City of Ballarat Mayor Cr Samantha McIntosh and Coordinator Heritage and Cultural Landscapes Susan Fayad will attend the 15th World Congress of the Organization of World Heritage Cities in Krakow, Poland from June 2-5.
Ms Fayad will help facilitate expert sessions on Sustainable Tourism and the Heritage Urban Landscape (HUL) approach and be part of the Sustainable Tourism committee.
Ms Fayad’s participation is being paid in full by the Organization of World Heritage Cities, which has reduced the trip’s entire cost from $13,000 to $5000.
This invitation also recognises Ballarat’s leadership role, along with the City of Bendigo, within the 13 Central Highlands councils in their bid to achieve a UNESCO World Heritage listing for the Central Victorian Goldfields region.
If achieved, this listing has been estimated to boost the area’s economy by $68 million annually.
Ballarat and Bendigo are also leading a coalition which represents close to half a million people spread over nearly 40,000 square kilometres, or a substantial 17 per cent of the state.
Comparative sites that have achieved World Heritage listing have seen major economic and social benefits and this would be a major platform for Central Goldfields renewal and long-term prosperity.
It will also allow the City of Ballarat to gain exposure to new World Heritage networks, advocate for UNESCO Creative Cities Network membership and learn about key sustainable tourism insights.
The nine councils involved in a successful World Heritage listing of the Cornwall West Devon Mining Landscape have leveraged more than 90 million pounds of new investment in the area.
Cr McIntosh said she was proud to be promoting the bid for UNESCO World Heritage listing on behalf of the 13 Central Victorian councils.
“A World Heritage listing would have enormous benefits for the entire Central Goldfields region – it won’t just benefit Ballarat but Pyrenees, Moorabool and Central Goldfield shires as well,” Cr McIntosh said.
“However, to get these benefits for all of these communities we do need to have some level of international engagement – we have to be in the right place, with the right people, to hopefully add $68 million annually to our region’s economy.”
The Organization of World Heritage Cities (OWHC) is an international non-profit, non-governmental organization of 250 cities in which sites of the UNESCO World Heritage list are located. Altogether the 250-member cities have a population of more than 130 million.
The Mayor will also visit the Wieliczka Salt Mine, which became a UNESCO World Heritage listed site in 2010 and is one of Poland’s official national Historic Monuments. It is visited by 1.2 million visitors annually; A Krakow Waste to Energy plant, which includes an ecological education centre; The Rynek Underground, which is a high-tech subterranean museum charting the city’s history and situated below Krakow’s market square and which links in with Ballarat’s current investigations of underground tourism opportunities; The main market square of Krakow has been listed as the best public space in Europe due to its lively street life and which links in with Ballarat’s Creative Cities Strategy.