The Role of Visitor Centres in UNESCO Designated Sites

July 18, 2023 Published by Alex McCoskrie

The final report of the 4th regional workshop on the Role of Visitor Centres in UNESCO Designated Sites has been released online. It provides insight from participants on fostering tourism sustainability and effective visitor management. The workshop, held in Buzau in November, brought together managers from 22 UNESCO sites across 16 European countries, offering a platform to exchange valuable experiences and perspectives.

UNESCO designated sites, including World Heritage Sites, attract a diverse range of visitors and hold the potential to support various ecologically and socially sustainable uses, such as tourism, which can significantly contribute to local development.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many destinations in Europe have seen a strong rebound in tourism arrivals and spending, resulting in the recovery approaching its pre-COVID level, while important economic, social, and environmental challenges and risks remain ahead.

The workshop called on UNESCO designated sites to re-evaluate their tourism strategies and models as destinations, enhance their capacities to manage visitor flows, influence visitor behaviour, and develop meaningful and beneficial experiences for both tourists and local communities through visitor/information centres.

Drawing on extensive discussions during the meeting and complementary research, the report sheds light on the most pressing concerns faced by managers of UNESCO designated sites in Europe regarding the sustainable management and utilisation of their cultural and natural resources. The report underlines what sustainable tourism means in the context of UNESCO designated sites and accordingly, how to achieve the relevant goals by implementing better visitor facilities and services.

Click here to download a copy of the report.