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  • 24
  • Dec
  • 2012

When was UNESCO started and what does it do today?

In several of our blogs, we mention that a particular place is a “UNESCO site”. Just what is UNESCO?  The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has been around for nearly 70 years and  its purpose is to award distinctions to some of the more scenic and exotic travel destinations around the globe.

You may have seen this term while looking for the right Alaska cruisetour or European river cruise, so here’s a little more information about how this organization came to be and how it became involved in the tourism industry.

Happy Traveler Comment
The Seine River cruise (preceded by a day in Paris) and then an extension to Madrid was one amazing trip, Wes Rowland did an amazing job of setting it up for us... He did everything so smoothly, and everything went according to plan... kudos to Wes, and although he's at a distance from me, I would use his services again in a heartbeat! — Joan

UNESCO formally started in 1945, and was the ultimate fruition of the work started by the Conference of Allied Ministers of Education (CAME), a meeting between members of European countries that were looking to take steps to improve their education systems once peace was restored following World War II.

While the organization was up and running in the late 1940s, it wasn’t until 1976 that the World Heritage Committee (WHC) began, with the first monuments and landmarks gaining distinction as World Heritage Sites in 1978.

Today, the WHC works to:
• Encourage more countries to sign the World Heritage Convention
• Promote public awareness of conservation
• Provide emergency assistance for World Heritage Sites that are in immediate danger.

From the Louvre to the Eiffel Tower, from the Place de la Concorde to the Grand and Petit Palais, this region of Paris is a UNESCO site.

The Eiffel Tower in Paris is a UNESCO site.

The World Heritage List includes 981 properties forming part of the cultural and natural heritage which the World Heritage Committee considers as having outstanding universal value. Some UNESCO World Heritage sites include Paris and the Banks of the Seine River in France, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, many ancient castles and cathedrals throughout Europe, the Acropolis in Greece, and even the Statue of Liberty and many National Parks in the U.S.

In certain situations, the group will add a historic site to its List of World Heritage in Danger, which allows the group to access funds, alert the international community of the issue and work with the government in charge of the landmark to ensure the safety of the location.

At present, members of the group are working to protect cultural locations such as the Iranian city of Bam, the Bamiyan Valley in Afghanistan and the Historic Town of Zabid in Yemen for the enjoyment of future generations.

If you are interested in visiting any of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, give any of our agents here at a call at 1-800-804-CRUIse (2784) and we will be happy to help you plan a memorable vacation for you and your family!

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