15-Jul-06 - Story by : CR Staff
Jalisco’s Agave Landscape, a 34,658-hectare zone stretching from the outskirts of Zapopan towards the Nayarit border, was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO on Wednesday. The zone includes the municipality of Tequila, where the fiery spirit of the same name originates, as well as the towns of Amatitan and El Arenal, the Tequila Volcano and the ruins at Guachimontones. The designation forces municipalities in the zone to adopt rigorous standards for sustainable development and to preserve key buildings and sites. (The UNESCO designation includes several old tequila-producing installations.) If new development in the area fails to live up to UNESCO standards, Jalisco’s Agave Landscape could just as easily lose its status as a World Heritage Site.
The designation, handed down at the 30th session of the World Heritage Committee in Vilnius, Lithuania, promises to open new doors particularly for the tourism industry in Tequila. Officials expect more investment in infrastructure, including a growth in hotels, restaurants, hostels, and handicraft businesses. The Tequila area’s new status as a World Heritage Site will also serve as a powerful marketing tool to draw tourists, said an official from the Jalisco Department of Tourism.
Mexico now boasts 26 World Heritage sites, putting it among the countries with the greatest number of such sites, including China, France, Italy and Greece among others.
Sites on UNESCO list are protected under the 1972 Convention on the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage. To date, the list spans 137 countries, and includes 628 cultural sites, 160 natural sites and 24 mixed sites. The Convention is one of the most widely ratified international legal instruments, with 182 State Parties, and aims to provide the legal and regulatory framework to protect the selected sites.
The World Heritage Committee monitors the management of sites on the list and disburses more than four million dollars a year for emergency action, expert training and technical cooperation to safeguard unique heritage sites.