No doubt all Forum members will have seen press blurbs about the much vaunted new partnership between UNESCO and TripAdvisor and the initiative to gather reviews of WHS. TripAdvisor will give "up to" (!!) US$1.5 million in support of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre and its objectives in return for the marketing "kudos" it will obtain by being linked to such an illustrious and iconic brand. Whilst the Tripadvisor site has always contained reviews of WHS along with every other sort of "tourist attraction" it appears that this aspect will receive greater prominence - presumably as part of TripAdvisor's attempt to gain brownie points in the green/eco tourist market and the moral high ground as travellers' carbon footprints receive critical comment . To get a feel of what these new intiatives might mean on the TripAdvisor site I went there to find out!
I started with a query on "World Heritage Sites". This wasn't very productive as the response commenced "Did you mean World Heritage Suites
". Indeed a large number of the subsequent "hits" seemed to relate to hotels at/near World Heritage sites! A typical e.g :-
"Review: Tharaburi Resort, Sukhothai
The only choice in Sukhothai March 25, 2008 Peech, Hong Kong ... while I toured the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. I think this really is the only game in town if you are looking for something relatively nice. I booked a Grand Deluxe Room ..."
I then repeated the search just entering "World Heritage". The first "hit" was "Haast World Heritage Hotel, South Island, New Zealand. Reviews of Haast World Heritage Hotel"
!!! The next one was for the "Villa des Pitons World Heritage site"
- that's right! And indeed this also turned out to be a hotel rather than, as its name suggested, a WHS - for the details seehttp://www.tripadvisor.com/VacationRentalReview-g147345-d1452805-Villa_des_pitons_wor ld_heritage_site-Soufriere_St_Lucia.html
I next set the "refine search" feature to "limit" the responses to "Reviews". A few more genuine reviews of the actual sites this time but that Haast Hotel still comes out "on top"!
Limiting it to "Attractions" returned just 11 hits including the "Richard I. Bong World War II Heritage Center" in Superior, Wisconsin and "Heritage World" - in Dungannon Northern Ireland! Neither of which of course have anything to do with UNESCO world Heritage.
It looks as if TripAdvisor is going to have problems escaping from its "Hotel Review" origins The site does after all badge itself on the web as "Unbiased hotel reviews, photos and travel advice for hotels and vacations - Compare prices with just one click"! We WHS enthusiasts are sure to find some useful knowledge inside its enormous data base but it doesn't yield such information easily. Don't give up on www.worldheritagesite.org
just yet Els!!!
It will be interesting to see what sort of reviews/information get put on Tripadvisor as a result of this intitiative - I personally have always preferred http://www.virtualtourist.com/
as a source of travel information. TripAdvisor has always reminded me of that crass book "1000 places to see before you die" which could be alternatively titled "1000 de luxe hotels to stay in before you die"!
To be fair -if you do search on some specific WHS e.g Skellig Michael http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g186610-d618321-Reviews-Skellig_Michael- County_Kerry.html
you will find it tagged as a WHS and some reasonable reviews. Look for a less obvious one however and you are back to the hotels and no identification that it is a WHS - e.g Djemilahttp://www.tripadvisor.com/Search?q=Djemila&sub-search.x=14&sub-search.y=8
Don't even bother with Gough Island unless you want a bit of amusement looking at its "hotel deals" or for "cheap air fares" to it !!
Any other views/opinions about this tie up and the TripAdvisor site?