A picture of Stonehenge around dusk; clouds overhead are tinted red and on the left a crescent moon is visible.
Image: Simons41 (Canva), CC0.

UNESCO survey: Covid-19 impact on heritage sites could last for years

A year after the pandemic started, UNESCO launched a survey to measure the impact of Covid-19 on World Heritage Sites. Respondents think the impact may last for years to come.

Around 90% of countries closed down their World Heritage Sites during the height of the pandemic, with an average of 71% still closed by February 2021. Some effects of the lockdowns were stronger in some parts of the world than in others, but the same general trends can be observed.

The effects

The closing of the sites has impacted them in several ways. A lot of missed ticket sales are a large issue, as well as staff that has become redundant. On average, 78% of the respondents said that surrounding communities had been affected as well by the lack of tourism. Lastly, because sites were visited less they could also become more vulnerable to vandalism. However, in some cases there was also more time and space for proper research when the sites were empty.

It’s unfortunately not surprising that World Heritage Sites are experiencing these effects. Hopefully, we’ll be able to open them up again in a way that works best for them, and they’ll be able to get the help they need to stay up and running.

Source: UNESCO (you can download the full report on this site, in English and French!)

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