City of San Antonio Economic Development

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Councilwoman Viagran speaks at World Historical & Cultural Cities Expo on Sustainable Development of Historical and Cultural Cities, Signs Letter of Intent

SAN ANTONIO (Nov. 1, 2016) – District 3 City Councilwoman Rebecca J. Viagran attended the 2016 World Historical & Cultural Cities Expo (WHCCE) Oct. 23-26 in Nanjing, China at the invitation of the City of Nanjing. The expo included mayors, elected officials and other representatives from World Heritage cities such as Nanjing, China; Yaroslav, Russia; Malacca, Malaysia; Florence, Italy; Paris, France; and York, United Kingdom. Councilwoman Viagran presented on balancing development and preserving cultural diversity and heritage at the Forum on the Sustainable Development of Historical and Cultural Cities. Councilwoman Viagran was joined by Colleen Swain, director of the City’s World Heritage Office.

The WHCCE in Nanjing is a biennial, international cultural event that has been successfully held six times. WHCCE is a UNESCO-sponsored international, institutionalized and highly distinctive platform for the cooperation and exchange among historical and cultural cities.

“San Antonio has already gained national attention and, in many ways, has become a model for other cities seeking a World Heritage designation. Over the past week, I met with leaders from around the world and toured other World Heritage sites in an effort to find creative solutions to common challenges and explore best practices that can be applied universally,” said Councilwoman Viagran. “We must continue to protect and preserve both our tangible and intangible cultural heritage in San Antonio. The World Heritage designation presents an amazing opportunity. I will continue working toward a balance of development and preservation within our World Heritage Area that will bring long-awaited investment to the Southside while respecting the dignity and character of the neighborhoods and community.”

At the end of the Expo, Councilwoman Viagran joined other world leaders in signing the “Nanjing Declaration,” which called on cities around the world to “protect built cultural heritage in cities including monuments, sites, groups of buildings and entire urban landscapes… whether these have been inscribed as World Heritage or not.”

In addition to attending the WHCCE, Councilwoman Viagran and Swain met with the Mayor of Nanjing, signing a Letter of Intent expressing intentions for both cities to explore exchange and collaborative opportunities on the topics of heritage tourism and travel, cultural and educational exchange.

The two also visited Suzhou, China to tour the Humble Administrator’s and Master of Nets Gardens, two of the nine World Heritage-designated Classical Gardens of Suzhou, to exchange ideas and share best practices related to how these World Heritage sites operate through on-site meetings with the Vice Directors of Suzhou People’s Congress, the Suzhou Foreign Affairs Office and the Cultural and Gardening Bureau.

San Antonio has three established Friendship City relationships with Suzhou, China; Tel Aviv, Israel; and Darmstadt, Germany. Additionally, San Antonio has ten official Sister Cities relationships: Monterrey Mexico; Guadalajara, Mexico; Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain; Gwangju, South Korea; Kaohsiung, Taiwan; Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain; Kumamoto, Japan; Chennai, India; Wuxi, China and Windhoek, Namibia. For more information on San Antonio’s international relationships, visit

Photos and video from the WHCCE and Suzhou have been shared via the social media pages of Councilwoman Viagran and the City of San Antonio International Relations Office.


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This entry was posted on November 1, 2016 by in News Stories, Press Releases.

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