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MNH Chairs International Heritage Conference 29 September 2003

The Director of Manx National Heritage, Stephen Harrison, returned this week from chairing an international conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia.

The conference, entitled "The Best in Heritage", presented international prize winning heritage projects from around the world, involving twenty two countries.

Stephen Harrison said:

The invitation to act as chairman for the conference was a great accolade for the Isle of Man and indicates the level of international interest which has been created by the work of Manx National Heritage in promoting the rich Manx cultural heritage internationally.

The conference provides a meeting place for all those who have won their own country's national competition for excellence in the field of heritage development and is increasingly seen as one of the world's most important international conferences in the subject.

Over 150 delegates attending the conference came from as far south as New Zealand, as far north as Iceland, from Siberia in the east and from Ireland and the Isle of Man in the west.

The conference is supported by UNESCO and a number of other international organisations.

The setting of Dubrovnik was chosen as a symbol of the enduring values of heritage in a changing world. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Dubrovnik suffered terrible damage from shelling during the Croatian war of the 1990s, but has been beautifully restored to its former glory as one of the most complete walled medieval cities.

Mr Harrison commented:

Many delegates to the conference made the point that the heritage of a community provides not only buildings and objects to treasure, but also a very powerful part of the international image of most successful countries in the modern world. Heritage and culture is seen as a major influence in developing social, economic and tourism policies which celebrate the identity of a country and use that distinctiveness and pride to attract interested visitors from around the world. A number of people commented that the Isle of Man's strategy for co-ordinating the management and promotion of its heritage was a model to be followed in Europe.

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