Tourism and its impact on conservation

Tourism is often perceived as a threat to conservation of World Heritage. In fact, tourism is a platform and a vehicle for presenting heritage to the public, conserving it and guaranteeing its economic and social viability. Hence, tourism is in most cases a balancing mechanism that keeps and protects the heritage itself.

The main premise of the TOURISM theme within the OurWorldHeritage initiative is that defining the key principles of Heritage-Tourism reciprocal relations is imperative. Both tourism and heritage sites are exposed nowadays to critical exogenic and endogenic changes. Among these challenges are the ramifications of COVID-19, and the consequent global economic and social crises. Hence, we argue that it is imperative to conceptually and practically pave a way for a major review of these interrelationships. In so doing, we hope to deconstruct old concepts and reconstruct a new collaborative paradigm based on present challenges and on constructive and complementing synergies, which will assure the continuity and resilience and sustainability of heritage and tourism alike.



Team Tourism invites students (bachelor, Master, PhD) to submit short videos to illustrate the challenges and opportunities tourism offers today for World Heritage sites!



Minja Yang, Coordinator

Minja Yang, Coordinator

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

Minja Yang is President & Professor Emeritus of Raymond Lemaire Intl Centre for Conservation of Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium (RLICC/KU Leuven) 2009-2020; after retiring from 30 years in UNHCR & UNESCO (1979-2009). She served at UNESCO as Director, Subregional Office in New Delhi; Director, Museums Unit; Deputy-Director WH Centre, simultaneously Coordinator, WH Cities; Head, Angkor Unit; Head, Emergency Unit. Her work in heritage stems from cultural identity issues of diaspora population and refugees but for over 40 years focused on capacity -building of local authorities in management of cultural diversity and urban heritage. She continues to work as coeditor of Springer book series on heritage, as consultant on cultural heritage and more recently in the contemporary art industry identifying artists inspired by intangible heritage skills and organising exhibitions in heritage sites for an international art investment company based in Seoul thus pursuing her commitment to enhancing the complementarity of the 1972, 2003 and 2005 UNESCO Conventions. She is Board member of the Association of WH Sites of France; of Association of cultural residency centres in France; Rajasthan Rural Arts Programme of Jaipur Virasat Foundation (India).

Maria Gravari Barbas, Convener

Maria Gravari Barbas, Convener

Pantheon-Sorbonne University

Maria Gravari-Barbas has a degree in Architecture and Urban Design (University of Athens, 1985) and a PhD in Geography and Planning (Paris IV – Sorbonne, 1991). She was Fellow at the Urban Program of Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA (1990). She is the Director of the EIREST, a multidisciplinary research team dedicated to tourism studies, with main focus on cultural heritage, development, and urban-tourism evolutions. From 2008 to 2017 she was the director of the Institute for Research and High Studies on Tourism (Institut de Recherches et d'Etudes Supérieures du Tourisme, IREST) of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University. Since 2009 she is the director of the UNESCO Chair of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University and the coordinator of the UNITWIN network ‘Tourism, Culture, Development’. She is the author of several books and papers related to Tourism, Culture and Heritage.

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