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Heritage and Sustainable Development: Capacity Building Through Tourism


Heritage protection becomes an ever-greater challenge due to constant and numerous threats by natural elements and the sole passage of time. This deterioration is increased by other stress circumstances such as economic, social and development pressures, climate change, war, social and religious conflicts, and a number of other factors related to heritage use.

Heritage and historical landscapes should be preserved not only because of their role as an important testimony to bygone times and the source of a spirit of place, but because heritage and culture are important factors of territorial and economic development. Moreover, tourism is one of the sectors of economy that could improve the conservation of heritage and maintenance of cultural diversity. The study will facilitate an author review to complete the picture of the cunent situation and to find gaps; a documental analysis in order to capture the main concepts, compile the risks and opportunities from selected international and European documents as well as interviews with selected heritage stakeholders and professionals in relevant fields.


Settled landscapes around the world are rich in resilient cultural elements (tangible and intangible), a sum of activities of earlier human generations. This continuous process results in an accumulation of cultural layers are expressions of a social diachronic perspective that mark the inheritance of today’s living societies.

These layers are testimonies of emotions, beliefs, traditions, behaviors, and needs created and collected through human action with the passage of time. In this context, heritage as a cultural resource, material, and immaterial, has been among the key elements of most aspects of urban and rural landscapes. Foremost, heritage includes, as detailed in the Québec declaration (UNESCO, 2008), the tangible and intangible heritage, elements that cany memory. These tangible and intangible elements bequeath places with identity and character.

History, heritage, and culture are the past, present, and future landscape builders, working in a close interaction with communities and the nature itself. Monuments, sites, and intangible heritage are inseparable from the history and their setting. It is the time and places that give a character to heritage, and increase its intrinsic values (UNESCO, 1964).

It is necessary that cultural heritage, tangible or intangible, in macro and in micro places, should be protected and conserved for the use of future generations. This simple rule ensures that the knowledge contained in heritage and its capacity to testify to the diversity and history of the planet Earth is preserved. For the present generations, the cultural heritage is a human right in its diversity, access, and use (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948).

As a testimony of human history and as a human right, the cultural value of heritage goes beyond its value as an economic asset. It is not only intrinsic but also extrinsic. As Fredheirn and Khalafor, among other authors, mention that experts have different measures for the heritage values. Economists recognize its dynamic use and the cultural professionals distinguish the heritage values when heritage is both in use (use value) and when it is not in use (the non-use value). In that case, the value is reflected in the significance concept and the criteria (ICOMOS, 2013).

It is possible to find a balance between the economic and the cultural and historical perspective and contribute to sustainability by connecting the cultural and heritage conservation management practices with the economic exploitation of heritage. Heritage is an important component in economic development, in particular through tourism and other commercial activities, notably in rural areas, depopulated places, or economically and socially deprived zones. In this context, it is a priority to highlight the role of cultural conservation in economic and territorial development and to identify adequate methodologies to implement the economic perspective within the cultural management and preventive conservation practices to mitigate against heritage damage or destruction. Otherwise, the damage or disappearance of the cultural or natural heritage is a question of impoverishment (UNESCO, 1972). Moreover, the economic development of heritage as a territorial resource could be a very stimulating tool for its protection and conservation.

In this chapter, capacity building is understood as the capacity to promote abilities and competences development to achieve concrete objectives (ICOMOS, 2013). The main objective of the text is to develop sustainability and heritage conservation through a coordinated program between stakeholders.

As a research work integrated in REMIT (Research on Economics, Management and Information Technologies) at Portucalense University, it is dedicated to the study of sustainable heritage tourism and to debate methodologies that might improve the process of building stakeholdercapacity to improve, in a formal or informal way, the sustainability of heritage tourism. The project intends to develop the following objectives:

  • a) Study and debate international charts and conventions, and the state of the art knowledge in order to create a conceptual framework based on the solid understanding of the concepts: “authenticity,” “preservation for future generations,” “heritage safeguarding,” “universal values of cultural heritage,” “heritage significance,” “integrity,” “identity,” “diversity,” “sustainability” of heritage use, “risks,” “tourism pressure”, and “tourism globalization.”
  • b) Identify risks arising from mass tourism, globalization pressures, and different uses of heritage via press and literature review and a close analysis of selected case studies.
  • c) Identify heritage stakeholders who are also involved with tourism development (such as destination management organizations in historic cities, nonprofit organizations that manage heritage sites, administrators of cultural sites, and monuments that are open to the public as tourism attractions) and who could benefit from and contribute to the process of capacity building.

After this first step, in the near future we will be able to conclude and explore the perspectives and interests of those different stakeholders, their objectives, and strategies through semistructured face-to-face interviews or, where applicable, open-ended online questionnaires, in order to understand how tourism could improve the preservation of heritage, respect the diversity, and authenticity of the diversity of cultural values. Primarily, therefore, this project will facilitate an author review to complete the picture of the cunent situation and to find gaps and areas in need of theoretical support. A documental analysis will follow in order to capture the main concepts, compile the risks and opportunities of risk mitigation from selected international and European documents as well as stakeholders and professionals in relevant field selection. The documental analysis will identify the keywords that indicate the heritage values that could be disseminated in the proposed way to contribute to its safeguarding, conservation, and protection while improving the sustainability of its use.

Specific international and European documents, charts and declarations will help to deliver the above objective, such as Resolutions of the International Symposium on the Conservation of Smaller Historic Towns, at the 4th ICOMOS General Assembly (1975), Charter for the Conservation of Historic Towns and Urban Areas (1987), The International Cultural Tourism Charter (1999), the Nara Declaration (1997), ICOMOS (2013), International Cultural Tourism Charter—Managing Tourism at Places of Heritage Significance (1999), the Xi’an Declaration (2005), Xi’an Declaration on the Conservation of the Setting of Heritage Structures, Sites and Ar eas (2005), Faro Convention (2005), Council of Europe (2005), the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas (2007), UNESCO (2008), the Charter for Interpretation and Presentation of Cultural Heritage Sites (2008), The Charter on Cultural Routes (2008), the Paris Declaration on Heritage as a Driver of Development (2011), ICOMOS (2011), and The Paris Declaration On Heritage as a Driver of Development (2011).

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