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Promoting local businesses in Mexican World Heritage Cities

An online platform connects and supports small- and medium-sized enterprises located in World Heritage Cities in Mexico, promoting national tourism and increasing local businesses' digital presence.

World Heritage Cities in Mexico

Mexico, located in the southern end of North America, contains many historic sites and cities, including 35 World Heritage sites. Several of these are World Heritage Cities, which together have created the Mexican World Heritage Cities Association. The association comprises cities which are part of the following World Heritage sites:

Historic Monuments Zone of Querétaro © Ko Hon Chiu Vincent

Historic Monuments Zone of Querétaro
© Ko Hon Chiu Vincent

Historic Centre of Oaxaca and Archaeological Site of Monte Albán (Mexico) © Ko Hon Chiu Vincent

Historic Centre of Oaxaca and Archaeological Site of Monte Albán (Mexico) © Ko Hon Chiu Vincent

Promoting local businesses in World Heritage Cities 

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent reduction in tourism arrivals, the Mexican World Heritage Cities Association has developed an online platform to support local businesses at Mexican World Heritage Cities. The platform aims to join forces to support Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the tourism and cultural sectors, promote local and national tourism, and increase local SMEs' digital presence.

The Mexican World Heritage Cities Association (MWHCA) developed the platform between April and July 2020, at the cost of 5,000 €. MWHCA worked in collaboration with federal and local authorities in the development of the website: on the one hand, municipal tourism departments served as a point of contact for interested SMEs; while on the other hand, federal institutions, such as the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Economy helped to promote and diffuse the platform. The initiative counts with the support of the UNESCO representative in Mexico.

The platform is accessible on https://redreactivacionciudadespatrimonio.mx/. The website includes interactive maps with local businesses' descriptions, contact details and photos, as well as discount and loyalty programmes. As of March 2021, the platform includes over 320 SMEs from the World Heritage Cities of Campeche, Mexico City, Durango, Guanajuato, Morelia, Oaxaca, Puebla, Queretaro, San Luis Potosí, San Miguel de Allende, Tlacotalpan, Xochimilco and Zacatecas, and the website has received over 50,000 visits.

The programme has faced several challenges. Firstly, reaching out to local SMEs turned out to be difficult, primarily due to digital gaps. In order to overcome this challenge, the platform relied on local chambers of commerce and business associations, which were instrumental in the promotion of the platform amongst local companies. Secondly, the programme was not as successful as expected in including artisans from marginalised and indigenous communities, even though this was one of the programme's goals.

The SMEs web platform developed by the Mexican World Heritage Cities Association focuses on supporting the livelihoods of the residents of World Heritage cities. It is based on the understanding that World Heritage sites and their values cannot be separated from the communities that inhabit them, and efforts must be taken to ensure that World Heritage cities remain functional, living entities. At the same time, the initiative exemplifies the potential of cooperation and cultural heritage to promote sustainable local development.

© Mexican World Heritage Cities Association

Source: Jorge Ortega González, General Director, Mexican World Heritage Cities Association, 2021.

Contribution towards the implementation of the 2011 Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape

The Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape recommends establishing partnerships and local management frameworks for conservation and development, as well as coordination mechanisms between different actors, both public and private.

In this context, the initiative could contribute to the implementation of the Historic Urban Landscape approach by strengthening local partnerships between local businesses, municipalities, federal agencies and heritage organisations, with the goal to support the livelihoods of local residents. 

Historic Urban Landscape Tools

Financial tools

Contribution towards Sustainable Development

If fully implemented in accordance with the described plans, the initiative could contribute towards Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Goal 8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.

  • Target 8.3: the initiative aims to support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the growth of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises.
  • Target 8.9: the initiative aims to promote sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products.

Note: the described potential impacts of the projects are only indicative and based on submitted and available information. UNESCO does not endorse the specific initiatives nor ratifies their positive impact.

To learn more

Jorge Ortega González, General Director, Mexican World Heritage Cities Association

© UNESCO, 2021. Project team: Jyoti Hosagrahar, Alba Zamarbide, Carlota Marijuán Rodríguez, with the collaboration of Jorge Ortega González. 
Cover image: © Josué Reyes Hernández

Note: The cases shared in this platform address heritage protection practices in World Heritage sites and beyond. Items being showcased in this website do not entail any type of recognition or inclusion in the World Heritage list or any of its thematic programmes. The practices shared are not assessed in any way by the World Heritage Centre or presented here as model practices nor do they represent complete solutions to heritage management problems. The views expressed by experts and site managers are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the World Heritage Centre. The practices and views shared here are included as a way to provide insights and expand the dialogue on heritage conservation with a view to further urban heritage management practice in general.