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UNESCO World Heritage and Tourism


De Ascaniis S.

Course director

Ruoss E.

Course director


Objectives of the course are to know the context of tourism at World Heritage Sites (WHS), to be aware of the need of balancing conservation and development, to understand why tourism at WHS can be both an opportunity and a threat and what might be its impact on the sites and on local communities. Several instruments related to UNESCO recognition will be presented, among which the Culture Conventions, the World Heritage Convention and its Operational Guidelines for nomination, implementation and assessing sites, based on their Outstanding Universal Value as well as their Integrity and Authenticity. The perspective of governance and management will also be taken, to investigate how new governance strategies and management approaches can help fostering sustainable tourism and better combining tourism development with conservation needs. The types of tangible and intangible WH and their significance for visitors and local people will be discussed, as well as the methods for their interpretation and communication and the role of Information Technologies. The different issues will be explored using concrete examples of World Heritage, comprising also WHS in danger, in order to learn about actual problems, controversies, success, conflicts and solutions.    

The evaluation complements the course, challenging students in the analysis of a case of their choice. They will be asked to select a case of a tangible or intangible WHS, to recognize its outstanding universal value and to elaborate stories to present it to tourists. The exam will consist of two parts: an individual 3 minutes elevator pitch in class (40%), and a written 2 pages essay (60%).