World Heritage Alliance

By: Erick Laseca

Mexico’s Tourism Board is extending their congratulations to the new members of the Alliance and as well as to the World Heritage Alliance (WHA) on their first year in operation. The WHA is an industry-leading initiative that was jointly formed by Expedia? and the UN Foundation in 2005 to promote sustainable tourism and awareness of World Heritage sites and communities around the world.  Expedia, Inc. (Nasdaq: EXPE) and the United Nations Foundation (UN Foundation) celebrated the one-year anniversary of the WHA yesterday by announcing the addition of ten new members and four new associate partners at an event in Los Angeles.

Mexico Tourism Secretary and Rodolfo Elizondo and Mexico Tourism Board CEO Magdalena Carral signed a letter of intent with the representatives of the World Heritage Alliance to jointly promote and preserve Mexico’s 26 World Heritage sites. The signing, which marked the first time a national tourism secretariat made such an agreement with the Alliance, took place in March during Mexico’s largest and most important travel trade fair, Tourism Tianguis 2006.

Mexico’s governmental tourism entities joined the founding members of the World Heritage Alliance, Expedia, Inc. and the United Nations Foundation, to educate travelers and the travel industry about the importance of responsible tourism and World Heritage conservation; encourage community-based sustainable tourism development in and around World Heritage sites; and promote the beauty and significance of Mexico’s cultural and natural World Heritage sites around the globe.

“We were honored to be the first associate partner to help promote and preserve Mexico’s 26 World Heritage sites," said Magdalena Carral, CEO of Mexico’s Tourism Board. “We are thrilled to learn of all of the new members of the Alliance, as these travel industry companies are showing true leadership in helping Mexico promote sustainable tourism."

The nine new members joining the WHA are: Camino Real Hotels, Club Méditerranée (Club Med), El Sueño Hotel and Spa, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, Maroma Resort and Spa, Mayaland Resorts Group, Paraiso de la Bonita Resort and Thalasso, Radar Tours, and Solimar Marketing and Travel.  Several of the new members will begin their work in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, home to five of Mexico’s 26 World Heritage sites.

The WHA offers two levels of partnership, each being committed to advancing the WHA mission: WHA members and WHA associate partners. WHA members consists of travel industry companies, such as hotels, tour operators, travel agents, airlines and cruises, among others. WHA associate partners are NGOs, civil society groups, government bodies and other organizations not exclusively devoted to tourism.

                                                        

The 13 new members will build on the momentum and results created by the founding partners, Expedia and the UN Foundation. Over the past year, the Alliance has accomplished several goals, including the launch of the Expedia? Employee Program, and the implementation of five training programs and an online course for local travel industry suppliers and partners in the Yucatan Peninsula. Additionally, Expedia is offering special package trips to some of the world’s most cherished sites, found at www.expedia.com/worldheritage.

The company will donate all profits to the Friends of World Heritage Fund to support communities in and around World Heritage sites.

In addition to the WHA’s current associate partners — the Mexico Tourism Board and the Secretary of Tourism for Mexico, which joined forces with the WHA last March — the following four organizations have signed on as associate partners: Academex Digital Publishing, Destination Ventures, Ltd, the Rainforest Alliance and Rare Conservation. The associate partners will help the WHA members implement the commitments such as consumer education, community development and technical training.

Mexico is ranked first in the Americas and eighth worldwide in UNESCO sites, a distinction given to places of historical, cultural and natural relevance to the world. The Agave Landscape and Ancient Industrial Facilities in Tequila, Jalisco, declared a World Heritage Site in 2006, are the most recent addition to Mexico’s impressive list.

About the Mexico Tourism Board

The Mexico Tourism Board (MTB) brings together the resources of federal and state governments, municipalities and private companies to promote Mexico's tourism attractions and destinations internationally. Created in 1999, the MTB is Mexico’s tourism promotion agency, and its participants include members of both the private and public sectors. The MTB has offices throughout North America, Europe, Asia and Latin America.  

About Chichen-Itza, the World Wonder

Swiss-based New7Wonders Foundation is revising the original seven ancient wonders of the world, and Mexico’s Chichen-Itza in Yucatan State is one of 21 finalists to become a new Seven World Wonder. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998, Chichen-Itza is considered to have been one of the greatest Mayan centers of the Yucatan peninsula, and today is one of the largest and most impressive archaeological

sites in Mexico. To vote for Chichen-Itza as one of the new Seven World Wonders, visit www.new7wonders.com

FOR PRESS ONLY: For additional ideas, help with a story or general travel and tourism information about Mexico, please contact the MTB’s North American Press Room directly at 1-800-929-4555, by e-mail at northamericanpress@visitmexico.com, or visit our press Web site at www.visitmexicopress.com.  To access an online warehouse of free, downloadable b-rollFree Web Content, visit www.thenewsmarket.com/visitmexicopress.


Erick Laseca

Mexico Tourism Board

312-228-0517

erick.laseca@bm.com

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