10 US-ICOMOS International Symposium Balancing Culture, Conservation and Economic Development: Heritage Tourism in and around the Pacific

Rim 18-21 April 2007 in San Francisco, California


School of Architecture and Built Environment, The University of Newcastle, University Drive, Callaghan NSW 2308, Australia.

A reality of World Heritage listing for many sites is an increased pressure to form the basis of economic growth through tourism. This comes with associated issues of site degradation and loss of connection between local communities and their heritage. However, recent developments in the

World Heritage nomination and reporting process indicate a growing awareness of the need to better balance environmental conservation with sustainable economic and social development. The issue of sustainable tourism is of particular concern to complex cultural heritage sites where significance is linked to intangible cultural heritage as much as it is to the tangible built heritage. In order to better understand the sustainability challenges facing complex heritage sites, this paper reports on the extent to which five heritage management plans address the issue of sustainable tourism. Literature drawn from the fields of strategic planning and tourism management describes two key themes impacting on sustainable practice – a strategic orientation and stakeholder participation. Content analysis is then used to determine the extent to which these principles have been integrated into the tourism management process at five World Heritage sites. The five sites are amongst the few on the World Heritage list that currently have comprehensive management plans in place. With the new UNESCO administrative and reporting requirements, these are likely to act as the model for management plans at other sites. It is therefore an opportune time to examine the extent to which they represent an appropriate model for the sustainable management of sites of heritage significance.

Key words: cultural tourism, heritage management, sustainable development, sustainable tourism



There has been growing interest in the impact of tourism activity on World Heritage sites over the past 20 years. The pressure of increasing tourist numbers is compounded by the principle at the core of the World Heritage Convention, that World Heritage sites belong to everyone and that they should be preserved for future generations (UNESCO 1972). So, if the significance that allowed a site to gain World Heritage Listing is to be maintained, and World Heritage sites are to remain accessible to current and future generations in the face of continued tourism growth, managing tourism activity in a sustainable manner is a critical issue.

However, the concept of sustainable heritage tourism is not without its problems. Most models of sustainable development require a holistic approach to the decision-making process that balances the economic, environmental and social dimensions of development over time (Johnson 1993). Economic sustainability therefore implies a system of production that satisfies present levels of consumption without compromising future needs. Environmental sustainability requires resources be harvested no faster that they can be regenerated and wastes be emitted no faster that they can be assimilated by the environment. Social sustainability assumes economic growth constrained by the requirements of social equity (Basiago 1999). The complexity of achieving a balance across these three dimensions is manifest. What trade-offs are acceptable and to whom, what criteria are to be measured and how can they be measured in a practical and comparable manner for the purposes of decision-making. Any failure to recognise the contextual, contested and socially constructed nature of the sustainable development balancing process will only serve to highlight existing inequalities (Rydin et al. 2003) and further separate sections of a community from their heritage.

Most models of sustainable development also include multiple stakeholder participation and, in particular, community participation as a cornerstone of the development process. For most World Heritage Sites however, defining ‘the community’ is exceptionally problematic (Richards and Hall 1998). Is it to be defined on economic, social, spatial or temporal terms and how is the community to participate equitably in the sustainable development decision-making process? For some the proposition of truly extensive and equitable community participation in any sustainable development process is an idealistic concept with little chance of effective implementation (Getz and Jamel 1994; Aas et al. 2005). Yet failure to adequately reconcile the full range of opinions present in any community is likely to exclude many from the potential benefits of tourism and reduce the effectiveness of sustainable tourism initiatives (Simpson 2001).

In the light of recent recognition of the need to manage tourism at World Heritage sites sustainably (Garrod and Fyall 2000; Pedersen 2002), it might be expected to feature significantly in site management plans. The remainder of this paper will test the validity of this expectation. This study analysed the management plans of five UK World Heritage Sites to identify their approach to the


sustainable management of tourism. Evidence of two key concepts were assessed – the use of a strategic approach to tourism planning and the level of stakeholder participation in that planning process. The assumption is that sustainable tourism is a desirable goal for World Heritage Sites, that extensive stakeholder participation will contribute to sustainable heritage tourism and strategic planning 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 will provide a brief examination of the theoretical basis of sustainable tourism and the concept of cultural heritage tourism. This is followed by a discussion of the methodology used and an analysis of the findings to indicate the planning approach at each site and the extent of stakeholder participation in that planning process. Finally, conclusions are drawn concerning the extent that the planning model currently in use at the five UK sites represents an appropriate model for the sustainable management of heritage tourism elsewhere.



The concept of sustainable development Despite widespread consensus about the general objective of sustainable development, the concept remains contentious and definitions abound as people from a variety of fields apply it in different contexts. In exploring the application of sustainable development to tourism, Sharpley (2000:2) notes the concept has been criticised for being both ambiguous and contradictory. The debate is further complicated by those who argue for a flexible approach to balancing economic development and environmental preservation, dependent on circumstance (Hunter 1997). While there is a recognised need for continued growth in the Third World to equitably meet basic human needs, such a contingency approach fails to address the need for a corresponding reduction in economic growth in the 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 and Development (WCED) which defined sustainable development as “. . . development that meets the needs 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 interdependent sustainability dimensions – economic, environmental and social (Johnson 1993; Basiago 1999). Agenda 21 operationalised the sustainability concept by proposing a number of tangible strategies to achieve 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 definition and Agenda 21 remain the prevailing conceptual influence on world economic development and the one adopted in the remainder of this paper.


Having accepted that the fundamental objective of sustainable development is a valid and desirable one, the primary concern is to now consider what processes might contribute to the sustainable management of tourist activity at heritage sites. Sharpley (2000) identifies three principles for sustainable tourism development that provide a useful framework for consideration. These are any form of sustainable development should be underpinned by a holistic planning framework, a long-term focus, and equitable access to the benefits of development. Simpson (2001) refined these principles further as the active participation of stakeholders and the use of a strategic planning framework.

Sustainability and stakeholder participation As an idealistic concept, the meaningful engagement of multiple stakeholder groups throughout the decision-making process is widely accepted as pivotal in achieving a collective sense of responsibility for the sustainable development of any resource. However, significant problems lie with both the identification of legitimate and representative stakeholders (Richards and Hall 2000), and their active and equitable engagement in the decision-making process (Jamal and Getz, 1995; Ass et al. 2005).

With infrastructure and social equity issues most problematic in the growing cities of the world it is not surprising that a number of sustainable development paradigms that support local community participation have emerged from the field of urban and regional planning (Basiago 1998; Timothy 1998). Included amongst these paradigms is the concept of collaborative planning where the involvement of all stakeholders in the decision-making process is recognised to provide benefits that could not otherwise be realised by stakeholders acting independently. The concept is well supported in the management literature (Huxham and Vangen 2000; Wilson and Boyle 2006) and increasingly in the tourism literature (Jamal and Getz 1995; Sharpley 2000; Simpson 2001; Ass et al. 2005).

Sustainability and strategic planning While the premise that sustainability requires the reconciliation of a variety of viewpoints is well supported, there is also strong support for the use of a formal planning process that recognises a circular model of cause and effect beyond the immediate activities of an organisation (Timothy 1998; Simpson 2001). One of the primary criticisms levelled at tourism is the lack of a holistic approach to its role in broader economic, environmental and social systems (Hunter 1997; Welford et al. 1999; Sharpley 2000; Milne and Ateljevic 2001; Teo 2002). Strategic planning is suggested as a framework that not only adopts a holistic perspective but one that is future oriented and stakeholder engaging. The strategic planning concept is a foundation of conventional management theory (Mintzberg 1994; Johnson and Scholes 1999; Viljoen and Dann 2000) and in general use amongst many tourism organisations (Athiyaman and Robertson 1995; Phillips and Moutinho 2000). Strategic planning also embodies the criteria necessary for sustainable development and is suggested here as an appropriate planning framework for sustainable heritage management.


The practicalities of stakeholder participation and strategic planning Though sustainable development, stakeholder participation and strategic planning are all wellestablished concepts in the literature they may be of more theoretical than practical value. In a review of the principal literature Simpson (2001) notes that, despite the general acceptance of collaboration theory, specific examples of community involvement in the planning process are rare. Where it does occur, input is generally restricted to consultation in relation to strategies developed by formal planning bodies, rather than active participation in strategy development.

There are also a number of problems associated with the strategic planning process that also need to be considered. Key amongst these is that the existence of a formal planning process does not guarantee a balance across the three sustainable development domains. As long as environmental and economic objectives are more quantifiable than social objectives and there are political imbalances in the decision-making process, there will be problems with the equal treatment if the three dimensions proposed in Agenda 21. For many, if sustainable tourism is to become more reality than rhetoric, the fundamental structure and economic premise of the tourism industry needs to change.

The concept of cultural tourism Though the practicality of sustainable tourism development remains in doubt, it is argued that the theoretical concept has sufficient merit to justify continued effort towards its effective realisation. It is also argued that the meaningful engagement of multiple stakeholders, undertaken within a strategically oriented planning process, offers an appropriate framework within which to test that realisation. A model for sustainable cultural tourism development incorporating these processes is shown in Figure 1.

Understanding what motivates stakeholders is an integral part of the sustainable development process. In terms of tourists, Urry (1990) best synthesised the economic and cultural literature into the tourism lexicon when he highlighted the trend away from supply-led mass tourism toward more flexible and customised demand-led tourism. Distinct market segments or niches were emerging where only mass tourism existed before. Ioannides and Debbage (1998) contend the result is a complex tension between demand on the part of the tourist for individual-tailored experiences, and supply of those experiences within a capitalistic context that acts to homogenise and commodify the same experience.

One of the more obvious segments of the tourism market is heritage tourism noted by Pedersen (2002:24) as embracing “. . . both eco-tourism and cultural tourism, with an emphasis on conservation and cultural heritage.” Cultural tourism, as a significant sub-segment of heritage tourism, is further identified as an activity that utilises the tangible and intangible cultural heritage assets of a community or nation for tourist consumption (McKercher and du Cros, 2002). This definition reflects the significant international debate that has seen the scope of cultural heritage evolve from the


monuments, groups of buildings and sites set out in the World Heritage Convention (UNESCO 1972), to now include both tangible and intangible heritage. Intangible heritage is described as “. . . the practices, representations, expressions, as well as the knowledge and skills, which communities, groups and [. . .] individuals recognise as part of their cultural heritage” (UNESCO 2003: Article 2.2). While the impact of tourism on tangible heritage can be devastating, the impact on intangible heritage is far more difficult to identify and manage for the reasons outlined below.

The cultural tourist and the tourism experience Keeping in mind the developing concept of cultural tourism, there is a growing body of literature that seeks to define tourist characteristics and motivations (Mowforth and Munt 1998). A number of studies have found that heritage site managers in particular need to improve their understanding of visitor behaviour, primarily in response to increasing visitor demands and commercial pressure (Beeho and Prentice 1997; Garrod and Fyall 2000; Watson and McCracken 2002; Malcolm-Davies 2004). More recent conceptualisations, such as McKercher and Du Cros’s (2002) differentiation based on the importance of cultural tourism in the decision to visit a site and the depth of the experience being sought, indicate a developing insight into the various motivations and behaviours of cultural heritage tourists.

As cultural heritage experiences are increasingly targeted at visitors with specific characteristics, there are also attempts to isolate the defining characteristics of the experience itself. Cultural heritage experiences are invariably the product of cultural fragmentation (Firat and Dholakia 1998). This occurs where discrete cultural elements are translated into marketable commodities, isolating them from the culture they were originally embedded in. Elements such as traditional food, music and work practices are invested with new meanings to make them more “alluring, seductive and marketable” (Firat and Dholakia 1998:109). While sustaining communities economically, this type of transformation provides the foundation for the original tradition to be transformed into a more commercial hypertradition and something quite different to its original cultural origins.

While the increasing pressure to commercialise has led many historic site managers to consider ways of improving the entertainment, and hence the commercial value of their visitor experiences, most heritage sites see their primary role as one of conservation and education (Garrod and Fyall 2000; Malcolm-Davies 2004). The type of hyper-realistic entertainment described by Firat and Dholakia is generally viewed as incompatible with the conservation and educational goals implicit in the management of most heritage sites. However, a study by Malcolm-Davies (2004) notes that little research has been conducted into the relationship between education and entertainment to prove or disprove the educational effectiveness hyper-realistic cultural experiences at heritage sites.


Tourism and developments in World Heritage management There is an increased pressure on World Heritage Sites to form the basis of economic growth through tourism (Garrod and Fyall 2000; Jones and Munday 2001; Hospers 2002; Malcolm-Davies 2004). Unless carefully managed, this can lead to a loss of significance and authenticity through site degradation, and a loss of connection between local communities and their heritage (Pederson 2002). However, recent developments in the World Heritage nomination and reporting process indicate a growing awareness of the need to better balance conservation with sustainable economic and social development (Ahmad 2006). This is of particular interest for complex heritage sites where significance is linked to intangible cultural heritage as much as it is to the tangible built heritage.

The management of World Heritage Sites was first addressed as a specific field of interest in 1993 by Fielden and Jokilehto in the Management Guidelines for World Cultural Heritage Sites. Reference is made in the Management Guidelines to giving heritage a function in the life of the community, discussing objectives with local authorities and tourism boards, and the need for a comprehensive tourism development strategy for individual sites (Fielden and Jokilehto 1998). However, given that the primary aim of the World Heritage Convention is to ensure “. . . the identification, protection, conservation, presentation and transmission to future generations of cultural and natural heritage” (UNESCO 1972: Article 4), it is not surprising that the emphasis of the Management Guidelines at the time was on the conservation of tangible heritage rather than the management of intangible heritage and visitor activity (Rodwell 2002; Wilson and Boyle 2006).

This approach changed in 1997 when a standardised format for World Heritage nomination was adopted. A management plan became a pre-requisite for all nominations and sites inscribed before then were required to submit plans by 2005. Since 1997, the requirements for a formal planning approach and stakeholder participation have been further developed in the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention (UNESCO 2005) and six-yearly periodic reporting process. The Operational Guidelines suggest effective management should include a cycle of planning, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and feedback, together with the involvement of stakeholders in the planning process (UNESCO 2005: Article 111). The expectation of a holistic and integrated approach is further accentuated in the Budapest Declaration on World Heritage (World Heritage Committee 2002). However, there is very little guidance or advice on how to achieve this.



Research aim and justification A comprehensive review of studies of sustainable heritage tourism showed that most were confined to the theoretical relationship between sustainable development and tourism (Hunter 1997; Sharpley 2000), regional tourism planning (Dymond 1997; Simpson 2001) or stakeholder collaboration (Jamel and Getz 1995; Timothy 1998; Aas et al. 2005). While Faulkner and Tideswell’s (1997) study of the


community impacts of tourism, Cole’s (2004) study of mining heritage tourism, and Wilson and Boyle’s (2006) study of interorganisational collaboration at World Heritage Sites offered useful approaches, none focused specifically on the extent that World Heritage Site management plans addressed sustainable tourism. The need for a study that offered practical insights into the tourism planning process undertaken at World Heritage Sites was evident. The aim of this study was to therefore identify the extent that World Heritage Site management planning processes can be assessed for conformity with the desired principles of sustainable heritage tourism development.

World Heritage Sites were selected as the most appropriate sample because they represent the pinnacle of international heritage significance based on universally agreed criteria, and that significance is subject to independent evaluation by recognised expert bodies. Of the 754 sites on the World Heritage List in 2005 when the study commenced, the 33 industrial World Heritage Sites were considered to represent an easily identifiable and representational sub-category. Sites whose significance related to modern industrialisation were selected to further limit the sample and enhance the validity of findings through cross-case comparison. These sites share a relatively intact physical presence and common site management issues associated with their industrial scale, physical fabric and remote locations. The sites also share a relatively narrow cultural economy where contemporary economic prosperity is directly linked to a discernable period in history.

Of the 33 sites, five were considered an appropriate sample for this study. The five sites represent examples of early and more recently inscribed properties, fall under a relatively consistent legislative framework and had comprehensive management plans in place considered by many to be exemplars in the field (Rodwell 2002). The selected sites were Blaenavon Industrial Landscape, the Derwent Valley Mills, Ironbridge Gorge, New Lanark and Saltaire. Inscription on the World Heritage List in all five cases resulted from a combination of historical importance linked to the Industrial Revolution, and the extent and authenticity of the surviving physical fabric. The sites were also an integral part of active communities whose values and expectations needed to be linked to any World Heritage Convention obligations (Rodwell 2002). The location of each site is shown in Figure 2 and key World Heritage Site criteria are summarised in Table 2.

Research method Evidence for the remainder of the paper comes from a content analysis of each World Heritage Site’s management plan, in particular the planning process, objectives and action plans. As the primary data for the study were the text based plans, and existing theory in relation to the two themes impacting on sustainable practice had been identified, a qualitative and directed content analysis approach was considered most appropriate. Qualitative content analysis uses a systematic classification process of coding and identifying themes to interpret the content of text data. The goal of a directed approach is to validate or extend an existing theoretical framework (Hsieh and Shannon 2005). In this case, the


goal was to test the extent that World Heritage Site management plans integrated the two key themes of sustainability into the tourism management process. Having identified the two key themes as the initial coding categories, the following operational definitions were determined for each category: • • Strategic orientation is the terminology used when planning activity adopts a long-term and holistic approach to set a critical direction for the resource being planned for. Stakeholder participation is the terminology used when all individuals, groups and organisations whose lives are affected by a World Heritage site play a part in determining the management of that site (after Simpson 2001).

Thirty-four assessment items across four evaluative dimensions were extracted from the two definitions. The final evaluation instrument is a simplified version of similar instruments developed by Simpson (2001) and Ruhanen (2004) to determine the extent that sustainability principles had been integrated into the planning process at tourism destinations in New Zealand and Australia. Following Ruhanen’s qualitative approach, a three point Likert type scale was adopted to determine whether assessment items were evident, somewhat evident or not evident in each management plan. The final evaluation instrument is shown in Table 3.

The methodology then comprised three stages. Stage 1 examined each plan to determine commonalities in the plan structures and approach to the planning process. In Stage 2, each management plan was coded using the evaluation instrument. Stage 3 of the methodology involved the identification of themes in the coded data and their analysis to determine the extent that the principles of sustainable development were integrated into the tourism management process at each World Heritage Site. The results of the evaluation process are presented in the following section.



Management plan structure and approach to the planning process While there is a degree of variation, the management plans generally follow the three part structure proposed in Feilden and Jokilehto’s (1998) Management Guidelines – site description, evaluation and objectives, and overall site management. In all plans, the opening section/s provides a detailed description of the site, the reasons for World Heritage Listing, and the frameworks in place to ensure protection of the site. This was in the most part taken directly from the World Heritage nomination document. All plans then identify a number of site specific management issues. These issues are developed into objectives which are carried through into action plans in a standard linear planning process. Each action plan details the relevant action or project, the responsible lead agencies and a timeline for completion. Limited evaluation and review detail was provided.


All plans shared a commonality in the focus of objectives in five key areas: • Site administration, planning and policy – each plan sought to establish long-term management frameworks through multi-organisational partnerships. All sites had a full-time World Heritage Site Coordinator employed to implement the plan. • Conservation – a principle basis for management decisions in all plans was the maintenance of each site’s outstanding universal values. The majority of action plan projects therefore related to conservation works with tangible outcomes rather than conservation of the intangible cultural heritage values of each site. • Economic development – there is an emphasis, to a varying degree, on heritage-led regeneration and tourism in all the plans. This is not supported by detailed understanding and development of local tourism infrastructure or business capability in any of the plans. • Access and visitor management – this refers to the provision of visitor facilities, carrying capacity and the need to monitor visitors and the wider tourism context. All plans included reference to sustainable transportation strategies to managed visitor impact and increased use of bicycles and pedestrian access. • Public awareness, education and research – all plans note a mandate to increase public awareness of the universal values associated with each World Heritage Site.

Integration of sustainability principles into the planning process Situation analysis. All five plans provide an extensive historical background to support their claim for site significance. This is supported by detailed inventories and maps of historic items within the WHS boundary. Natural features are also detailed but only where they are an integral part of each site’s significance. All of the plans identify site specific situational factors as part of the key management issues section. Blaenavon for example identifies conservation, economic decline, continual land use, residual coal recovery and public access as key management issues. Derwent Valley Mills, Ironbridge Gorge, the two more densely populated sites, include transportation and river management while the Derwent Valley, Ironbridge Gorge and New Lanark include tourism/visitor management as a key issue. Both the Derwent Valley and New Lanark have funding as a key management issue and Saltaire makes specific reference to economic and social infrastructure, the impact of tourism on the community as well as transportation and traffic management. None of the plans provide specific detail in relation to the existing economic characteristics of the local area, the economic benefits of heritage tourism, existing tourism infrastructure capacity, local business skills or visitor statistics and only two of the plans detail any integration with other planning frameworks.

Strategic orientation. As noted previously, all plans follow a standard linear strategic planning process. While all plans address the issue of access and visitor management, only the Saltaire plan details more broadly based objectives in relation to economic and social infrastructure and the impact of tourism on the local community. There is no evidence that a range of strategic alternatives are


identified and evaluated in any of the plans or that specific objectives target equitable economic distribution or are quantifiable and measurable. Adequate quantifiable measures for the less tangible issues such as social well-being and heritage education are a notable omission from all plans.

Vision and values. Saltaire is the only management plan that addresses local community values, attitudes and lifestyles in any depth. There is a general assumption in all five planning documents that critical issues for residents and the World Heritage Site are generally the same thing and none of the documents adequately assesses community attitudes to heritage of local quality of life. While all plans included some form of stakeholder consultation, only Saltaire included local stakeholders throughout the planning process. A draft of the other four plans was prepared by the major land owner groups and relevant government and non-government agencies before general public consultation as sought.

Stakeholder participation. All of the management plans set out the relationship between key stakeholders and three of the five management plans detail the stakeholder consultation process. In the case of Ironbridge Gorge, a consultation draft was prepared by the World Heritage Site Strategy Group which comprises the major land holders and those organisations within the World Heritage site with statutory responsibility or authority under the World Heritage Convention. The document was circulated widely but the plan only notes that responses “endorsed the proposal that a more integrated approach” be adopted for the management of the site. The New Lanark consultation draft plan was prepared by the New Lanark Advisory Group, a similar group of major stakeholders to the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site Strategy Group. The Saltaire plan includes a number of detailed consultation reports with a wide variety of local stakeholder groups and a note that the “plan has been developed by the people who live and work in Saltaire, and by the principal owners and managers of land and buildings within the Site.

While the depth of consultation and the extent to which that consultation influenced the final strategic direction of each plan is not particularly apparent, all the management plans seek to establish a framework for long-term the participation of governmental, non-governmental, local and visitor groups. A World Heritage Site Coordinator and management structure has been established at all five sites. Site Coordinators vary in background with three having architectural/planning backgrounds and two conservation backgrounds. Management structures typically comprise a management committee supported by specialist technical panels and working groups. All plans make reference to an ongoing process of consultation and review but practical detail is limited.



The aim of this study was to identify the extent that World Heritage Site management planning processes at five UK World Heritage Sites can be assessed for conformity with the desired principles of sustainable heritage tourism development. Despite moves toward a more sustainable approach to


the management of the World’s Heritage at the policy level, this investigation found evident problems with the practical application of sustainability principles. Based on a content analysis of at five World Heritage site management plans, the plans were generally found to only partially meet the sustainable planning criteria of situation analysis, strategic orientation, community vision and values and stakeholder participation. This is a concern given that the management plans in question are considered by many to be exemplars in the field and possible models for the development of management plans at other heritage sites.

From the results of this study, it does appear that the World Heritage sites are not actively planning and managing the economic and social sustainability dimensions in the same way they are managing the environmental sustainability dimension. A significant factor in this is the level of stakeholder participation in the planning process and the extent of the situation analysis. While all plans make a significant effort to include the major land owners and relevant government and non-government agencies in both the planning process and ongoing management at each site, there is an apparent lack of grass roots consultation. Every effort is made to seek public opinion but only at the draft management plan stage in all cases except Saltaire. This is a significant lost opportunity given that education is a primary objective for World Heritage sites and early involvement in any such planning process not only educates stakeholders about the site, but also gives a level of ownership not found through the secondary process of commenting on a draft document.

Of further concern is the limited assessment of local economic characteristics and tourism infrastructure capacity evident in each plan. The reason for this may be the emphasis in the Feilden and Jokilehto (1998) Management Guidelines model on heritage conservation at the expense of the broader environmental scanning process used in business planning models. Only two of the plans detail any integration with other planning frameworks. This is a further indication of the isolation of World Heritage Sites from their local economy. The study also found a lack of adequate performance measures to support social sustainability objectives. Completion of a specific conservation project or measurement of visitor numbers are easily determined outcomes whereas the benefits of World Heritage site status for the local community is an intangible and difficult to measure outcome. This indicates there is a need to develop uniform performance measures to enhance the strategic planning process at each site and benchmarking between sites.

The author would like to gratefully acknowledge Peter van Herk for his constructive comments and contribution to the sustainable tourism model, Shellie Smith for her contribution the literature search, the Samuel H Kress Foundation and other conference sponsors for their generous support, and The University of Newcastle, Australia.


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