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San Antonio Missions Seek Designation as World Heritage Site

U.S. Withholding UNESCO Dues Could Jeopardize

by John Michaelson (TNS)

SAN ANTONIO, Texas – The years-long effort to secure a World Heritage Site designation for the Alamo and the other San Antonio Missions could be in jeopardy. The designation is awarded by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), but the United States has been withholding UNESCO dues since Palestine was admitted as a member state in 2011.

The international politics could prove to be a hurdle, said Shanon Miller, director of the San Antonio office of Historic Preservation.

“We don’t know how that might affect how the application is reviewed,” Miller said. “We would hate for an application from the United States to not be successful because of other political considerations, so we do hope that that situation can be remedied in some way.”

International politics could prove a hurdle in the effort to have the San Antonio Missions be designated a World Heritage Site. Pictured is the Mission San Jose Church. Photo: Texas News Service

International politics could prove a hurdle in the effort to have the San Antonio Missions be designated a World Heritage Site. Pictured is the Mission San Jose Church. Photo: Texas News Service

The application is due early next year, and the decision will be made in 2015. If approved, the Missions of San Antonio would be the first World Heritage site in Texas. Other sites include the Statue of Liberty, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and the pyramids of Egypt.

The designation would help protect the valuable cultural and historical significance of the Missions, which are like none other in the world, according to Suzanne Scott, general manager, San Antonio River Authority.

“The cultural resources that are intact, the way that the Missions were established, are unique,” Scott said. “The preservation of this and being able to celebrate this worldwide is extremely important.”

Becoming a World Heritage site would also mean a boon economically through increased tourism, Miller noted, pointing to a recent study by Bexar County.

“The designation would produce anywhere from $44 million to $105 million in additional economic activity,” Scott explained. “In addition, we might see up to 1,000 new jobs and anywhere from $1 million to $2 million in additional local hotel tax revenue.”

The Missions of San Antonio include Mission Concepcion, Mission San Jose, Mission San Juan, Mission Espada and Mission San Antonio de Valero, better known as the Alamo. This is World Heritage Week in San Antonio.

More information is available at www.missionsofsanantonio.org.

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