‘No two world heritage sites are alike but all share common problems such as the need for a delicate balance between visitation and conservation’ (Shackley 2000). Each World Heritage Site should have a management plan that deals with entry charges, potential damage to the heritage resources, congestion, reduction of visitors at peak times and dealing with specific types of visitors. World Heritage Sites act as a magnet for visitors because it is believed that World Heritage listing increases visitor numbers. According to UNESCO (1972) as was stated in the World Heritage Convention, ‘World Heritage Sites should retain and function in current community life while being conserved for transmission to future generations’. However tourism, especially excessive tourism at some of the World Heritage Sites place great deals of physical pressure on the sites and possible emotional pressures on the surrounding communities. It is therefore necessary that if a specific site is given World Heritage status that it is to be maintained and remain accessible to current and future generations. Consequently managing tourism and tourists within the sites sustainably should be a critical issue (Garrod & Fyall, 2000; Pederson, 2002).
OVERVIEW OF HERITAGE
Heritage can be considered what we hold on to from the past, what we possess today and what we may pass on to those who are here after us. The heritage that we possess; both cultural and natural cannot be replaced and are considered a vital link to our past, especially for the future generations. There are many places in the world that possess qualities such as these; the wilds of East Africa’s Serengeti, the Pyramids of Egypt, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Baroque cathedrals of Latin America, and these places make up the world’s heritage. World heritage sites are places where persons from any background can make a link to their past, these places do not just belong to the persons who live among them but to anyone that may have an interest in them and that could seemingly be anyone in the world (UNESCO 2009). Heritage attractions can be considered the “crown jewels” of the world’s natural and cultural heritage (Leask and Fyall 2006). According to UNESCO (2009) “The World Heritage List includes 890 properties forming part of the cultural and natural heritage which the World Heritage Committee considers as having outstanding universal value. These include 689 cultural, 176 natural and 25 mixed properties in 148 States Parties”. In order to have these World Heritage sites for future use certain missions were put in place by UNESCO (2009) such as; * encourage countries to sign the World Heritage Convention and to ensure the protection of their natural and cultural heritage; * encourage States Parties to establish management plans and set up reporting systems on the state of conservation of their World Heritage sites; * help States Parties safeguard World Heritage properties by providing technical assistance and professional training; * encourage participation of the local population in the preservation of their cultural and natural heritage; * encourage international cooperation in the conservation of our world's cultural and natural heritage. It can be said that many heritage visitor attractions are not commercial businesses but serve a more educational purpose. Due to this fact heritage sites depend heavily on financial or voluntary assistance from the government or Trusts (Leask and Yeoman 1999). Heritage visitor attractions are not all the same and are perceived differently by individuals. For example Leask and Yeoman (1999, 176) confirm that: Heritage visitor attractions range from small, unmanned individual sites to clearly defined small-scale geographical areas that people visit for a limited period of time. The attractions offer ‘an experience’, an intangible product that visitors participate in to varying degrees and...
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