Research & Publications

Maritime Greenwich UNESCO World Heritage site, London UK – home to the University of Greenwich and first postgraduate programme in Cultural Tourism Management

ICTC – a catalyst for innovative thinking

ICTC members have a prolific record of publication, either through books, book chapters, refereed journal articles, guidelines or consultancy reports. To date we have not sought to capture this wealth of philosophical and practical thinking and research. Rather we have concentrated on amassing evidence to underpin the Committee’s future work during a period of rapid and tumultuous change in the tourism industry and in particular in the field of cultural tourism. The ICTC President’s address to the international conference in Vigan, Philippines in 2012 indicates the start of accelerating change in cultural tourism. 

On behalf of ICOMOS, ICTC responded to the questionnaire circulated by UNWTO linked to the UN International Year of Tourism for Development (IYSTD) 2017. Our response is attached.

ICOMOS celebrated IYSTD with the theme Cultural Heritage & Sustainable Tourism for International Monuments & sites Day – 18 April 2017 and produced a bibliography. (copy attached)

 An evidence-based approach

Our work provides a strong evidence base for our 2017 Review of the ICOMOS International Cultural Tourism Charter +20 – planned to coincide with the UN International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development (IYSTD) and the broader context of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030. We have received strong support in our work from our Institutional Member – the Romualdo Del Bianco Foundation, Florence, Italy.

A key outcome from the International Expert Symposium & Workshop, Florence, Italy 18 – 19 May 2017 is the “Florence Declaration” on Cultural Heritage Conservation & Sustainable Tourism for Development. (English & French versions are attached) (English) (French).

Over the past six years ICOMOS ISC Cultural Tourism (ICTC) has embraced and addressed issues relating to sustainable tourism development and cultural heritage protection, safeguarding and conservation. There has been a particular focus on UNESCO World Heritage sites and those on the Tentative List as catalysts for developing best practice at cultural heritage tourism destinations.  (For example our work in Sukhothai, Thailand sponsored by DASTA).

Our research initially concentrated on the empowerment of local people enabling them to better protect their culture and landscapes or cityscapes, record and relate often complex sets of narratives, welcoming visitors as stakeholders within their communities and developing meaningful cultural encounters to ensure – over the long term – the safeguarding and conservation of their own cultural heritage in the tourism context. (See – for example – our Report on the Ifugao Rice Terraces in the Philippines)

An ICTC led symposium in 2014 on Creative Cities as World Heritage Tourist Destinations examined the visitor & community interface in the city of Florence, Italy. We looked at how a range of different approaches to strategic and operational planning and management can lead to positive cultural interaction and a worthwhile, enjoyable visitor experience; and why and when there is disengagement amongst tourists and local people from the cultural heritage they either live within or experience as tourists, this ultimately leads to dystopia.

An emphasis on heritage values, innovation and visitor management was taken forward the following year at our conference with ICOMOS Thailand and ICOMOS International Committee on Vernacular Architecture (CIAV) on Timber Heritage Conservation and Cultural Tourism’. (ICTC President’s address attached)

Working upstream with Seychelles Ministry of Culture & Tourism and ICOMOS Seychelles in 2015 we investigated  concerns regarding the nomination of  ‘Mission Ruins’ of Venn’s Town, Mahé – originally an industrious school built by the Anglican Church Missionary society in 1875 to accommodate children of liberated slaves – placed on the Tentative List in 2013. Located in the Morne Seychellois National Park it is a place of for reflection, evoking of memories past and present for the African diaspora who arrived on the island as slaves and now often as tourists. Our seminar: “World Heritage & Cultural Tourism Development – Inclusive Approaches to Dissonant Heritage & Conflicting Interpretation” included participants from the wider East African Region of the Seychelles, Mauritius, Reunion & Madagascar as well as the African World Heritage Fund (AWHF). (Report attached) 

“We extended our engagement with the World Heritage Tentative List in 2016 at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Hawai’i leading a session on ‘Reinforcing the role of Cultural Tourism Management Planning to Sustain Biodiversity and Communities at Proposed Indigenous World Heritage Sites. This research is on-going with published guidelines planned for 2018.”

A message from Sue Millar, President ICOMOS ICTC 2011-2017 

St Hripsime Armenia

“Development, inter alia sustainable cultural tourism development, is such an all-encompassing concept that it can be negatively exploitative and damaging to cultural heritage if costs, speed and quantity of development outweigh an ill-defined quality or a misunderstanding of the sensitivities of heritage development in the context of dynamic communities and their visitors. When done well tourism development is a significant and positive driver for conservation initiatives and protecting our heritage. Tourism is sustainable only if cultural heritage conservation and safeguarding are embedded into integrated and inclusive planning, carefully considered regulation and the development of cultural tourism at tourism destinations as a priority from the outset and not as a reactive ‘quick fix’. 

A tipping point has been reached. Cultural tourism can no longer be defined as an exclusive niche area of activity at a tourism destination. Cultural tourism is mainstream. It is popular and demand-led reaching deep into a community’s way of life with ‘cultural encounters’ fast becoming ‘cultural wars’ in crowded cities. Cultural tourism has a critical role in sustainable development agendas and the delivery of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) 2030. Clear policy directions and strategic planning embracing cultural tourism development is both important and urgent. ” 

The Patachitra of Pingla, West Bengal, India – a cultural destination in the making