International hospitality from Iceland to Bosnia
A total of 67 cultural heritage sites, many of which lie in urban areas, made the 2012 World Monuments Watch, a list issued every two years by the World Monuments Fund (WMF), an independent organization devoted to saving the world’s treasured places.
The list, which includes 41 countries and territories, dating from the fourth millennium BC to 2003, contains many places threatened by poorly managed tourism. Among these places is Charleston, South Carolina, where the city’s historic character is being threatened by an increasing number of cruise ship arrivals, and the ancient Nasca lines and geoglyphs in the desert of southern Peru, which has yet to implement its master plan for tourism. The WMF also called for immediate action to combat water infiltration and structural deterioration at the cathedral church of St Michael in Coventry, England.
In some cases, the 2012 Watch supports an existing plan to address tourism challenges, while in others it advocates for the development of one. The organization helps local entities leverage funding from governments, philanthropies, international aid organizations, and corporate and private donors. From its founding in 1996 through 2010, the WMF allocated $90 million — from corporate sponsors like American Express, foundations, grants and private donors – for projects on the watch list, while an additional $174 million was allocated by other organizations.
One place that has the potential for well-managed tourism, the WMF noted, is the site of the palace and garden of China’s Nanyue Kingdom, located beneath the city of Guangzhou, with relics from 13 dynasties dating from the 2nd Century BC. Although the Chinese government has built a museum devoted to artefacts from the site, it still needs a sustainable plan for visitor access, interpretation and enjoyment by locals.
The 2012 Watch, which includes more urban sites and areas than previous lists, also incorporates places affected by natural disasters, including heritage sites in Japan that require physical and cultural rebuilding after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami; Gothic revival government buildings in Christchurch, New Zealand, that were damaged by earthquakes in September 2010 and February 2011; and the gingerbread, cast-iron and brick, turn-of-the-20th-century architecture in the historic district of Jacmel, Haiti, that was damaged by the January 2010 earthquake.