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Spain Finds Balance Between Heritage Protection, Development

Spain, which has 38 properties listed as world heritage, has found ways of developing its tourism while effectively conserving its heritage.

Benito Burgos Barrantes, who heads the World Heritage Protection Department of Spain's Ministry of Culture, gave an account of their experience at the 28th Session of the World Heritage Committee being held in Suzhou of east China's Jiangsu Province.

Education was crucial in promoting heritage conservation, Barrantes said. Courses on the protection of world heritage by law had been opened in both primary and high schools in Spain, which would help the public form world heritage protection awareness from the time they are young.

In addition, Spain has set up lots of schools on heritage protection and the maintenance of historical sites. It has also funded nearly 30 such schools in Latin America, said Barrantes.

Barrantes acknowledged that Spain had established a comprehensive system of protecting its heritage while meeting the needs of tourists.

The government controls tourist flow to heritage sites through ticket pre-sale systems installed in bank outlets and on the Internet, and tourists must obtain tickets through the system beforehand, he said. This would avoid exerting too much pressure on fragile heritage sites.

To cope with the needs of tourists who have not got the tickets to the real heritage sites, replicas of the heritage sites are made near the real ones. An example of this is the Altamira Cave, according to Barrantes.

Moreover, Barrantes said, the Spanish government had devised ways to arouse enterprises and non-governmental forces in heritage protection. Spanish laws and regulations stipulate that investment in the repair of heritage sites enjoys tariff cuts.

Meanwhile, activities held with authorization at the heritage sites had drawn large numbers of tourists and allowed these heritage sites to play a greater role, added Barrantes.

Noting that Spain was active in international cooperation in world heritage protection, he said his country spent around 50 million euros, probably 100 million euros this year, on international cooperation, mainly in Latin America and Africa. Spain's international cooperation covered a wide range of areas, ranging from establishing cultural relic protection schools to archaeological excavation and providing technical support.

So far, there had been no cooperation projects between Spain and China in heritage protection, he said. However, he noted possibilities exist in the fields of legal protection, management case study and tapping the value of the heritage sites in various dimensions.
(Xinhua News Agency July 7, 2004)


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