Tourism at World Heritage Sites – Challenges and Opportunities
Tourism has grown at an accelerated pace over the last few decades, with more than a billion tourists now travelling to an international destination each year. One of the main motivations of tourism is mankind’s inherent curiosity and desire to explore cultural identities across the world. Natural and cultural heritage sites, including scenic landscapes and revitalized historic towns, are prized tourism assets that distinguish one destination from another.
Yet as cultural heritage attractions are unique and fragile by nature, it is fundamental that tourism authorities study how to best develop these cultural heritage sites while protecting and preserving them for the long-term. With more than 1,000 natural and cultural sites already inscribed on the World Heritage List, the current challenge for the different international organizations is to ensure that their values are safeguarded amidst a rapidly changing and globalized world.
In this respect, the Conference Tourism at World Heritage Sites: Challenges and Opportunities was held in Çeşme (Izmir), Turkey in March 2013, in conjunction with the 55th Meeting of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Commission for Europe. The conference showcased the diverse cultural, natural and historical heritage of the European region, as well as presented various case studies on successful policies for sustainable site management and best practices for cultural tourism development.