Take advantage of the search to browse through the World Heritage Centre information.

Sustainable Tourism Toolkit

UNESCO World Heritage Sustainable Tourism Toolkit

Sustainable planning and management of tourism is one of the most pressing challenges concerning the future of the World Heritage Convention today and is the focus of the UNESCO World Heritage and Sustainable Tourism Programme.

These 'How To' guides for World Heritage Site managers and other key stakeholders will enable a growing number of World Heritage Site communities to make positive changes to the way they pro-actively manage tourism.

How to use this guide

These easily accessible 'How To' guides are focused on best practice approaches to sustainable economic development through tourism.  The first of their kind, the 'How To' resources offer direction and guidance to managers of World Heritage tourism destinations and other stakeholders to help identify the most suitable solutions for circumstances in their local environments and aid in developing general know-how for the management of each destination.

The 'How To' guides bring best practice knowledge to the full WH community, so that site managers, tourism professionals, conservation professionals, and communities around the world understand the possibilities of sustainable tourism and what key issues have already been achieved. These resources are a valuable asset to site managers in particular, who often lack the tools and know-how to effectively manage and maximise tourism benefits, while minimising its negative impacts.

Our series of guides have been structured as a step-by-step process for site managers.

  • Guides 1-4 establish the basic foundations for sustainable tourism (these are coloured yellow).
  • Guides 5-10 are tailored to more specific issues, which will have greater relevance at some sites than at others (these are coloured orange).

We recommend that site managers explore each guide, however,  as sustainable tourism is a holistic process, addressing all issues in a strategic manner.

Our Objective

The goal is to stimulate local solutions in communities through capacity-building in best practice. With the immense scale and variation of World Heritage Properties around the globe, coupled with scarce human and financial resources, this is now more important than ever. Site managers and other stakeholders in the tourism sector must have access to these types of  innovative sustainability tools in order to develop and formulate their own successful results.

Ideally, site managers and other users will begin to navigate through this system by learning basic ideas and guidance. The system then enables the user to delve deeper into any given subject that falls in line with their local interests, needs, and aspirations.

Our objective for these guidance resources is to enable the growth and success of an entire community of World Heritage Properties, making positive changes to their local surroundings and pro-actively managing tourism in their areas. In parallel, by establishing this community, we aim to facilitate knowledge exchange of the most progressive ideas, and encourage their implementation and evolution.

The driving ethic for the 'How To' guides is to explain critically important ideas for sustainable tourism in World Heritage sites in a clear and concise manner, conveying the key knowledge and processes in a reading time of under 20 minutes per idea. Our goal is to make implementing the ideas of sustainable tourism easier to understand and put into practice for all parties involved.

Getting started

We understand the complex range of different societies in which World Heritage sites exist, and the many challenges site managers face on a daily basis. While the intention is to encourage each site to undertake most, or at least many, of the tasks included in the guides, considering them together all at once may seem daunting and even impossible.

We have developed this tool as a source of guidance and inspiration. It is a menu of ideas from which you, the user, may choose to put into practice, helping your World Heritage site become more sustainable for its current and future visitors.

Getting to know these 'How To' guides will move your site towards better self-management and sustainability rather than demand a level of sophistication that might simply be unattainable for some World Heritage sites. We would urge all site managers to read through these resources thoroughly and begin to think about what positive steps can be taken to implement these changes. Again, we remind each user that results will differ for each site, and the circumstances of the local environment and community must always be taken into consideration.

Resource Library

Global good practice examples

Tourism, Culture and Sustainable Development

UNESCO (2006)

English French

IUCN World Heritage Advice Note. Environmental Assessment & World Heritage

IUCN (2013)

Guidance on Heritage Impact Assessments for Cultural World Heritage Properties

ICOMOS (2011)

Managing Tourism at World Heritage Sites: a Practical Manual for World Heritage Site Managers

UNESCO World Heritage Paper Series n°1 (2002)

Climate Change. Adaptation and Mitigation in the Tourism Sector: Frameworks, Tools and Practices

UNEP (2008)

Enhancing our Heritage Toolkit

UNESCO World Heritage Paper Series n°23 (2008)

English French

Best Practice Guidelines for Great Ape Tourism

IUCN (2010)

English French

Criteria for Sustainable Tourism for the three Biosphere Reserves Aggtelek, Babia Góra and Šumava

Ecological Tourism in Europe (ETE) and UNESCO-BRESCE (2009)

Practical, profitable, protected. A starter guide to developing sustainable tourism in protected areas

ECEAT in partnership with the EUROPARC Federation (2012)

The contribution of tourism to sustainable development and achieving the Millennium Development Goals

BMZ  Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development Position Paper 2|2011e (2012)

Guide on EU funding for the tourism sector (2014-2020)

European Commission, Directorate-General for Entreprise and Industry (2014)

Sustainable Tourism for Development Guidebook

UNWTO (2013)

English French

World Heritage: Challenges for the Millennium

UNESCO (2007)

English French

The Urban Rehabilitation of Medinas : The World Bank Experience in the Middle East and North Africa

The World Bank (2010)

Adapting to change: the state of conservation of World Heritage forests in 2011

UNESCO World Heritage Paper Series n°30 (2011)

UNESCO Pacific World Heritage Workshop (5-9 September 2011, Apia, Samoa)

UNESCO (2012)

Safeguarding Precious Resources for Island Communities

UNESCO World Heritage Paper Series n°38 (2014)

Terrestrial biodiversity and the World Heritage List: identifying broad gaps and potential candidate sites for inclusion in the natural World Heritage network

IUCN (2013)

English French

Culture & Development Nº 11

UNESCO (2014)

Supported by

Archive: Website before 15 Mars 2023