SAN ANTONIO, Texas – At the historic Mission Concepción, Secretary of the
Interior Ken Salazar today announced that the Department of the Interior
has officially authorized the San Antonio Franciscan Missions for
nomination to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage List.
Secretary Salazar’s visit to the urban parks of San Antonio is part of
President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative to establish a 21st
century approach to conservation Century and to reconnect Americans to our
nation’s natural, cultural, and historic heritage – growing outdoor
recreation, travel and tourism economy and creating jobs in communities
across the country.
“World Heritage Sites represent an incredible opportunity for the United
States to market our most significant places as destinations for domestic
and international travelers,” said Secretary Salazar. “San Antonio Missions
National Historical Park preserves four missions that embody the cultural
roots of this great city and represents the single largest concentration of
Spanish Colonial resources in the United States. As we continue to make
progress in achieving this prestigious status for the Missions and for San
Antonio, we also are moving forward to make America the world’s number one
tourist destination – creating jobs and growing our economy.”
Today’s announcement represents a key step in an official process whereby
the National Park Service will propose the nomination to the 21-nation
World Heritage Committee during the next available round of nominations. It
comes as the U.S. National Committee for ICOMOS (International Council on
Monuments and Sites) celebrates the 40th anniversary of the UNESCO World
Heritage Convention as part of its annual international symposium, held
this year in San Antonio, where Secretary Salazar delivered remarks last
The nomination dossier will be completed by the end of 2013, in time for
consideration by the World Heritage Committee in 2015.
World Heritage listing is a prestigious designation that acknowledges the
historical, cultural or natural value of a site, as well as the commitment
of the sovereign nation and the site’s owners to its long-term protection
and management. Under the World Heritage Convention, the Secretary of the
Interior is charged with identifying and nominating worthy U.S. sites that
display superlative cultural and/or natural attributes for designation.
Current World Heritage Sites in the United States include some of our most
iconic places, ranging from historic places such as Independence Hall and
Mesa Verde to spectacular natural parks like the Grand Canyon and Yosemite.
The San Antonio Franciscan Missions, currently on the Tentative List of
Potential Future Nominations and recently recommended for World Heritage
nomination by the Federal Interagency Panel for World Heritage, includes
four missions (San Antonio Missions National Historical Park) and the Alamo
(Mission San Antonio de Valero).
“The missions represent an important – and often overlooked – chapter of
our nation’s history,” Salazar added. “It’s important that visitors from
around the world know and celebrate the contributions of Latinos to the
fabric of America, and these missions help tell that story in a very real
The World Heritage Convention in many ways extends and elaborates on the
national park concept, first developed in the United States, on the global
scale. Better marketing of these sites to international travelers is a
critical part of the Obama administration’s National Tourism and Travel
Strategy, which delivered on President Obama’s call in January for a
national strategy to promote domestic and international travel
opportunities throughout the United States.
In his remarks, Secretary Salazar noted the strong economic benefits
offered by the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. Attracting
more than 1.6 million visitors a year, the Park supports nearly $100
million in economic activity annually. Those dollars translate into over
1,100 jobs for the local San Antonio community. A National Parks
Conservation Association report estimated that a $1 investment in the park
yields $16 in local economic activity.
International travelers tend to stay longer and spend more on everything
from hotels, to restaurants, to rental cars and airfare. As the national
economy continues to recover, making the U.S. an even more attractive
international destination, better highlighting our most significant
attractions – like the San Antonio Missions – and facilitating the arrival
of international travelers will create homegrown jobs in the travel and
tourism industry and encourage economic growth.