18 April - Theme 2017


Every year on 18 April, ICOMOS celebrates the International Day for Monuments and Sites, whose establishment was approved by the 22nd UNESCO General Conference in 1983.

In 2017, the theme is “Cultural Heritage & Sustainable Tourism”, chosen in relation to the United Nations International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development and in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals

Stonehenge World Heritage site Visitor Centre in its final stages of construction, December 2013. Designed to be “reversible” (removed from the landscape) by Australian architects Denton Corker Marshall. This is one of Europe’s most important prehistoric sites with over 2000 listed monuments in the zone. The new Visitor Centre deals with over a million visitors a year (1,359,448 in 2015/2016). Image © Sue Millar.



The 18 April program is led by the ICOMOS International Cultural Tourism Committee and the participation of the worldwide ICOMOS network. ICOMOS Committees will be encouraged to relate their 18 April activities to the International Year, and in order to reaffirm this link, we would like for the Committees to use the International Year logo, in addition to their Committee's logo, in their communication materials on 18 April. Click on the links to download the International Year logo or the horizontal International Year logo.


International Day for Monuments and Sites 2017 offers the opportunity for ICOMOS Committees across the world to celebrate the positive outcomes of a deepening partnership between sustainable tourism development and cultural heritage conservation (as well as referencing the potential negative impacts). On this day ICOMOS - through its National and International Scientific Committees - encourages local communities and individuals to consider the importance of cultural heritage to their lives, identities and communities, and to promote awareness of its diversity and vulnerability and the efforts required to protect and conserve it. This is the first time ICOMOS has invited National Committees and International Scientific Committees to share and raise awareness of innovative initiatives and current “best practice” in the field of Cultural Heritage & Sustainable Tourism with their local communities.

“Cultural Heritage & Sustainable Tourism” is an important theme in the context of conservation in the 21st century. At the outset we should remind ourselves that ICOMOS has been a leader in this field over many years producing the first ICOMOS International Cultural Tourism Charter in 1976 and the second - endorsed by the General Assembly in Mexico - in 1999. During 2017, the ICOMOS International Scientific Committee Cultural Tourism is leading a Review of the Charter and looks forward to contributions from National and International Scientific Committees in providing feedback through the meetings and events they organize to celebrate ICOMOS International Day for Monuments and Sites 2017.


The Patachitra of Pingla. In response to a project of cultural renewal and small business development by Banglanatak based in Kolkata, West Bengal, India local villagers celebrate their painting and singing traditions with a commercial outcome that has enhanced their lives. Image © Sue Millar.






The exponential growth in tourism and particularly cultural tourism has been a major influence in encouraging an ever increasing range and scope of cultural encounters both formal and informal. Cultural exchange is the currency of cultural tourism. Cultural exchange fosters peaceful coexistence and has never been more important in a world beset with insecurities. Changing perceptions of the significance of cultural heritage and cultural values for local people and visitors, sustainable tourism initiatives can empower communities and re-inforce their sense of place, their sense of self-worth and their identities. In turn, visitors return home with their own cultural heritage and cultural values benchmarked against those of others.

Tourism has developed over recent decades to become one of the leading global socio-economic sectors of our times. Culture, reflected in heritage and traditions as much as in contemporary art, languages, cuisine, music, handicrafts, museums and literature, is of immeasurable value to host communities. Culture shapes community identities, fosters respect and tolerance among people, and has become a key tourism asset, creating distinctive differences between destinations. Now many countries rank culture as a priority for sustainable tourism development.



The regenerated Arthur Head Heritage Site in Fremantle is the only reconstructed beach in Australia. Image © Agnieshka Kiera.







ICOMOS cultural heritage conservation community has been afforded new opportunities to expand its sphere of influence in shaping decisions on sustainable tourism development. From the strategic management of World Heritage sites to the protection of rights-based heritage; regeneration initiatives within the built environment to cultural festivals – calling for the conservation of historic places and spaces; recovery, reinstatement and training in heritage skills and exhibition of these skills as interpretation programs for visitors – bringing local people and tourists into direct contact with each other; sharing cultural practices in restaurants, hotels and on public transport; the development of cultural products visitors want to buy; and the immediacy of the visual image in a digital world – a tool for recording and broadcasting even in the remotest places.

Questions concerning restoration, reconstruction and reenactment have a central role in sustainable tourism and conservation decision-making in an era of post-truth and threats to authenticity. Centre stage too is the overarching question as to whether and how conservation of the built heritage, historic urban landscapes, cultural landscapes and traditional ways of life – the living heritage - should be taken to the forefront of planning for sustainable tourism. So often in selfies and home video clips, visitors are engaged in being auto-observers of their own experience. Who should pay to maintain and enhance these experiences underpinned by the specific cultural heritage of the place? Fashion design houses? Local or national governments? Or, should every visitor expect a tourist tax?




Saint Hripsime Church is a seventh century Armenian Apostolic church and is part of the World Heritage site of the cathedral and churches of Echmiatsin and the archaeological remains at Zvartnots. Image © Nuran Zorlu.








ICOMOS Committees are invited to organize activities on 18 April related to this theme, with the aim of raising awareness of its values and, in some cases, the requirements for adequate protection. Possible activities include, among others, conferences, lectures, press releases, round tables, visits to heritage properties, etc. ICOMOS Committees are encouraged to invite local communities to actively participate in this celebration.

Please inform the ICOMOS International Secretariat on planned 18 April events at the latest by 28 February 2017 so that we can publish them on the ICOMOS website and share your activities among the members of the world-wide ICOMOS family.

Please send the information to: calendrier@icomos.org using the format below (please use short sentences to enable a concise presentation and mention “18 April event – your country” in the email subject line):

Title of your event
Who? Organizers
What? Short presentation of the event
Where? Country, town, address
Official contact
Official website
Attachments: Poster / leaflet 

Click on the links to download the United Nations International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development logo or the horizontal International Year logo.

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