United Nations Foundation and Expedia announced the launch of the World Heritage Alliance, an innovative joint initiative to promote sustainable tourism and awareness of World Heritage sites and communities around the world. This partnership believes conscientious travelers can contribute directly to nature conservation, historic preservation, and poverty reduction through sustainable tourism.
"As one of the world's leading travel service providers, Expedia has the unique privilege of helping educate our customers, suppliers, and employees about the importance of sustainable tourism," said Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Expedia, Inc. "By working with the UN Foundation to found the World Heritage Alliance, we hope to expand our customers' travel horizons and help preserve our world's treasures for current and future generations to enjoy."
There are currently 812 designated World Heritage sites that span 137 countries and offer an extraordinary range of travel experiences. These sites have been internationally recognized for their outstanding value and are protected by the 1972 World Heritage Convention, signed by 180 countries and
administered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
World Heritage sites include many of the most iconic travel spots on the planet, such as the Great Barrier Reef in Australia; the Egyptian Pyramids; the Taj Mahal in India; England's Stonehenge; the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador; and 20 sites in the United States, including Yellowstone and the Statue of Liberty. But the list also encompasses scores of lesser-known places of singular importance, including Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo; the Buddhist Borobudur Temple Compounds in Central Java, Indonesia; the archaeologically rich Orkhon Valley in Mongolia; and the sub-Antarctic islands of New Zealand, home to more than 125 separate species of birds.
The World Heritage Alliance aims to:
Inspire Travelers to Explore and Experience More
New trips to World Heritage sites are currently available through Expedia. The profits from the designated World Heritage trips booked on the Expedia websites will be donated to the Friends of World Heritage -- an initiative with the UNESCO World Heritage Centre -- for investment in local community projects at World Heritage sites in need. Expedia.com is currently offering eleven trips -- accessible by visiting http://www.expedia.com/worldheritage -- to visit the following World Heritage sites:
-- Pueblo de Taos, New Mexico
-- Central City in Prague, Czech Republic
-- Taj Mahal and sites near New Delhi, India
-- Volcanoes National Park in Hawaii (Big Island)
-- Yosemite National Park by Fresno/Modesto, California
-- Great Pyramids and Nubian Monuments in Egypt
-- Chichen-Itza and Uxmal, near Merida, Mexico
-- Fortified town of Campeche, near Merida, Mexico
-- Angkor Wat in Cambodia and other Buddhist temples throughout Cambodia,
Laos, Thailand and Vietnam
-- Machu Picchu, City of Cuzco, and Historic Center of Lima, Peru
-- Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
Promote Economic Development
Expedia and the UN Foundation will donate combined resources, as well as Expedia employee time and talent to support locally-owned tourism enterprises in Sian Ka'an, Mexico, a large, natural World Heritage site on the eastern coast of the Yucatan peninsula. These tourism enterprises will contribute to local community development and help conserve the site's natural environment. Sian Ka'an is the first to benefit from the World Heritage Alliance's economic development efforts -- with other sites to follow.
Encourage Public Awareness and Involvement
Through the Friends of World Heritage initiative and website, individuals have the opportunity to learn more about and support World Heritage
conservation, sustainable tourism and local development. To encourage individual donations, Expedia and the UN Foundation will match donations, up to $50,000 from each partner, made through the Friends of World Heritage website, http://www.friendsofworldheritage.org. These resources will be directed, along with the designated World Heritage trip profits, into local economic development projects at key World Heritage sites.
Engage the Travel Industry
Together, Expedia and the UN Foundation want to engage the international travel industry to join the World Heritage Alliance. Broad industry participation is vital because new partners bring expertise, financial resources and other assets that can further the program's goals. More
information on how the travel industry can get involved with the World Heritage Alliance is now available at http://www.worldheritagealliance.org.
"With the leadership of Expedia and its travel industry partners, we can work together with the UN and local communities to make a lasting impact on World Heritage," said Timothy E. Wirth, President, UN Foundation. "Since net proceeds of trips booked through the Expedia websites will be reinvested into World Heritage, customers also have the opportunity to make a difference in the communities they visit."
About Expedia, Inc.
Expedia, Inc. is one of the world's leading travel services companies. With its portfolio of leading travel brands, Expedia, Inc. empowers business and leisure travelers with the tools and information they need to easily research, plan, book and experience travel. The company also provides wholesale travel to offline retail travel agents. Expedia, Inc.'s main businesses and brands include: Expedia.com, Hotels.com, Hotwire, Expedia Corporate Travel, TripAdvisor and Classic Vacations. Expedia, Inc.'s companies also operate internationally with sites in Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands and China, through its investment in eLong. For more information, visit http://www.expediainc.com.
About the United Nations Foundation
The UN Foundation was created in 1998 with businessman and philanthropist Ted Turner's historic $1 billion gift to support United Nations' causes. The UN Foundation promotes a more peaceful, prosperous, and just world through the support of the United Nations. Through grant-making and building new and innovative public-private partnerships, the UN Foundation acts to meet the most pressing health, humanitarian, socioeconomic, and environmental challenges of the 21st century. For more information, please visit http://www.unfoundation.org.
For more information, please visit:
-- Friends of World Heritage: http://www.friendsofworldheritage.org
-- Expedia, Inc.: http://www.expedia.com/worldheritage
-- World Heritage Alliance: http://www.worldheritagealliance.org