HERITAGE Asia – Pacific (heritAP)

A Network of Heritage Practitioners supported by WHITRAP Shanghai

The Impacts of COVID-19 Pandemic on World Heritage and the New Opportunities

The unprecedented crisis arising from the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 has had, and continues to have, major impacts on World Heritage properties globally. Among them have been the closure of World Heritage properties resulting in socio-economic impacts, disruption of community life in and around properties, loss of livelihoods, reduced maintenance, lack of protection and management and increased illegal activities, and serious issues related to the monitoring of the state of conservation.
Inevitably, our World Heritage properties have suffered too. The abrupt halt in travel and tourism cut off the stream of visitors and the revenue they bring, for some sites the only source of income to cover conservation, maintenance and salaries. The surrounding communities were affected adversely as well, with many people losing jobs and income.
Nonetheless we note positive aspects. For a number of properties, the halt in visitors and traffic meant a respite for natural areas, and in some cultural sites, rehabilitation or restoration works were made possible. Certain sites have been devoid of people for the first time ever, and drones were able to fly over them and film them in all of their splendour, untainted by human presence.
We have also seen a new focus on the digital aspects of heritage, ranging from creating virtual visits and online exhibitions to cataloguing inventory of heritage objects. In this presentation, the speaker will share our immediate experience of dealing with the pandemic and telling the stories the site managers and how they have coped in these exceptional circumstances.
For the Asia and the Pacific region, it is the first time in history of Periodic Reporting that all preparatory meetings for the Third Cycle of Periodic Reporting were held on-line only, due to the global situation that we have faced this year.