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World Heritage Week Gives Franciscan Missions A Chance To Shine

Eileen Pace

World Heritage Week began Saturday in San Antonio, and there are plenty of activities throughout the week from April 27 - May 4, including an opportunity for children to learn about the missions and earn a World Heritage Badge.

The goal is to educate the community about the benefits that will come to San Antonio if World Heritage status is awarded to the Franciscan Missions.
Susan Snow, World Heritage coordinator for San Antonio Missions Historical Park, said a recent study by Bexar County suggested the World Heritage designation would put a unique spotlight on the city.

"By 2025, after inscription in 2015, we could see an increase of over 1,000 new jobs and $105 million annual increase in our economy and about $2.5 million increase in hotel venue tax," Snow said.

Snow said many travelers seek out World Heritage sites, and the designation could result in a new kind of recognition for San Antonio.

"It allows the rest of the world to understand what we San Antonians already know about the specialness of our city and the uniqueness of South Texas culture. That it all stems from the missions first arriving here on the San Antonio River Valley," she said.

Snow said San Antonio has a good chance to receive the honor, because the missions here are the most intact and represent all facets of mission life, including the churches and infrastructure - farmlands, irrigation, indigenous quarters, workshops, lime kiln, and a quarry.

San Antonio would become the only city in Texas with a World Heritage designation.

Eileen Pace is a veteran radio and print journalist with a long history of investigative and feature reporting in San Antonio and Houston, earning more than 50 awards for investigative reporting, documentaries, long-form series, features, sports stories, outstanding anchoring and best use of sound.