SAN ANTONIO (AP) - Texas officials applauded a United Nations committee’s decision Sunday to add the Alamo and four other Spanish Roman Catholic missions to UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites, knowing it may bring more tourists.
The UNESCO World Heritage committee added the sites, which are known as the San Antonio Missions, to the list during a meeting in Bonn, Germany.
State Rep. Joaquin Castro, a San Antonio native, said in a statement that he was “proud and grateful” to the UN cultural body.
“Not only does the World Heritage Site designation raise San Antonio’s international profile, it stands to add over a thousand jobs and more than $100 million to our city’s economy,” Castro said.
The missions were built in the 18th century in and around what is now the city of San Antonio to convert indigenous people to Catholicism and make them Spanish subjects. Disease reduced the native population, accelerating the missions’ decline.
The Alamo featured in a famous 1836 battle in which Texas settlers seized the mission from the Mexican army, but were eventually routed.
In the Battle of San Jacinto, then-victorious Texas soldiers shouted, “Remember the Alamo!”
The missions and the land around them became a national park in 1983, and all except the Alamo are still used as Catholic parishes.
Officials hope the designation of the largest collection of Spanish colonial architecture in the U.S. will boost tourism, already responsible for one in eight jobs in San Antonio.
“Now more people from around the world will come to appreciate our treasure,” said state Rep. Lloyd Doggett.
After the U.S. Department of the Interior nominated the Missions in 2014, state Senator Donna Campbell made a failed bid to prevent the Texas land office from vesting ownership over the Alamo to a foreign entity.
It drew sharp criticism from San Antonio officials worried it would hurt tourism and the UNESCO bid and it was panned both by Democrats and Campbell’s fellow Republicans.
More than a dozen other sites have also been granted world heritage status in recent days, including Singapore’s Botanical Gardens, the ancient city of Susa in Iran and France’s champagne region.
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