The Preservation of Historical Sites

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While preserving historical landmarks is important for the sake of protecting history, it also makes sense from a financial perspective. Preserved historical sites are able to bring people together while maintaining local cultural identity, and it has the potential to increase tourism as well. An influx of income from visiting tourists can help boost local income and stimulate regional development, both of which can greatly benefit a community.

To learn more, check out the infographic below created by the New Jersey Institute of Technology’s Online Master’s in Civil Engineering program.







Infographic On The Need for Preserving Historical Sites

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Crunching the Numbers on Historical Landmarks

There are approximately 90,000 historic places on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). This number includes buildings, districts, objects, sites and structures that have been deemed important to preserve.

The United States has 75 national monuments, 55 of which are in national parks. Designated national monuments can be found in a total of 27 states.

There are also 21 World Heritage Sites located throughout the United States. In comparison, there are 34 Cultural World Heritage Sites in China and 47 in Italy.

Historical Sites Lost to War or Carelessness

Unfortunately, many historical sites have been lost to history due to a combination of neglecting preservation efforts and issues caused by human intervention.

According to the State Administration of Cultural Heritage of China, 775,000 historical sites were located in the nation as of 2011. However, 30,995 sites no longer exist because of overly aggressive developments that have taken place over the past three decades. Historic towns, tombs and parts of the Great Wall are among the sites lost to these developments.

According to UNESCO, the Syrian historical site of Palmyra is an “oasis in the Syrian Desert,” dating back to the second millennium B.C.E. and displaying architectural influences from the Greek, Persian and Roman empires. Tragically, ISIS is now in control of the city and has decimated a number of monuments, shrines and tombs within it.

And in Belize, a third-century B.C.E. Mayan pyramid at the Nohmul Complex was completely destroyed by a construction company digging for road materials in 2013.

Why Historical Preservation Makes Financial Sense

Spending $1 million on non-residential historic rehabilitation generates $111,000 in overall wealth, $79,000 in increased income and $13,000 in tax revenue.

According to a study conducted for The New Jersey Historic Trust in 1998, tourists visiting heritage tourism sites spend 78 percent more at restaurants and stay 4.7 nights longer on average.

A 2002 impact study conducted in Maryland has found that investing in historic rehabilitation led to a $260.5 million economic increase and an $86.1 million increase in wages. And in 2008, heritage tourism in Colorado generated $244 million in revenue for the state.

In Guangdong, China, the village of Zili was awarded UNESCO’s World Heritage Status in 2007. This is due to the unique cultural value of the village’s “little watchtowers,” which were built in the 19th century to protect locals from bandits. Zili only had 100,000 visitors each year before achieving this status. However, this number grew to 1.1 million annual visitors after UNESCO named Zili a World Heritage Site. While this increase in tourism is impressive, officials are currently aiming to generate $8 million in annual revenue from the village.

How Historical Preservation Can Benefit Developing Nations

Approximately 459 million international tourism arrivals to developing nations have been recorded since 2011. Tourism is often listed as either the first or second biggest export-earnings source among 20 of 48 of the world’s least developed nations. And in some developing nations, revenue from tourism can account for over 25 percent of the total gross domestic product (GDP).

Primary Case Study: Angkor Wat

Located in modern-day Cambodia, Angkor Wat is a 400-square kilometer temple complex that was the capital of a major empire between the 9th and 15th centuries. It is considered one of the most historically vital ancient cities in the entire world.

However, major fighting between North Vietnamese and Cambodian troops in and around Angkor Wat during the 70s has harmed some structures in the city. Bullet damage is common in numerous areas within Angkor Wat.

Angkor Wat became a designated World Heritage Site in 1991, which helped cause an influx of tourism. In 2014, over two million visitors came to see the site. Tourism to Angkor Wat has also brought in $59.34 million in revenue. This money has been used to restore the ancient city and to help preserve it for future generations of locals and tourists.

While the local population was 75,000 in 1992, it had increased to 110,000 by 2002. Tourism has influenced this growth within the local community of Siem Reap by revitalizing the city economically.

Preserving historic sites can help developing nations increase tourism, leading to a boost in revenue. Income provided by historical preservation efforts can then be reinvested into regional developments, which has the potential to be incredibly beneficial for local communities.