Pro­tect her­itage sites’ lega­cies

China Daily (Canada) - - COMMENT -

UNESCO World Her­itage sites should use the honor to bet­ter pro­tect their tan­gi­ble and in­tan­gi­ble lega­cies, in­stead of rais­ing ticket prices to make more money, says an ar­ti­cle in Xin­hua Daily Tele­graph. Ex­cerpts:

The 38th an­nual ses­sion of the UNESCO World Her­itage Com­mit­tee, held in Doha, added China’s 2,400-year-old Grand Canal and a sec­tion of the an­cient trade route of the Silk Road to the World Her­itage list. Al­though it’s a great honor for the coun­try, people are wor­ried that new world her­itage sites may raise their ticket prices.

Such con­cern is un­der­stand­able, be­cause most scenic spots in China, in­clud­ing the Palace Mu­seum in Bei­jin­gandHuang­shanMoun­tain in­An­huiprovince, have raised their ticket prices af­ter be­ing added to the UNESCOWorldHer­itage list in the past two decades.

It is true that lo­cal gov­ern­ments spend huge amounts of money to ap­ply to UNESCO seek­ing world her­itage sta­tus for the sites. But it is also true that lo­cal gov­ern­ments ex­ploit such a recog­ni­tion to in­crease their fis­cal rev­enue in­stead of pre­serv­ing their cul­tural lega­cies.

People can still visit the West Lake in Hangzhou, Zhe­jiang prov­ince, free of charge even af­ter it be­came a UNESCO World Her­itage in 2011. How could the lo­cal govern­ment af­ford to do that? And isn’t it a good ex­am­ple for other lo­cal gov­ern­ments to fol­low?

Preser­va­tion and pro­tec­tion al­ways come be­fore de­vel­op­ment and uti­liza­tion. So gov­ern­ments should re­al­ize that the ul­ti­mate pur­pose of seek­ing world her­itage sta­tus for lo­cal sites is to bet­ter pro­tect them for pos­ter­ity and not to make money.

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