Blog WHS website

The WHS Commandments pt.2

So here’s the long-awaited follow-up to the Commandments: the set of best practices regarding visitor management that a WHS should adhere to in order to accommodate a WH traveller. I’ve tried to incorporate your comments as much as possible. There could have been 9 or 11 commandments, but I couldn’t help to steer towards 10!

The final Ten Commandments

  1. You show your OUV! You do not keep it to yourself (looking at you, people of Stoclet!). You may restrict visitor numbers when overcrowding becomes a concern, but access should be allowed via a mechanism that is open to everyone. Keep seasonal closures to a minimum and make sure the opening hours are generous.
  2. Thou shalt be ready to receive visitors after becoming a WHS Be on your best when you reach WH status. Be prepared for a surge in visitors. Offer them free entrance or another freebie in the first weeks to celebrate with you. Make sure that all maintenance, accessibility are renovation issues are resolved. Don't be like the Margravial Opera House which stayed open for only 3 months and then closed for 6 years! Or like Saudi Arabia's Turaif Quarter which continued renovations until 13 years after the inscription it finally opened.
  3. You are clear about your core zone You deliver a good quality, digital map to the WHC Bureau desk. Also, on-site, you make clear which areas of your property are protected as part of the WHS.
  4. You shall have a proper UNESCO plaque This is already a requirement in the guidelines from UNESCO. Display it proudly in a freely accessible area. Let a local artist make an interesting design. The plaque should also state in which year you reached WH status and for what reason, to educate visitors without prior knowledge about WHS.
  5. Thou shalt practice fair pricing Entrance fees should be appropriate to the value of the site and the time to be spent there. Also stay away from foreigner pricing, especially with the rapid growth of the middle class in formerly "poor" countries.
  6. You shall create and maintain an official website On the website, you show your opening hours, entrance fees, and any special visiting conditions if applicable.
  7. Thou shalt not unduly limit or charge fees for personal photography Photography for personal use should be granted and at no extra cost, except for limited cases where the use of flash could genuinely damage the OUV of light-sensitive decoration (cave art mostly), or bringing cameras cause some form of danger.
  8. You shall spend some money on proper paper tickets Provide the visitor with a ticket that can be kept as a souvenir. A pretty ticket, preferably DIN A6 or smaller, carton board, clearly stating the location and time of visit. So no more thermo prints and no generic Indian archeology tickets.
  9. Thou shall provide translations When you only allow visits via a tour, provide printed and plasticized translations of the texts in a number of languages (done via Google Translate should be good enough). So no more waiting for the only tour in language "X" of the day or having to follow around without any/much understanding. When the interpretation of your site relies heavily on information panels, provide texts at least in English in addition to your native language(s).
  10. Thou shalt not force visitors into packages or tours Always try to open up a part of a site to be explored independently (where that is feasible of course), so people do not have to wait for a tour to start, or have the stress of needing a reservation or having to be in large groups which limit the enjoyment. Consider using audio guides, or ‘stationary’ guides that explain (and keep watch on) the essential elements of a route.

This list now also has a permanent spot on the website and is accessible from the main menu via the Community dropdown.

Awarding the badge

So now the time has come to put the, from a visitor's perspective, excellent sites into the spotlight. My proposal for the follow-up process is as follows:

  • To earn THE badge, a site should comply with commandments 1-7, and score decent on 8-10 as well. A rating system 1-10 for all WHS would be too cumbersome I think, as the evaluation will be quite subjective anyway and we want to put the focus on the stellar sites. Also, many sites don’t have full data or aren’t visited that often.
  • I think you’re best qualified to propose a site for a badge if you have (recently) visited it. So you can propose only such sites. And you must be clear in your explanations. Be an advocate for the site.
  • The other community members are the judges. They can ask critical questions about the proposal. At least one supporter that has also visited the site is needed to award the badge.

Any suggestions about the process? I’ve started a trial post focusing on my proposal, Gunung Mulu.

Els - 23 July 2023

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Els Slots 24 July 2023

Actually mostly because commenters did not find it necessary: "serial sites: would be solved by a good map (#3) and a decent official website (#6) already -> propose to delete". Also, it would not be applicable anyway to most of the sites, as only a minority are serial sites.

Jay T 23 July 2023

Thanks for the updated list, Els! The only previous commandment I notice significantly by its absence would be the one regarding the serial site. Was the rationale because it may be too difficult for serial sites to comply with?