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Communicating Heritage in Tourism


De Ascaniis S.

Course director

Ruoss E.

Course director


Heritage is something acquired by our predecessors; it is the legacy of our past that is transmitted to future generations. That is why the knowledge of heritage is the knowledge of the past, which sheds light on the present, and helps us to understand people's identity and culture. Meeting foreign cultures is one of the main drivers of tourism, but their understanding strongly depends on how such cultures and their respective heritage is communicated and received. 

The course pursues two main goals. On the one side, it aims at presenting the characteristics of tourism at heritage sites, raising awareness on the need of managing tourism and balancing heritage conservation and development. The perspective of governance and management is taken, to investigate how new governance strategies and management approaches can help fostering sustainable tourism and better combining tourism development with conservation needs. On the other side, the course aims at discussing issues related to the communication of heritage - such as cultural localization and heritage-interpretation -  and at providing some tools to design effective communication interventions, such as story-telling techniques and the use of digital media. Adopting such a communication perspective on heritage and tourism means recognizing that the tourist takes an active part in the process of heritage understanding; thus, techniques to assess the effectiveness of communication interventions are also presented. 

A specific attention is devoted to UNESCO World Heritage Sites (WHS), presenting several instruments related to UNESCO recognition, 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 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. 


To know the characteristics of tourism at heritage sites, in particular at those inscribed in the UNESCO lists.  

To know how to recognize and communicate the oustanding universal value of heritage sites to visitors, especially to foreigners. 

To be aware of the challenges of managing tourism at heritage sites while developing and preserving them. 

To understand the different affordances of the “sustainability” concept when it comes to tourism. 

Teaching mode

In presence

Learning methods

In presence. Classes combine lectures with hands-on exercises, group works and visits to heritage sites. 

Examination information

The evaluation complements the course, challenging students in the analysis of heritage cases according to the knowledge gained during classes. The final note is calculated considering three activities:

  • group works (partially) elaborated in class and presented during the course (30%);
  • an individual 3-minutes elevator pitch, where each student has to select a case of tangible or intangible WH, recognize its outstanding universal value and elaborate a story to present it to tourists (40%);
  • a written test on the main topics covered in the course (30%)
  • All three tests must be sufficient (i.e. score at least = 6) to calculate the final grade for the course.