World Heritage as Tourism Destination Drivers

Lise Lyck

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The idea of world heritage in our times originates back to 1954 when The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) started a campaign to preserve a valley with treasures from old Egypt where the Egypt government planned to build the Aswan Dam. The campaign was successful and was followed by other similar campaigns to protect world heritages around the world. At the UN conference on Human Environment 1972 The World Heritage Convention was accepted. For many years protection was the one and only goal in respect to world heritage sites. However, over time world heritage sites have achieved a position as tourism destinations as many visitors have wanted to experience the unique world heritages by travelling to the world heritage sites to enjoy the uniqueness by own eyes. It has changed the UNESCO policy in relation to world heritages sites to not only include protection but also sustainable tourism, as formulated in the convention of 2012. World heritage is defined as a universal heritage from the past that is found important to pass on into the future. It can either be of cultural or natural character. It shall have a unique value and be considered as irreplaceable sources of inspiration for mankind. In 2014, the world heritage list includes about 1000 items in form of cultural and natural heritages sites. They are placed in 150 countries and three quarter of the world heritage sites are cultural sites. More than half of the cultural heritage sites are located in Europe and so are also a quarter of the natural world heritage sites. 190 states i.e. almost all states in the world have ratified The World Heritage Convention and in many states world heritage sites have a role in the national tourism policy. This article investigates the role of the world heritage sites in the EU as destinations and drivers of tourism in the EU countries’ tourism policy. The analysis is mainly a macro analysis made by alying strategy theory. It is the first study of this kind. It is found that that using world heritage sites pull factors for tourism destination development differ in the national tourism policy in the EU-countries. Some EU-countries make extensive use of world heritage sites and experience a growth in their tourism while other EU-countries make no or little use of world heritage sites in their tourism and experience difficulties in their tourism development. The tourism development in the single EU-counties is analyzed, characterized and presented in relation to the way world heritage sites are included in their tourism policy. Also, some of the corporations offering world heritage tourism are presented. Finally, the role of the world heritage in EU tourism at a supranational level as well as at a micro-level is presented stressing the need for development of relevant strategic tourism research.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTourism and Leisure : Current Issues and Perspectives of Development. A Festschrift in Honor of Prof. Dr. Peter Keller
EditorsHarald Pechlaner, Egon Semaral
Number of pages20
Place of PublicationWiesbaden
Publication date2015
ISBN (Print)9783658066598
ISBN (Electronic)9783658066604
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Published online 03 Jul 2014

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