National Geographic and UNESCO have collaborated to create the first-ever web platform dedicated to World Heritage. The web launch will take place tomorrow, September 15th, coinciding with European Heritage Day event in Paris Headquarters.
The new travel platform – World Heritage Journeys of the EU – will aim to promote sustainable tourism, and encourage people to experience local regions and what they have to offer; rather than only exploring the major tourist spots. Director of the World Heritage Centre at UNESCO, Mechtild Rössler, outlined what UNESCO’s goal for this project is – ‘to change how people travel.’
The project wants visitors to new destinations to stay longer and ‘[experience] the local culture and its environment’, while gaining a deeper knowledge and appreciation of World Heritage values.
Why is sustainable tourism and travel important? It encourages positive growth in developing countries and areas of economic poverty, with the UN regarding it as ‘[an] agent for change in unstable environments and economies’.
The initiative has been co-funded by the European Union and incorporates 34 selected World Heritage sites across 19 EU countries. There are four cultural itineraries, each intertwining with the other and sharing the stories of Europe’s heritage and history. The website also has practical information and tools to aid travellers in planning and organising their European holiday.
The goal is to inspire and engage the rest of the travel and tourism industry to ‘develop and promote authentic tourism that aligns with the goals of the project.’