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Historic Centre of Sighişoara

Romania
Factors affecting the property in 2002*
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports

Proposed Dracula Park construction project

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2002
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 2002**

March 2002: joint UNESCO/ICOMOS monitoring mission

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2002

As requested by the 25th session of the Committee, a joint UNESCO-ICOMOS mission was undertaken to the site from 22 to 28 March 2002. The full report of the joint mission is contained in the Working Document WHC-02/CONF.202/INF.11. The general aim of the mission was to assess the different impacts the building of such a theme park could have on the World Heritage site and its values. The joint mission visited the World Heritage site of the Historic Centre of Sighisoara and the proposed area where the theme park (Dracula Park) is planned to be built and was able to meet in Bucharest with the Minister of Tourism - responsible for the project- and with the Minister of Culture. The mission assessed the conditions of the World Heritage site itself, including its state of conservation, legal protection of the site and its buffer zone, management and planning, including tourism planning as well as social issues. The mission noted the poor state of conservation of the fortified walls and towers of the city. A part of the city wall collapsed in the summer of 1998 and remains in a perilous state. The mission also noted that plans for the long-term protection of the wall have not been developed and discussed with international experts, as recommended at the time of inscription of the site.

The mission made recommendations with regard to the management and planning of the site, the responsibility for the management of the site, the development of cultural tourism, and for the improvement of the presentation of the site. The mission acknowledged the need for development and for the improvement of living conditions of the local communities in and around World Heritage sites.

In the assessment of the proposed theme park and construction project (in the feasibility study entitled "Dracula Park"), the mission focused mainly on the exact location and dimension of the proposed theme park, environment, archaeology, architecture and design, financial viability, phasing and timetable, impact studies, related infrastructures and expected tourism profiles. The mission highlighted the fact that no permanent construction was ever built on the Breite Plateau. With regard to the environment, the mission noted that the Breite Plateau was protected by law 5/2000 of 5 March 2000 for its natural values, in particular the oak trees. During the field visit, the mission discovered that archaeological rescue excavations were currently being undertaken.

With regard to the financial viability of the project, the mission noted the proposal to finance the conservation of the Historic Centre of Sighisorara with the profits from the theme park. This income, however, will depend on the success of the theme park, which is based on figures and forecasts for the number and type of tourists. According to these forecasts, 70-90% are expected to be Romanians from within an 80 km radius, an assumption which is seen as unrealistic considering the generally low salaries and poor living conditions and standards. Furthermore, the mission noted that the location of the park - 5 hours by car or train from Bucharest - would discourage use by foreign visitors. The mission questioned whether the type of tourist visiting the theme park would be identical to those interested in cultural tourism and the seven World Heritage sites in the region. The mission was informed of concerns raised by a part of the local population related to potential social and cultural impacts by the expected visitor numbers and types of tourism. The mission acknowledged the diversity of cultures present in Sighisoara and noted that the considerable external impact of a theme park could affect their way of life and continuing cultural traditions.

The mission was concerned that, in the event of failure of the project after Phase I, the constructions would remain unused on the Plateau. With regard to the impact studies, the mission recalled the Committee’s request for an environmental impact study and noted that this had not yet been finalized. Concerning the related infrastructures, the mission was informed of different access possibilities, including two regional airports.

The mission assessed the potential impact of the proposed project on the site and on the surrounding environment notably concerning the landscape setting, the visual and cultural impacts. It found that a rural landscape of exceptional beauty formed the setting of the World Heritage site. The mission questions therefore whether the development of such a theme park, covering an area considerably larger that the Historic City of Sighisoara, is appropriate in a rural area with continuing agricultural use.

The mission noted that the construction of the theme park would be kept below the tree line and would therefore not be visible. However, during wintertime and depending on the materials and colours used, there may be some visual impact through the trees.

 

The mission came to the following conclusions:

1.  Even if the visual impacts and noise level of the proposed theme park would be limited, the secondary impacts from an increase in the number of tourists and vehicles, as well as the negative cultural impacts, are highly significant. Furthermore, the presence of the medieval city of Sighisoara in a rural landscape setting is important for the overall integrity of the World Heritage site, which may be damaged by such a large-scale development in a recreational area and on a protected natural site adjacent to the city.

2.  The intention to fund the conservation of the World Heritage site with the profits of the Dracula Park is commendable. However, the state of conservation of the World Heritage site is critical and too important a matter to await the construction and successful operation of the theme park.

3.  Concerning the management of the site, it is noted that no management plan was available. It is strongly recommended that a World Heritage coordination team responsible for management be established and attached to the city administration to prepare an overall management plan, including management of tourism.

4.  The socio-economic situation of the city and region planned at a distance results in a number of critical social issues. These need to be taken into account in any future development in and around the city of Sighisoara. At the same time, the region has an enormous development potential with the series of World Heritage sites (Historic Centre of Sighisoara, seven fortified churches in the vicinity etc.) in particular for cultural itineraries and cultural tourism. The local and regional authorities should be strongly encouraged to review existing and new proposals involving the stakeholders concerned.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2002
26 COM 21B.67
Historic Centre of Sighişoara (Romania)
The World Heritage Committee,

1. Notes the report of the joint UNESCO-ICOMOS mission undertaken to the site;

2. Notes with great concern the poor state of conservation of the World Heritage site and the high potential negative impacts, cultural as well as environmental, of the proposed theme park project on the site;

3. Recalls paragraphs 80 to 82 of the Operational Guidelines;

4. Urges the State Party:

a) To enhance the state of conservation of the property as a matter of urgency before the Committee considers any steps towards its inclusion on the List of World Heritage in Danger; and in this regard, to seek immediately both national and international funding and to request, for the most urgent restoration works, technical co-operation assistance for the preservation and protection of the World Heritage site. The Committee recalls that funds could be made available, upon request of the State Party, from the World Heritage Fund; 

b) To establish, as a matter of urgency, a World Heritage coordination team, attached to the city administration, responsible for management, in order to prepare an overall management plan, including management of tourism, for the World Heritage site;

c) To take into account the critical social issues of the city and region in any further developments in and around the city of Sighisoara; and to take into account the existing potential development represented notably by a series of World Heritage sites in the region, in particular for cultural itineraries and cultural tourism;

5. Takes note with satisfaction of the intention of the Romanian authorities to relocate the proposed theme park, which was planned at a distance of 1.5 km from the World Heritage site;

6. Requests furthermore the State Party to avoid constructing the Park in the vicinity of World Heritage sites in Transylvania;

7. Requests the State Party to define, as soon as possible, a management plan for the site;

8. Requests the State Party to provide by 1 February 2003, a report on this matter and on the status of the project for examination at its 27th session in June/July 2003.

The Committee may wish to adopt the following decision:

 

"The Committee notes the report of the joint UNESCO-ICOMOS mission undertaken to the site. The Committee notes with great concern the poor state of conservation of the World Heritage site and the high potential negative impacts, cultural as well as environmental, of the proposed theme park project on the site. The Committee, recalling paragraphs 80 to 82 of the Operational Guidelines, urges the State Party:

1.  To enhance the state of conservation of the property as a matter of urgency before the Committee considers any steps towards its inclusion on the List of World Heritage in Danger; and in this regard, to seek immediately both national and international funding and to request, for the most urgent restoration works, technical cooperation for the preservation and protection of the World Heritage site. The Committee recalls that funds could be made available, upon request of the State Party, from the World Heritage Fund.

2.  To establish, as a matter of urgency, a World Heritage coordination team, attached to the city administration, responsible for management, in order to prepare an overall management plan, including management of tourism, for the World Heritage site.

3.  To take into account the critical social issues of the city and region in any further developments in and around the city of Sighisoara; and to take into account the existing potential development represented notably by a series of World Heritage site in the region, in particular for cultural itineraries and cultural tourism. Furthermore, the Committee, concerned by the analysis of the real benefits to be derived from the theme park for the World Heritage site, and its population, requests the Romanian Government to reconsider the proposed theme park and in particular its location – planned at a distance of 1.5 km from the World Heritage site. The Committee requests the State Party to provide a report on this matter and on the status of this project before 1 January 2003 for examination by the 27th session of the Bureau in April 2003. "

Report year: 2002
Romania
Date of Inscription: 1999
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (iii)(v)
Exports

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.


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