Published November 17, 2009
UNESCO is set to team up with TripAdvisor in order for the public to be aware of what to do to save the world’s most precious sites. TOURISM-REVIEW.COM report.
TripAdvisor has around 25 million online visitors per month, meaning it is a great source of information and the ideal place to collect data and feedback about traveling around the globe. On the other hand, UNESCO is the well-known representative for cultural and natural sites, indeed of 890 of them. Almost every tourist has his/her favorites, so it is no surprise to find the desire to maintain these places.
It is very common to hear somebody promoting their town by declaring that a certain monument or building is a UNESCO World Heritage site. However, roughly 29% of the American public does not know how to help the preservation of their favorite places. This is despite the fact that 72% of the same people declared an interest in being actively involved in saving the 890 places.
The cooperation of UNESCO and TripAdvisor has been planned for a period of two years, with the latter providing the former with US$1.5 million over the same period.
The aim of UNESCO is not only to raise awareness of World Heritage but also to receive member feedback about the sites. Using customised review forms, travellers can submit their comments on the condition of the sites through TripAdvisor and find out more on how to help protect them.
The most popular UNESCO sites, according to surveys, are the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador, the Grand Canyon, the Acropolis and the Venice lagoon. There is naturally a plethora others, which people all around the world would like to preserve.
One such place is Kilwa Kisiwani, off the East African coast. Once a famous city, Kilwa appears to be running out of time.
For many centuries, Kilwa Kisiwani, located in today’s Tanzania, used to function as a major East African trading centre. Tradesmen from Zimbabwe brought in their gold and iron, Tanzanians sold ivory and slaves and many Asian tradesmen offered their jewelry, porcelain as well as spices.
Its popularity massively increased in the 4th century, when a trader called Ali bin Al-Hasan purchased the place. By the 12th century, Kilwa developed into the most powerful city of the East African coast. Due to its flourishing trade and power, Kilwa was in the centre of attention of many countries that were fighting to gain control over the area; the Portuguese, the French, and the Germans took turns in controlling Kilwa. However, centuries of divided control resulted in the city being basically deserted by the 1840s.
Its precious treasures remained hidden until massive excavation works started in 1950s. The Great Mosque, the Mkutini Palace, and many stone houses and tombs were the major archeological finds of the excavation works. In 2002, a joint project of the French and Tanzanians was started to secure the conservation of the Great Mosque. Even though the effort to preserve Kilwa is intense, it has been seriously threatened by the changing climate. Some of the masonry structures are already falling apart. For that reason, the UNESCO decided to include Kilwa on the top list of World Heritage in Danger in 2004.
Kilwa is a unique place. There are not many cities in the East African region whose history we are able to trace back so far. Especially thanks to two 16th century chronicles found here: the History of Kilwa, written in Arabic, and the Chrónica dos Reyes de Quiloa. Even though the links are not perfect, a lot of information may still be gained from these two sources of immense importance.
Tourists are still welcome here, though it is necessary for anyone to obtain an official permit to visit the site. It is quite a spectacle not to be missed, especially when in a few decades, Kilwa may not be the same place as it is today.
Thanks to the information from UNESCO, which is set to be filtered through TripAdvisor, their roles could finally change from being passive to very active and every party could turn out to be a winner.