TripAdvisor, the world's largest on-line community of travellers, and UNESCO launched a partnership on Thursday to mobilize travellers' support to preserve natural and cultural sites inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List.

At the launch of the partnership, TripAdvisor founder and Chief Executive Officer, Stephen Kaufer, pledged to donate up to US$1.5m of support over the next two years to UNESCO's World Heritage Centre.

The donation will help the Centre handle the considerable task of monitoring the conservation of the 890 natural and cultural sites inscribed on the World Heritage List. The World Heritage Centre provides technical and administrative support for States that have ratified the 1972 World Heritage Convention, enabling them to translate its provisions into action.

"Because of TripAdvisor's excellent reach to their member community, we can, together, raise awareness of World Heritage as well as receive member feedback about sites," said Francesco Bandarin, Director of UNESCO's World Heritage Centre, Thursday. "This certainly helps us flag site issues and provides useful information on how World Heritage travellers engage with the sites and their communities. We are looking forward to partnering with TripAdvisor on this initiative."

"We're calling on the world's largest travel community to help preserve the places around the world that we all love," said Steve Kaufer, founder and CEO of TripAdvisor. "In support of UNESCO's World Heritage Centre, we will give not only dollars but also the collective wisdom and support of TripAdvisor's millions of travellers, and their trusted insights. We're eager to build global awareness about World Heritage sites, and about sustainable and responsible travel."

The two-year partnership agreement foresees that TripAdvisor will help raise awareness of World Heritage sites and their safeguarding among more than 25 million online visitors who use its websites every month to find and share travel information.

Travellers' online comments about World Heritage sites will help UNESCO keep its finger on the pulse and provide site managers and local communities with valuable feedback from visitors. The partnership marks an opportunity to bring together the world's largest online community of travellers with those communities that are custodians of World Heritage sites.

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