Global Philadelphia Shares Insights to Boost Moravian Bethlehem’s World Heritage Ambitions

Jessica Barber
moravian bethlehem conference

The Global Philadelphia Association (GPA), a committed advocate for protecting and promoting Philadelphia’s heritage and global profile, recently engaged with a group of nearly 75 CEOs, stakeholders, and community members in Moravian Bethlehem at the 1869 Luckenbach Mill to share invaluable insights from nearly a decade of promoting Philadelphia's World Heritage City status. This historic exchange aimed to provide guidance and share resources as Moravian Bethlehem approaches the potential milestone of being named the first multinational World Heritage designation in the world after it nomination by the U.S. Department of the Interior. 

GPA has spent the past decade fostering Philadelphia’s global profile as the first UNESCO World Heritage City in the United States. Efforts have focused on working with local organizations and National Historic Landmarks committed to preservation, connecting with businesses and corporations like the Philadelphia International Airport to explain the benefits of economic stimulation for the region, and develop a stronger sense of community pride throughout the city. GPA has seen firsthand the benefits that such a designation can bring. The Philadelphia World Heritage City film, a documentary illustrating the city’s rich historical and cultural fabric, and the strategic use of the World Heritage City seal, have been key in engaging both residents and visitors.

Economic and Cultural Growth Through Heritage

Philadelphia's experiences offer a compelling case for the economic and cultural advantages of World Heritage status. The city has witnessed a surge in international visitors, with hotel revenues surpassing pre-pandemic levels. The upcoming 2026 FIFA World Cup, which will see Philadelphia as one of its host cities, is further testament to the city's growing global appeal.

During GPA’s President Zabeth Teelucksingh’s presentation to the group, she emphasized the potential that World Heritage status holds for Moravian Bethlehem. She highlighted how such a designation could enhance global awareness, promote educational and research opportunities, and boost tourism. However, the true focus was on the importance of partnership, networking, and community engagement. Technical details explaining the differences between a world heritage site and city were also discussed in detail. 

slide presentation

GPA’s experiences have shown that involving local communities and stakeholders is crucial for the success of heritage sites. By fostering strong, interconnected networks, Moravian Bethlehem can ensure that its World Heritage status brings broad-based benefits. Engaging residents and leveraging local demographics are essential strategies for building a sense of pride and ownership in the community.

Some of the attending organizations and businesses included Olympus, Heidelberg Materials, Buzzi Unicem, USA, Lehigh Valley Health Network, and PPL Utilities. 

From Industrial Past to Cultural Future

Moravian Bethlehem’s nomination for the World Heritage designation represents a transformative opportunity. Once a steel capital, Bethlehem is seeking to rebrand itself as a cultural hub as the home of Pennsylvania’s third World Heritage site. This shift not only honors the city’s historical significance but also opens new avenues for economic and social growth, benefiting both residents and visitors.

The “Moravian Church Settlements” nomination includes the Pennsylvania site as well as two sites in Herrnhut (Germany) and Gracehill (Northern Ireland, UK). This is an extension of the World Heritage Site Christiansfeld in Denmark, a Moravian Church settlement.

event photo during presentation

The presentation underscored the power of collaboration and shared knowledge in promoting World Heritage sites. GPA’s journey with Philadelphia is a testament to how strategic partnerships and community involvement can drive success. By sharing these insights, GPA hopes to assist Moravian Bethlehem and other emerging sites in their heritage promotion efforts.

Another focus of the CEO meeting was to gain support for the Taking the World Stage Capital Campaign, a $7.75 million campaign thats focusing on meeting current need and objectives for Moravian Bethlehem, in order "to welcome more visitors, tell the story of Bethlehem from its founding until today, and preserve our important historic sites in perpetuity."

B. Braun, a global leader and German medical and pharmaceutical device company, requested other local corporations follow their lead in terms of support. 

This exchange of ideas between GPA and Moravian Bethlehem’s stakeholders highlighted the importance of partnerships and community engagement in leveraging World Heritage status. By working together and learning from each other’s experiences, both sites can attract global visitors and foster local pride, ensuring that their rich cultural heritages are celebrated and preserved for future generations.

For more information on Moravian Bethlehem and its initiatives, please visit

photo of moravian bethlehem
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