This past Saturday nine years of work to have San Antonio’s five Spanish colonial missions inscribed as a World Heritage site culminated with the inscription ceremony at Mission San José.

Built in the early 18th century, the missions are the most complete and intact example of the Spanish crown’s effort to colonize, evangelize and defend the northern frontier of New Spain at a time where they controlled the largest empire in the world.The missions were approved as a World Heritage site by the United Nations educational, scientific and cultural organization (UNESCO) on July 5 in Bonn, Germany. The San Antonio community has been celebrating ever since.

On Saturday October 17th, dignitaries from around the world plus hundreds of San Antonians gathered at the historic site to celebrate the official world heritage designation.U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell represented the United States Government. Spanish Consul General Enric Panés and Mexican Consul General José Antonio Larios participated in the ceremony representing their respective home countries. San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor and Bexar county judge Nelson Wolff led San Antonio officials and Alamo director Becky Dinnin spoke on behalf of the State of Texas.

As part of the official world heritage celebrations, the City’s Office of Historic Preservation offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to view the “restored” facade of Mission Concepcion. Over 1,200 people attend the “restored by light” event on Friday and got the chance to view the original painted facade of the mission using a digital projection. I’d also like to thank Councilwoman Viagran for helping us celebrate at the event.

Joining an elite list with just 22 existing U.S. landmarks, San Antonio’s five missions are taking their place among other cultural institutions like the Statue of Liberty and Independence Hall as well as world wonders like the Great Wall of China and the Giza Pyramid of Egypt.

Major Economic Impact

A UNESCO designation is a catalyst for socio-economic change, with increased visitation and tourist spending. According to the U.S. travel association, $928 billion was generated by domestic and international travelers in 2014, placing tourism as one of our nation’s largest economic generators and spurring an additional $1.2 trillion in other industries.

for San Antonio, the impact will be even more significant, as tourism is one of the city’s top five industries, providing one in eight jobs and more than $12 billion annually. By 2025, the world heritage site economic impact on San Antonio and Bexar County is expected to generate an additional $44 million -$105 million in economic activity, with over 1,100 newly created jobs.

Our thanks to the many people who made this designation a reality for the San Antonio community

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