The care of cultural heritage, key for the future of tourism

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The care of cultural heritage, key for the future of tourism
Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO
Tue April 16, 2019

Audrey Azoulay, Director General of UNESCO highlighted the importance of preservation to ensure the development of cultural tourism as a source of growth


According to UNESCO, heritage "is the legacy we received from the past, which is maintained in the present and transmitted to future generations. Cultural and natural heritage are irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration. " In this way, the cultural heritage of a territory is a good that transcends over time and the memory of its inhabitants and visitors, because of its importance to reflect their identity, preserve their customs and ultimately tell their artistic or daily history.

The cultural heritage can be very varied, and it is diversified or segmented according to the customs, traditions and goods that make it up. The typology of assets considered as patrimonial is extensive, and includes buildings, parks, natural monuments, museums, works of art, books or gastronomy. All this cultural diversity must be protected, and its conservation can be very complex and thorough.
The protection and conservation of heritage is governed by laws that may be local, national or even continental, as is the case in Europe that has established standards, common in all countries of the union, for the preservation of its cultural heritage. The constant in these regulations is to establish preventive protection mechanisms, so that heritage assets are maintained over time.

Inventory, diagnosis and planning, keys to preserve heritage
The protection and conservation of cultural heritage begins with recognition of each and every one of the elements that make it up. By having it inventoried and constantly updated, continuous diagnoses can be established to optimize the interventions and thus carry out actions that reduce, minimize and even annul the effect of the risks and conditions to which cultural goods are subjected. In the case of heritage buildings, for example, it is necessary to foresee and counteract the anthropic effects (such as pollution, tourism, interventions or works in the vicinity, etc.) and environmental effects (such as climate, the incidence of light, etc) among others.
We must take into account the factors that can cause damage to heritage assets, making a diagnosis and planning based on different studies carried out on these elements and developing regular inspection and maintenance programs, as envisaged by many of the conservation laws of the cultural heritage of Spain. These inspection programs must also include emergency and emergency plans in case of fires, floods, biological infections or natural disasters.

Society is the main protector of cultural heritage
Raising awareness of new generations is a fundamental part of the protection and conservation of a territory's heritage. Regulated education must include content about heritage, which affects the concept that cultural heritage is a heritage that is part of our identity as a society and that, exploited in a sustainable manner, can become the economic engine of a territory.

As part of this commitment, public bodies should encourage the training of professionals focused on the preservation, conservation, dissemination and promotion of cultural assets, increasing the role of specialists related to history, architecture, archeology and even paleontology, thus enabling the company to count on experts that guarantee the optimal management of its cultural heritage.

The Director General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, vindicated the need for cultural heritage and tourism to be preserved in order to be accessible and "not leave anyone aside".

Finally, the head of UNESCO recalled that tourism generates one in 10 jobs and that involves 10% of the gross domestic product of a country. However, he warned of the risks of "mass tourism" for "the communities and the identity" of the countries, so he opted for "sustainable trips" with "less ecological impact".

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