The authorities of these at-risk sites worldwide, need to quickly put in place practices that control this epidemic or these spectacular and important locations will become buried in metal ephemera, which ultimately will need expensive and potential site damaging removal remedies.
If they don’t want to ban locks completely - the environmentally best but politically most sensitive solution, then designating specific and tightly monitored “lock areas” with a corresponding “no locks” tolerance to locks placed out of the permitted zone is the best way to educate the public and control the random nature of the current situation. As with graffiti, instant removal is the proven way to stop people leaving their permanent mark on a place. Also, if locks are going to be sold at the heritage location (a rather short-sighted policy) then at the least they should have special soft metal clasps so they can be easily removed after a defined time.
Global tourism numbers are expected to increase substantially over the next decade and this month the UNESCO World Heritage Committee is meeting to inscribe more sites onto the World Heritage list, which will no doubt increase visitor numbers to those special locations. How many of these will visitors leave a memento to "lock in" their visit?
It is important for authorities in the numerous locations being locked up, to quickly begin a concerted effort to control and hopefully eventually bring an end to this latest version of that need of some people to leave their mark on the world’s most precious locations.
CEO, Our Place World Heritage
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