sustainable management of tourism. Evidence of two key concepts were assessed – the use of astrategic approach to tourism planning and the level of stakeholder participation in that planningprocess. The assumption is that sustainable tourism is a desirable goal for World Heritage Sites, thatextensive stakeholder participation will contribute to sustainable heritage tourism and strategicplanning is an appropriate framework within which sustainable heritage tourism can occur.As a foundation for the concept of sustainable heritage tourism, the next section of the paper willprovide a brief examination of the theoretical basis of sustainable tourism and the concept of culturalheritage tourism. This is followed by a discussion of the methodology used and an analysis of thefindings to indicate the planning approach at each site and the extent of stakeholder participation inthat planning process. Finally, conclusions are drawn concerning the extent that the planning modelcurrently in use at the five UK sites represents an appropriate model for the sustainable managementof heritage tourism elsewhere.
2. SUSTAINABILITY AND CULTURAL TOURISM
The concept of sustainable development
Despite widespread consensus about the general objective of sustainable development, the conceptremains contentious and definitions abound as people from a variety of fields apply it in differentcontexts. In exploring the application of sustainable development to tourism, Sharpley (2000:2) notesthe concept has been criticised for being both ambiguous and contradictory. The debate is furthercomplicated by those who argue for a flexible approach to balancing economic development andenvironmental preservation, dependent on circumstance (Hunter 1997). While there is a recognisedneed for continued growth in the Third World to equitably meet basic human needs, such acontingency approach fails to address the need for a corresponding reduction in economic growth inthe Developed World in order to achieve a sustainable global balance (Mowforth and Munt 1998).The most widely used definition was proposed in 1987 by the World Commission on Environment andDevelopment (WCED) which defined sustainable development as “. . . development that meets theneeds of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”The foundation of the WCED definition is a state of equilibrium across three interdependentsustainability dimensions – economic, environmental and social (Johnson 1993; Basiago 1999).
operationalised the sustainability concept by proposing a number of tangible strategies toachieve sustainability across the three dimensions shown in Table 1. Despite ongoing criticism,(Mowforth and Munt 1998; Agyeman and Evans 2003; Littig and Greißler 2005), the WCED definitionand
remain the prevailing conceptual influence on world economic development and theone adopted in the remainder of this paper.3