Swiss UNESCO World Heritage Sites in miniature
In September, Swiss Post will be issuing special stamps depicting Switzerland's five UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Abbey Library and Abbey Precinct of St. Gall, the Benedictine Convent of St. John at Müstair (GR), Berne's Old Town, the castles of Bellinzona, and the Jungfrau-Aletsch-Bietschhorn Alpine region. Switzerland, which has been a member of UNESCO since 1949, will thus, for the first time in 160 years of postage stamps, have a set of stamps to mark these significant sites.
In 2001, the Jungfrau- Aletsch-Bietschhorn Alpine region became the latest of Switzerland's UNESCO World Heritage Sites to be listed in the international directory of protected cultural and natural properties. There are 730 of these sites throughout the world, and five of them are in Switzerland. Now, for the first time, a series of special Swiss stamps is being devoted to this subject. It is hoped that the five 90 centime stamps - one for each site - will publicize Switzerland's UNESCO World Heritage at home and abroad. The special stamps bear the official name of the World Heritage Sites in the relevant local language, along with the "UNESCO" title and, as usual, the word "Helvetia". Thus the stamps will forge links not only between Swiss residents and tourists, but also between the various parts of the country, and between Switzerland and UNESCO.What is more, these special stamps are also intended to attract wide public attention to Switzerland's commitment to UNESCO, and to the concerns of that organization. UNESCO stands for "United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization". It has 189 member states and is based in Paris. Its values are promoted in Switzerland by a committee sitting in Berne.
Wide range of offers from tourist organizations, SBB and PostBus
The publicity for Swiss World Heritage is being supported by an innovative campaign which is being run in conjunction with the regional tourist organizations. By handing over part of the illustrated border from a sheet of special stamps, visitors will gain access to the World Heritage Sites at reduced prices. There are also cut-price city tours (Berne) and a video film (Jungfrau-Aletsch-Bietschhorn).
SBB and Swiss Post's PostBus business unit are also promoting World Heritage: RailAway, the SBB leisure travel provider, is offering discount fares to all five sites from today (20% off), as well as cheap additional services (admission, etc.). In September, PostBus will be running four round trips to the World Heritage Sites (in state-of-the-art coaches, with guides and overnight stops).
The five "UNESCO World Heritage of Switzerland" stamps will be available from 9 September in the form of miniature sheets of six stamps, from all post offices and from the six philatelic salespoints. To coincide with the launch of the stamps, an illustrated tour of Switzerland's UNESCO World Heritage Sites will be appearing in booklet form. The 16-page, four-colour souvenir booklet contains brief portraits of the five World Heritage Sites in German, French, Italian, English and Romansch, accompanied by the relevant special stamp and five matching postcards (available for CHF 18 from all PostShops and philatelic salespoints from 9 September). The special stamps and the souvenir range were designed by graphic artist Beat Kehrli from the Bernese Oberland. You can order all these items right now at the Stamps shop.