Mathis Stock (Université de Lausanne)


From 9:00
to 10:30
From 9:00
to 10:30

Course description

Globalisation of the concept of world heritage is driven by UNESCO as a conservationist movement. The widespread adoption of the 1972 UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage is sustained by more than 1,000 properties in more than 150 countries designated as embodying Outstanding Universal Value. Yet it is heavily related to tourism since different actors mobilise the label successfully for tourist purposes. As labels used for territorial marketing and as places of interest for tourists, the management of UNESCO sites is challenging. The link between the globalisation of heritage and the globalisation of tourism lies therefore at the core of the course. Globalisation of tourism as a long-term movement begins in the 19th century, accelerating in the 1970’s and 2000’s. UNWTO counts now for more than 1.3 billons of international tourism arrivals (from 25 millions in 1950). As a result, mass tourism is one of the issues, and the development UNESCO-labeld spots adds both new destinations and acts in favour of conservation. There is therefore a tension between conservation and tourism built into the very concept of world heritage. Several challenges are examined throughout the course: the invention of a global heritage concept based on Outstanding Universal Value, the necessary yet paradoxical touristic dimension of heritage, the creation of global “heritage-scape” (Di Giovine, 2009), the symbolic use of heritage as soft power, the risk of overtourism in some selected spots, etc.

This is especially significant for cities, which have long been using tourism as a means for generating economic income, yet there is a growing concern with its sustainability. On the one hand, the issue of overtourism is examined, where the role of the different kinds of stakeholders are examined. Rooting in the 1970’s criticism of mass tourism and the notion of carrying capacity, there is a renewed resistance to negative effects of tourism (overcrowding, tourism-induced gentryfication, eviction of everyday activities and commerce, etc.) since 2015. After decades of pro-growth policies, there is now an attempt to regulate more effectively tourism in certain European cities. On the other hand, in the context of the SARS Co-V 2 pandemic, tourism has abruptly stopped, showing cities without tourism for the first time for decades with huge yet temporary impacts on the urban economy. This event allows for questioning of traditional models of tourism development and to the fear of losing tourism as basis for the urban economy. The opportunities and challenges of a newly regulated urban tourism are currently discussed by various stakeholders.
Venice will serve as a main case study to the current challenges of heritage and tourism, where multiple actors intervene both for conservationist and tourist promotion. The UNESCO site management plan 2018 implicated the responsible bodies of the site such as the Regional Bureau of UNESCO for Science and Culture in Europe, the Department of Cultural Heritage and Landscape of Veneto, the Venice Water authority, the state archives of Venice,the Architectural Heritage and Landscape of Venice and its Lagoon, the city of Venice and its office of the UNESCO site, the museum pole of Venice, the municipalities within the lagoon boundary area, etc. The analysis of this planning document as well as excursions to the UNESCO site (which comprises the city of Venice and its lagoon), tourism sites and to the main tourism and heritage stakeholders will be part of the course.


Learning outcomes
• On a cognitive level, a) to gain knowledge about tourism and heritage as a theoretical problem for social science and b) to understand tourism and heritage as current political, economic, ecological and geographical issue, c) to understand cities as “visitor economies” linked with issues of overcrowding in selected spots, d) to learn about Venice as specific geographic setting and its current issues.
• On a methodological level, a) to discuss and criticise scientific texts, b) to analyse UNESCO documentation as political documents, c) to be able to conduct case studies and d) carry out and make use of excursions
• From a communication point of view, a) write an essay on tourism and heritage and b) communicate orally in a structured way on a specific topic and defend a specific opinion.


Teaching methods
Overall, the course is based on in-class activities (divided between lectures and workshops on critical readings) and excursions and encounters with relevant stakeholders and privileges interactivity. There will be three types of sessions: a) theory-oriented reading sessions; b) gathering of first-hand material through excursions and encounters with stakeholders; c) presentations and discussion of essays.


Evaluation will be based on:
• Oral presentations during classes (50%)
• Final essay (50%)



Week 1: Introduction: What is tourism? What is heritage? What is globalisation?

Week 2: The history of tourism and heritage: the push towards globalisation

Week 3: The concept of “heritage-scape”: a global-local nexus

Week 4: UNESCO world heritage sites and issues of touristification

Week 5: The “touristic ecumene”: “anything is potentially an attraction” (MacCannell)

Week 6: The quantification of tourism as global standardisation: issues and solutions

Week 7: Globalisation of tourism in the urban context

Week 8: The heritageing of the city: Venice goes global!

Week 9: Managing heritage cities

Week 10: The UNESCO site of Venice and the threats to conservation (1)

Week 11: The UNESCO site of Venice and the threats to conservation (2)

Week 12: Conclusion and final presentations


• Antonescu A. & Stock M., 2014, Reconstruction of the globalisation of tourism, Annals of Tourism Research, vol. 45, 1, 77-88
• Davis, Robert C. & Garry Marvin (2004), Venice, the tourist maze: A cultural critique of the world's most touristed city. University of California Press, Berkeley, Ca.
• Di Giovine, M. A. (2008). The heritage-scape: UNESCO, World Heritage, and tourism. Lexington Books.
• Dodds, R. & R. Butler (Hrsg.), 2019, Overtourism, Issues, Realities and Solutions. Berlin/Boston,
• Dredge D., Gyimóthy S., Birkbak A., Jensen T. E. and Madsen A. K., 2016. The impact of regulatory approaches targeting collaborative economy in the tourism accommodation sector: Barcelona, Berlin, Amsterdam and Paris. Brussels: European Commission.
• Frisch T., Sommer Ch., Stoltenberg L. & Stors N. (ed.), Tourism and Everyday Life in the Contemporary City, Routledge
• Gravari-Barbas, M., Bourdeau, L., Robinson, M. (2016). World Heritage, Tourism and Identity. London: Routledge
• Meskell, L., Liuzza, C., Bertacchini, E., & Saccone, D. (2015). Multilateralism and UNESCO World Heritage: Decision-making, States Parties and political processes. International Journal of Heritage Studies, 21(5), 423–440.
• Milano, C., J-M Cheer & M. Novelli 2019: Overtourism. Excesses, Discontents and Measures in Travel and Tourism. Wallingford, Oxfordshire
• UNESCO, 2018, Venice and its lagoon Unesco world heritage site. The management plan 2012-2018.
• Stock M. (ed.), 2021, French tourism geographies. Inhabiting touristic worlds, Springer




Last updated: 17 January, 2023



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