With a stunning visit to the Everglades the day before serving as a strong reminder, Director-General Irina Bokova turned her attention to a private-public sector roundtable on World Heritage and Sustainable Tourism in Miami on Monday. Joining a panel of local leaders in the tourism industry and conservation, the Director-General highlighted the importance of better integrating cultural heritage preservation, sustainable tourism and local communities, pointing out that cultural heritage is a powerful driver for social and economic development at the community level.The Director-General was mindful of the efforts undertaken at the Everglades National Park, a World Heritage Site since 1979, to integrate it into the lives of young people and their parents by serving as both a place of learning for thousands of school-age children and an economic driver, creating jobs that support the local economy. “It is important that there be a comprehensive approach to heritage preservation in its various forms, be it natural, cultural or intangible heritage, in order to educate younger generations to the need to preserve it, not just as a historical legacy but as a living and fundamental component of our lives and communities,” she said.
William Talbert III, president and CEO of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitor’s Bureau backed up the Director-General’s comments with eye-opening statistics on national and local tourism. “International tourists make up 70% of all tourism in the United States,” Talbert said, “and Miami alone saw a 9% increase in foreign visitors last year.”
|Heron photo from my visit last year to the Everglades|