World heritage: issues and debates

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In over thirty years of its existence, World Heritage has proven to be very popular. It attracted the attention of not only the heritage professionals, but also of tourists, the tourism industry and scholars. It seems that as World Heritage was becoming popular among tourists, it was also gaining momentum in scholarly research. Based on an interdisciplinary study undertaken on a global level, this paper explores the issues and debates surrounding World Heritage and its future as seen by heritage professionals rather than the local population, governmental bodies, tourists or the tourism industry. In seeking to include the voices that are often left unheard in scholarly research, this study had a sample of 180 heritage professionals based in 45 countries, all of which were States Parties, signatories to the World Heritage Convention. Each of the 45 countries was represented by a chairman or a highly ranked representative from the IUCN and the ICOMOS, a World Heritage Site manager and a Cultural Attaché. An analysis of their responses to an on-line questionnaire and of the information from semi-structured interviews is presented in this paper. It reveals that among all the existing issues and debates such as the question of the (un)equal representation by geographical region and category and the question of indefinite expansion of the World Heritage List, heritage professionals were also concerned with the phenomenon of the evident growth in popularity of World Heritage among tourists and the issues related to balancing conservation and tourism at existing World Heritage Sites.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-219
Number of pages11
JournalTourism: an international interdisciplinary journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007


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