UNESCO is the most recognised brand in the world and listed sites experience instant benefits, according to project manager of the Mount Lofty Ranges World Heritage Bid, Stephanie Johnston.
“UNESCO recognition is the biggest branding opportunity the greater Adelaide region will ever have,” she said at a presentation to 40 stakeholders at the Bid’s southern workshop in McLaren Vale on September 15.
Ms Johnston also said UNESCO sites were the most visited in the world, attracted wealthy tourists that stay longer and a feasibility study estimated local jobs would increase by 1500 and the economy by $150 million.
Plus, the region’s agrarian landscape would continue to provide long term benefits to the food, beverage and tourism industries should the UNESCO nomination be successful.
But first, the consortium of councils (Onkaparinga, Alexandrina, Yankalilla, Adelaide Hills, Mount Barker and Barossa) in partnership with Regional Development Australia Barossa and the University of Adelaide must be inscribed on the Australian National Heritage list.
To do so it has to show qualities that are “outstanding to the nation”.
Bid proponents said the “system of colonisation” was what made the region distinctive and of universal value.
Guest speaker, historian and author, Barbara Santich, said “this part of South Australia was a model of systematic colonisation which didn’t happen anywhere else in Australia”.
“One of the things about the systematic colonisation was religious tolerance,” she said.
“It was the sheer number of churches; the sheer diversity of denominations that were here.
“In the 1890s there was a population of about 1000 and there were already 40 different churches in the area from Noarlunga down to Sellicks.
“Many are still here … a relic of heritage of systematic colonisation.”
The landscape also provides a rich food culture that inspires young farmers, according to regional ambassador Rachel McMillan.
“The World Heritage Bid builds a framework around that and gives us an ongoing strategy to support and thrive in the region,” she said.
“This is simply the biggest opportunity we have to work together as a region to increase and promote sustainable agriculture, tourism and our cultural values which we believe to be of international significance.”
Chair of the Economic Advisory Committee Marc Allgrove said it was also an opportunity to provide benefits beyond the Mount Lofty borders.
“There is a real potential in this bid for us, the state, and the country,” he said, adding that economic benefits “underpin everything we do”.
“The idea is to use UNESCO’s brand to boost provenance; our region’s specialness,” Ms Johnston said.
“So today we’re focusing on national side of our bid by asking stakeholders for their knowledge.”