The European Commission and the European Parliament in collaboration with UNESCO, organized a photo exhibition on 15 November 2016 to celebrate the UNESCO World Heritage sites in Europe inscribed in 2015 and 2016. The new World Heritage sites join the EU’s network of over 300 sites. The exhibition was an opportunity to showcase the EU’s commitment to supporting World Heritage in the lead up to the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018.
Held at the Parlamentarium in Brussels, the event brought together Antonio Tajani, Vice-President of the European Parliament, Eric Falt, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for External Relations, Elżbieta Bieńkowska, European Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Silvia Costa, Member of the European Parliament, Chair of the Committee on Culture and Education, István Ujhelyi, Member of the European Parliament, Chair of the Tourism Task Force, officials from the European Commission, European Parliament, UNESCO, as well as the site managers and representatives from some of the newly inscribed European World Heritage sites.
The event was an opportunity to discuss the importance of World Heritage inscription as well as the opportunities it creates for sustainable tourism development. During the event, Eric Falt highlighted ‘World heritage embodies a revolutionary idea, a humanistic idea – that people of all cultures can unite around outstanding universal value. The World Heritage sites we celebrate here today, from cultural landscapes to masterpieces of creative genius, are shining examples of these shared values.’
During the evening, UNESCO, the European Commission and the Parliament unveiled a joint project underway, ‘World Heritage Journeys in Europe’. The pilot project is developing a series of transnational tourism routes focused on cultural heritage and aims to raise the global profile of destination Europe and increase investment in tourism and the creative industries.
In her intervention, Elżbieta Bieńkowska recalled the European Commission cooperation with UNESCO. ‘We have started a fruitful cooperation with UNESCO, together hopefully we will develop a new approach to enhance the profile of Cultural Heritage sites as tourism destinations” she said.
The project is funded by the Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG-Growth) and UNESCO, and is being developed in collaboration with the European Travel Commission and National Geographic.
The photo exhibition ‘Celebrating the new UNESCO World Heritage sites in Europe’ can be visited at the Press Club Brussels Europe, rue Froissart/Froissartstraat 95, 1040 Brussels, from 17 November until 2 December 2016.