Sharing experiences in managing UNESCO sites: the Dolomites have their say in Mantua

The seminar “Esperienza di gestione dei Siti UNESCO: patrimonio culturale e dinamiche del turismo” (“Sharing experiences in managing UNESCO sites: cultural heritage and the dynamics of tourism”) is part of ArtLab2016, an event organised by the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Tourism to share and discuss experiences on a national and international level and held in preparation for the 7th National Conference of Sites inscribed on the World Heritage List (WHL) which will take place in Rome this November.

Accessible inclusive tourism, relieving congestion of flows, cultural and historical tourism, limited access, cycle paths and shared management strategies were just some examples of positive experiences implemented to safeguard the fragile nature of the territories in the six UNESCO sites which had been invited to take part in the UNESCO seminar held on 30 September in Mantua.

Representatives from the following World Heritage Sites attended: the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, the Loire Valley, rock art in the Camonica Valley, the Alhambra, Mantua and Sabbioneta and, lastly, the Dolomites.

The day’s events

The meeting began with a word of warning from the Undersecretary of MiBACT, Ilaria Borletti Buitoni, who explained that some UNESCO sites, like Venice, are in danger of losing their identity and need to come up with a more effective strategy to manage their tourist flows without further ado. Maria Grazia Bellisario and Angela Maria Ferroni from the UNESCO office of the General Secretary of MiBACT then reminded those present of the importance of drawing up management plans for UNESCO sites which meet the dual objective of safeguarding sites for future generations and promoting awareness on how to use them.

The UNESCO Dolomites were represented by the Director of the Foundation Marcella Morandini, who presented the Overall Management Strategy which also contains the Sustainable Tourism Strategy. The Director led a discussion on its example of best practice, the participatory process #Dolomites2040, whose aim was to involve the myriad of people who operate in the vast, fragmentary UNESCO Dolomites serial Property in the coordination of its activities. The case study fascinated the participants, due to the innovative notion of applying inclusivity in the decision-making process.

The last item on the agenda was a round table entitled “Managing UNESCO Sites: virtuous cases, critical issues and opportunities arising from Italian and international experiences” coordinated by Paolo Castelnovi (Fitzcarraldo Foundation). The participants were encouraged to discuss the extension of their Properties and the deseasonalisation of tourism. These discussions revealed the need to extend both time and space, and the necessity of investing in the local communities, raising their awareness of the principles of quality and sustainability in their approach to the Property.

Photo credit: R. J. Heat | Flickr