Monuments Watch worth support

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The Rebuild Dubrovnik Fund, founded by ASTA and Croatia's Atlas Travel, will shut down by year's end.

Queen Noor of Jordan addressed the ASTA congress in Los Angeles.

There is a link between these two events.

The 6-year-old Dubrovnik project raised about $400,000 and completed all its tasks but one: restoration of the Library of the Franciscan Monastery, which has been identified by the World Monuments Watch as one of the globe's 100 most endangered culturally significant sites.

The Watch will take over that project using its own resources combined with the last of the money raised by the Dubrovnik Fund. A recently unearthed temple at Petra in Jordan also was named to the list of endangered sites.

Queen Noor, whose speech was sponsored by American Express, accepted a $50,000 contribution to the Watch from the travel company. It is earmarked for protection of the Petra temple and the first century trading center where it stands.

(By the way, the queen was an impressive representative for Jordan--and we learned her first paying job in college was at a travel agency.)

It is not often we can pursue our selfish interests and be crusaders for a good cause, too. This is one of those times. The good cause, as you can guess, is the World Monuments Watch, created two years ago as part of the 33-year-old World Monuments Fund. American Express was a founding sponsor of the Watch and has pledged $5 million.

Every two years, the Watch identifies the 100 Most Endangered Sites, culturally important places in danger because of a catastrophe or because of some longer-term threat, and it works to provide urgent funding for their rescue.

It is in our interest to support the effort. Monuments that range in age from a few decades to thousands of years, monuments that are beautiful or merely evocative because of what happened in or near them, these are the kind of things that inspire many a client to leave home--and to consult an agent first.

We in the industry are not immune to the charms of these attractions, either. At ASTA, we were treated to a film highlighting Jordon's major sites, and I--having seen nothing of Jordan but Petra--hope to find time to see those places.

The address for the World Monuments Fund is 949 Park Ave., New York 10028-0307. For further information about contributing or participating in a silent auction to benefit the fund, the phone number is (800) 547-9171, and the Web site is www.world monuments.org.

I would be remiss in not appending the information that will enable readers to send checks. As soon as I am reunited with my checkbook, I will practice what I preach.

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