UNESCO conference at Delphi seeks balance between growth and heritage

UNESCO conference at Delphi seeks balance between growth and heritage

An international conference opened in Delphi on Thursday to address the challenges of protecting cultural landmarks from increased tourism and other forms of pressure on vulnerable sites and monuments.

Marking the 50th anniversary of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, the November 17-18 conference brings together experts from different parts of the world, who are taking stock of UNESCO’s achievements so far and assessing the way ahead.

The topic is especially poignant for Greece, which has 18 UNESCO World Heritage sites, more than half of which – including Delphi itself – date to ancient times and have come under increasing pressure from the massive rise in tourist numbers over recent years and the need to fill state coffers.

“The Greek crisis exacerbated the decline of the scientific model … to the benefit of growth, which is now more of a priority than ever,” Yannis Theocharis, an archaeologist at the Culture Ministry, was quoted by Agence-France Press as saying on Thursday.

“Numerous monuments have been degraded,” added Theocharis, who is also the vice president of the Union of Greek Archaeologists.

“The reception and management of visitors poses major challenges. Greece is making a real effort to take into account what is at stake from over-tourism, with tangible results,” World Heritage Center director Lazare Eloundou Assomo told AFP at the Delphi conference.

The conference is organized by the Ministry of Culture and the Permanent Delegation of Greece to UNESCO in cooperation with the UNESCO World Heritage Center. 

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