Applying Environmental Valuation Techniques to Historic Buildings, Monuments and Artifacts
Edited by Ståle Navrud and Richard C. Ready
Chapter 6: Preserving Cultural Heritage in Transition Economies: A Contingent Valuation Study of Bulgarian Monasteries
Susana Mourato, Andreas Kontoleon and Alexi Danchev INTRODUCTION Bulgarian Christian–Orthodox monasteries are an important component of the country’s cultural, artistic, historical and religious legacy. They are widely regarded as sanctuaries of national consciousness, cultural continuity and tradition, and many possess a broad recreational and economic potential. Currently, there are 164 monasteries in Bulgaria of which the most famous, the Rila Monastery, listed as a World Heritage Site since 1983, attracts thousands of visitors every year. However, the general state of conservation of monasteries is poor; a significant number of sites are in urgent need of repair, restoration and maintenance works. The damage is in many cases irreversible; with every destroyed site, future generations lose an opportunity to be enriched by their cultural history. The reasons behind the declining state of Bulgarian monasteries can be partly attributed to the non-existence of adequate government support. Currently, the financing structure for monasteries is unclear even for those working in the sector. There is no unique mechanism to finance conservation and repair works. Most financial support is linked to the state budget, either directly or indirectly through the Ministry of Culture, the National Institute of Cultural Monuments, the Directory of Religious Affairs and the regional municipalities (Danchev and Mourato, 1997).1 The economic rationale for the use of state grants is the theory of public goods. Essentially, there is a presumption that individuals will understate their true willingness to pay for the benefits of a public good because (i) its provision can be...
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