Tourism at World Heritage Sites

World Heritage Tourism

There are so many beautiful places in the world that we all would like to visit and see. Park Gaudi in Barcelona, Old City of Jerusalem, Komodo National Park in Indonesia, City of Valetta in Malta and Shark Bay in Western Australia are few parts of UNESCO’s World Heritage.

Shark Bay, Western Australia

UNESCO’s World Heritage mission is to ensure the protection of natural and cultural heritages around the world. Those amazing and breathtaking sights are on so many people’s traveling lists but it is not easy to keep the sights as they are.

Positive impacts of heritage tourism

The positive impact of heritage tourism contributes to cultural and social well-being. One of the most important part is that tourism brings to live some of the lost or declined elements of culture. Tourists are interested to see and experience the traditional culture habits (Dallen J. Timothy 2011, 157). They also bring money to the sights and old buildings such as Taj Mahal in India. Many of the old structures could be torn down with out the economic rationale that tourism brings (Dallen J. Timothy 2011, 204 ).

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Taj Mahal, India

Tourism brings a lot of visibility and awareness for heritage. People share pictures, experiences and opinions online all the time they also look for places to go and see. Social media has done this sharing and searching even easier.




Park Güell, Barcelona

Negative impacts of heritage tourism

On the contrary side the heritage tourism affects the heritage site surroundings and people in a negative way. There are many different things that might happen in such places but we wanted to point out here the most several and common ones.

The conflicts in the use of social space is a situation when many hundreds of tourists visit the same heritage site or place at the same time. Those places are often fully crowded and you  need to queue long times to get to see even a glimpse of the sight. At the weekends and high-season times the streets are so crowded it harms the local people’s everyday life. The other impact this has is that these sites are usually very full of trash that it starts to affect the nature. The tourists are not aware of their ecological impact their acts are causing.

Other thing we would like to mention is the forced displacement. It occurs while villages are moved to make way for the developing tourists sites. Many civilization centers have been forced to move from their ancestral lands to build whole new homes to a whole new areas. This impact occurs more often than we even are aware of. The people are usually threatened, even tortured to leave their previous premises. The tourists’ money are welcomed, at the same time the areas inhabitants are compelled to leave.(Timothy 2011, 156-157 )

Cinque Terre, Italy

Why is it important to protect cultural and natural heritage?

These sites are high with educational value as they are symbols of previous civilizations and their traditions. Those heritage sites have been a great way to understand the lifestyles and social structures of a certain group of people. Also one thing is to inform about the negative outcomes and events of history that are never forgotten.

Many sites are also important just because they have a great value for the eye since the sites are so compelling. The old fashioned way of building and artisanship is fading as well with the sites. The most majestic world heritage sites are pure work of art.

The sites are significant symbols of one land’s nationalism as they build patriotism and loyalty. Many autocratic governments maintain their heritage by preserving and conserving places and artifacts that best represent their ideological viewpoints. (Timothy 2011, 199)

Giant’s Causeway, Norther Ireland
The Archipelago of Revillagigedo, Mexico

What can we do to protect?

We should inform people more about the negative impacts of tourism and also the positive. Tourists should be more aware of effects of their behavior and understand why is it important to keep these heritages safe.

There are many old historical buildings that are planned to be torn down, but instead of destroying these beautiful buildings we should create new use for them for example use them as a offices.

Preservation is the act where the buildings or artifacts are maintained in the current condition. (Dallen J. Timothy 2011, 204-205) This case though it doesn’t mean that they are rebuilt in any way. These takes many hours of work before hand and also after, the planning part needs to be done well. This kind of way of protection also costs a lot of money.

The renovation on the other hand is all about making change to the built environment while maintaining some parts of it. Renovating world heritage tourism sites has also done harm to the historical integrity since it has destroyed some parts of it. In the hands of unskillful employees the some sites are suffered massive damage. (Dallen J. Timothy 2011, 214-215)

How do you feel about world heritage tourism? Do you see it as a positive or negative thing?

Until next time,

Pipsa Koivisto & Elina Salminen


Timothy, D. J. 2011. Cultural heritage and tourism. Channel View Publications


Shark Bay, URL:

Taj Mahal, URL:

Park Güell, URL:

Cinque Terre, URL:

Giant’s Causeway, URL:

The Archipelago of Revillagigedo, URL:










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