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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 April 2007, 09:56 GMT 10:56 UK
York eyes World Heritage site bid
York Minster
Local residents will be consulted about the World Heritage Site bid
The historic walled city of York has taken the first step towards becoming a World Heritage site.

Councillors have voted to carry out a public consultation and government assessment which could see the old city put on a shortlist of UK candidates.

Tourism managers say the accolade would boost York's international profile and help preserve its rich heritage.

Yorkshire already boasts two World Heritage Sites - Fountains Abbey near Ripon and Saltaire village in Bradford.

The council's decision to explore the pros and cons of World Heritage Site status was prompted by the Lord Mayor of York, Janet Hopton, who set up a working group.

She said: "York is so special. It represents the history of our islands from Roman times right through to the present day.

"We're under no illusions that gaining World Heritage status would be a long, difficult process, but if we don't succeed then any work that's done will not be wasted.

York has all the ingredients necessary to be successful
Gillian Cruddas, York Tourism Bureau chief executive

"It can only help us in the development of our heritage and the care we take of it."

A report by the working group said of York: "No other place on Earth combines the same series of functions over so long a period; such continuity of occupation and activity, all in such a relatively small area, such excellent above and below ground preservation, and such complete documentation."

The group considered a report from City of Edinburgh Council on the benefits and drawbacks of being awarded World Heritage Site status by Unesco.

Edinburgh has been a World Heritage site since 1995 and has enjoyed great economic and tourism success since. Edinburgh's report concluded: "There are considerable benefits of World Heritage status.

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"The hallmark of an environment of international quality provides a positive setting for the economic well-being of the city."

The York working group included Gillian Cruddas, chief executive of the York Tourism Bureau, who said: "York has all the ingredients necessary to be successful.

"World Heritage status would raise the city's profile substantially, as this is an internationally recognised accreditation.

"It would help us to preserve the heritage of the city through sustainable tourism policies.

"For visitors, World Heritage status is a mark of quality and outstanding cultural and natural heritage, and at a time when tourism trends indicate an increasing demand for travel associated with culture and heritage, the potential benefits for York are huge."

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