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Completion Chances

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Author KSTraveler
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#1 | Posted: 7 Jul 2015 14:52 
How likely is it for someone to be able to visit every World Heritage Site?

Author meltwaterfalls
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#2 | Posted: 7 Jul 2015 19:21 
I would say the chances are everso slightly above 0.

Whilst it is not physically impossible there a quite a few sites that are closed to people due to conservation (Chauvet), politics (Palmayra), private ownership (Stoclet Palace) and even gender (Mt Athos). But throw enough money and connections at the situation, plus get your timings right and it could be possible.

There may be someone out there that fits the profile we are looking for; An extensively well travelled male, with good access to Belgian high society, a career specialising in scientific research of remote islands and cave art plus they would probably have to be old enough to have visited Afghanistan while it was on stable and on the hippy trail.

Author winterkjm
Registered
#3 | Posted: 7 Jul 2015 19:43 | Edited by: winterkjm 
Also take into account the WHS in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, North Korea, and the DRC. This really does limit ones chances to complete the (ever-growing) list. In summary, there are about 30-50 WHS that are either exceptionally dangerous to visit, or exceptionally difficult to get permission to visit. The other 1000 are a piece of cake, if you have a lifetime of free time, and deep pockets. All said and done, once you accomplished the feat, the next WHC would inscribe new sites all over the world anyway! Even Els said 2015 was one of her best years, in which she picked up 9 of 24 WHS during the convention, that would be a lot of traveling just to check off the other 15!

Author elsslots
Admin
#4 | Posted: 8 Jul 2015 00:33 | Edited by: elsslots 
I also would say that the moving target is the highest hurdle in completing them all. Difficult countries can be visited in better times, most of the older travellers will have visited Syria and Yemen without a problem. I and many others have 'ticked' the Stoclet House by viewing it from the outside.

This year's is a relatively easy list of 24 to complete, I only worry about Rock Art in the Hail Region of Saudi Arabia and possibly Great Burkhan Khaldun Mountain (which may be viewed from a distance). With the increased transparency of the nominating process, it has become easier to incorporate the best TWHS in travel plans.

Iain Jackson has now 769 and Atila Ege 755 (both without 2015 additions). On the Most Travelled People website, Bill Altaffer claims to have seen 917 - which really is a lot. Those 3 are the highest ranked on the combined websites. In his profile, Iain Jackson sums it up:
"Nevertheless because new sites are inscribed every year there are now more which I have not visited than there were when I started 20 years ago."

Author Solivagant
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#5 | Posted: 8 Jul 2015 00:58 | Edited by: Solivagant 
Money and time are important - the less of the former you have the more of the latter you need! But "Psychology" is perhaps the most significant attribute and I would add that to Meltwaterfalls's "profile" above! "Completionism" is a sort of OCD and anyone who is prepared to devote so much energy to achieve "completion" either simply for their own "satisfaction" or driven by competition with others has to be obsessive.
We can argue of course as to where healthy interest in a subject teeters over into obsession - we all probably suffer a little from it. Did I really need to drive that extra 300kms just to see some relatively uninteresting site? Why really did I do it? Was it a genuine "interest" in the site or did that little demon of the "visited count" play a significant part! But imagine the guy who has spent months, $$$$$$, vast amounts of effort and even suffered much discomfort travelling around some "remote" country only to find that the 20xx WHC has added another WHS which had got missed out! What must it take to go back and pick it up?
Out of interest I have just looked at the latest "Most Travelled People" list - http://mosttraveledpeople.com/ . Like that for WHS it just keeps growing as they "invent" new "countries" - I see the number stands at 875 now. Poor Mr Vely, the ex software millionaire who started the whole thing up, now languishes in 3rd place a full 10 "countries" behind 2 others - did he not run (relatively) into "money" problems? I also noted that our "own" Jorge Sanchez lies in 6th place with 782. Interesting - a very well travelled man who has undoubtedly had some great adventures over the years but "only" lies 14th on our list. Which shows the importance of "targetting". Just doing a lot of travelling won't by itself yield all the WHS - it needs to be travelling with a very specific purpose.

Author elsslots
Admin
#6 | Posted: 8 Jul 2015 02:38 
In the light of this discussion, I think it's time to pre-publish the blog about 'Chasing 193' which I had planned for this weekend.

See:
http://www.worldheritagesite.org/blog/blog.php

Author kintante
Registered
#7 | Posted: 8 Jul 2015 03:52 
Given the time and money you can cover most sites, if you manage to overcome following obstacles:

Inaccessible sites
As there are no strict rules set, when a WHS can be counted as visited, you can tick off even a few inaccessible sites depending on your measures. As Els said, I ticked of Stoclet House simply by looking at it from the outside. I will (once I have been there) count Chauvet by visiting the core zone and the replica. Women could count Mt Athos by joining a boat tour that brings them close to the coast. What I really don't have a solution for are islands only accessible by scientists.

Sites in dangerous zones
Times will change. If you aren't already 80, chances are these zones will become save to travel again. I am positive one day I will visit Afghanistan, Syria or Iraq.

The ever growing list
This can only be handled by covering a zone completely when visiting it. You would need to visit all WHS, TWHS and even some places that are not even on the T-list. This needs an extreme amount of preparation time and time to visit a country. Probably even then you will miss some sites. The growing list becomes especially problematic if UNESCO finds a way to fight the underrepresentation of (for most of us) less accessible regions (especially Africa)


I was also surprised on mosttraveledpeople.com that the WHS count of those having travelled the whole world is relatively low. Solivagant is absolutely right, that you need to target on WHS when travelling and you better start early. Given that due to the extension of the list it's now much easier to target then it was 20 years ago, I'd rather count on a now young but very obsessed, focused and rich person to be the one to have seen them all.

Author Solivagant
Registered
#8 | Posted: 8 Jul 2015 04:16 | Edited by: Solivagant 
kintante:
What I really don't have a solution for are islands only accessible by scientists.

I think that even all (??) of those can be visited with time and money. For instance - there are occasional (expensive) tourist voyages to Henderson, Wrangel, Heard/Mcdonald and NZ Sub-Antarctic islands. Not that I plan to go on any of them!
Among other such islands I "counted"
a. Surtsey as our ship passed inside the maritime boundary of the core zone defined around the current (albeit sinking) island.
b. Gough Island as our zodiac was given permission to sail in "close" and we touched one of the stacs!! Later it didn't matter as UK added Inaccessible Island where we had actually landed together with a large maritime area which we also passed through. And we did actually see the endemic bird species of Gough on the shore

As you say - what counts as a "visit" is a personal matter - clearly it is better to actually enter the core zone and see/touch what was regarded as giving the site OUV but even seeing from outside the core zone can be enough. We circumnavigated both Surtsey and Gough so could actually have "seen" much more than someone who made a single brief landing in one place on a foggy day! In the case of Surtsey for instance would actually walking on the volcanic ash/rocks, and touching (if allowed!) the newly growing plant life (which we could see perfectly well through binoculars) have added anything to our experience/knowledge (we had done this on Heimaey just a few kms away with "new" rocks of a similar age anyway). This of course raises a whole series of philosophical questions about "why" visit anywhere in the first place!! Does it make one a better/more knowledgeable person than someone who hasn't visited a particular place but perhaps has become a great (armchair/academic) expert on it.

A couple of years ago we visited the Indian Sundarbans and were surprised, when carrying out a very detailed analysis of the UNESCO documentation, to discover that it is not possible as a tourist to visit inside the core zone (this isn't true of the Bangladeshi Sundarbans by the way) - so all those tours advertised to the Indian Sundarbans WHS are not strictly correct. OK - by a very strict definition we haven't visited it even though we have
a. seen inside the core from a distance
b. travelled and walked through land which is essentially the same and is situated inside a protected area albeit not an inscribed one
It would seem to be "obsessive" not to "count" it!

Author kintante
Registered
#9 | Posted: 8 Jul 2015 06:19 
Solivagant:
there are occasional (expensive) tourist voyages to Henderson, Wrangel, Heard/Mcdonald and NZ Sub-Antarctic islands.

that sounds like a job for my future retired self. So I'd say it IS possible to visit them all.

Just read Els' newest blog and just the list of circumstances makes it clear for me I'm not the person who will visit them all. I fulfil all requirements, except that I have a family and I don't plan to change that. So really important is that IF you want to visit all WHS you need to be a lonely wolf and like it.

Author elsslots
Admin
#10 | Posted: 8 Jul 2015 12:01 
kintante:
I fulfil all requirements, except

These are the "requirements"
·being an only child (for independence & indulgence)
·being single or divorced
·being able to design "neat" travel itineraries to optimize destinations
·having the discipline to follow through
·being a generalist who enjoys a wide range of things

I match all these, although my discipline could be improved. If I would really only go for a high WHS score, I could be a lot closer to the top 3. But I sometimes take trips covering little WHS (such as 2.5 weeks in Surinam & Guyana with 1 WHS). And I often end a travel day around 4 pm (not exactly dusk til dawn). Or spend money on a better hotel or business class upgrade (both costing money that I could use for even more travel, or earlier retirement - I do have a "secret" plan to retire from work at 50)

Author Solivagant
Registered
#11 | Posted: 8 Jul 2015 12:07 | Edited by: Solivagant 
elsslots:
·being single or divorced

But the top 4 people on the list on this site are married!! But I guess that none of them is really "Completionist" material!

elsslots:
although my discipline could be improved

= "obsession"??

Author elsslots
Admin
#12 | Posted: 8 Jul 2015 13:04 
kintante:
Solivagant: there are occasional (expensive) tourist voyages to Henderson, Wrangel, Heard/Mcdonald and NZ Sub-Antarctic islands.that sounds like a job for my future retired self. So I'd say it IS possible to visit them all.

Start saving for this trip, kintante. It encompasses both Macquarie Island & the New Zealand Sub-Antarctic sites ($6600.00 USD pp cruise only):.
http://heritage-expeditions.com/trip/macquarie-island-expedition-galapagos-southern-o cean-3-december-2015/

Author clyde
Registered
#13 | Posted: 8 Jul 2015 14:25 
I guess that it's not impossible if you're still relatively young and already well travelled. I'm 29 years old and hopefully by the end of this year I'll have visited over 300 WHS most of which I managed to visit in the last 6 years. Even though I'd be more than happy to visit my personal top 100, 500 WHS and most of the UN countries, I think that I could reasonably aim to visit them all considering that I always worked full time, never went on round the world trips and have dedicated 3 week holidays to non whs destinations more than once.

Author kintante
Registered
#14 | Posted: 8 Jul 2015 15:51 
You could be our man clyde. My (and due to your statistics also your) problem is, that living in Central Europe you easily get a fast start once you focus on the list, but then it gets much harder. I currently have 348 and aim around 370 by the end of the year. but slowly I'm running out of real hotspots where I can tick off several sites on a single (sometimes extended) weekend. only 81 of my 348 are outside Europe and if I deduct the close sites in Israel, Jordan, Egypt and Morocco my stats get even much worse. I think I'll have hotspots left for about 2 more years, but then I'll have to start investing much more time (and money) to see much less sites. Kind of the Pareto principle for heritage traveling.

Author clyde
Registered
#15 | Posted: 9 Jul 2015 02:50 | Edited by: clyde 
True. That's why I said I'll most probably settle for 500+ and my top 100 remaining list. I already saw 20 (mostly in Europe and Asia) but the rest I'm ready to invest time and money to visit even if it means less WHS ticked overall. I'm more into archaeological sites from different civilisations + outstanding natural sites than industrial and modern heritage. We'll see where this gets me in a couple of years time. Apart from that, Central Europe, Mexico, China, India, Iran, Turkey are all very rich in whs and are all interesting destinations for 3-4 week destinations (visiting more than once). I'd guess the 700+ mark is when things get complicated. Our leaders have been "stuck" between 650 and 750 for years now! But it would be a great achievement personally to cross that bridge shouldnI ever get to it :)

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