading!

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