Table of Contents

Handbook on the Economics of Cultural Heritage

Handbook on the Economics of Cultural Heritage

Elgar original reference

Edited by Ilde Rizzo and Anna Mignosa

Cultural heritage is a complex and elusive concept, constantly evolving through time, and combining cultural, aesthetic, symbolic, spiritual, historical and economic values. The Handbook on the Economics of Cultural Heritage outlines the contribution of economics to the design and analysis of cultural heritage policies and to addressing issues related to the conservation, management and enhancement of heritage.

Chapter 19: Heritage tourism

Lluís Bonet

Subjects: development studies, tourism, economics and finance, cultural economics, public sector economics, environment, tourism, geography, tourism


Cultural and heritage tourism began to expand as a mass phenomenon in the 1970s and ’80s with a considerable economic and social impact. It was a consequence of the self-development of the tourism industry and its need for diversification (Bull, 1991). During the previous decades and stimulated by a long period of unbroken economic growth in most developed countries, tourism enjoyed a great expansion (Timothy, 2011). This was largely based on standardized products, mainly offered by tour operators through the travel agencies system. The result was an increase in the number of destinations and resorts. Over the years, many of them have followed a life-cycle profile, from involvement and consolidation, to stagnation and, in some cases, even decline (Butler, 1980). So, the need to adapt the current offer to a more exigent demand, fuelled by a rising competition with new destinations, developed the specializations of many tourism areas and the search for added-value products. The resulting scene is characterized by being much more dynamic and competitive, in which a multitude of specialized offers proliferate at lower costs. Tourism products can be segmented by travel motivation (business, holiday, health, academic or religion, among many other driving forces), by user groups (families, senior citizens, professional people or students), by destination (cities, coast areas, countryside regions or countries), by time (holiday seasons, weekends, special events or business periods), and by the level of maturity of the destination (more or less emergent, with larger or weaker touristic supply, level of social reputation).

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