World Heritage Journeys of Europe: Innovation Library
These case studies showcase innovative solutions developed by World Heritage site managers and their local partners, from among the featured sites of World Heritage Journeys in the European Union. They were developed for a series of workshops hosted by UNESCO in September and October 2017 to encourage collaboration and knowledge sharing between the sites, and to provide lessons and models for other heritage site managers around the world. The innovations are separated into four categories: Community Engagement, Storytelling and Sense of Place, Visitor Services and Adaptive Solutions.
This section includes establishing community events to educate and entertain, encourage local engagement through volunteering platforms, raise community awareness of the significance of World Heritage status and use local knowledge to improve visitor experience. Some sites have also created inclusive brands that incorporate attractions across the site to encourage stakeholder cooperation.
Storytelling and Sense of Place
Storytelling is an effective way to provide visitors a deeper understanding of a place or culture, and develop a sense of place at the site. It is a useful method to connect the past and present and encourages visitors to explore further and stay longer at the site. Using digital technologies, many sites use storytelling to transport visitors back in time, to imagine how everyday life might have been like and hear stories of local history. This style of innovation is also used to promote regional tourism by providing experiences and stories from local residents.
Improving the visitor experience is increasingly important to the success of tourism at World Heritage sites. Good customer service and accessible interpretation is an important factor contributing to the visitor experience. Creating a welcoming environment for visitors expands the visitor audience and encourages repeat visitation. Innovations in this section include packaged ticketing for multiple sites, enabling visitors to see more during their stay and raise awareness of nearby sites. Improved interpretation through better signage around the site, multimedia displays, talks, and knowledgeable staff who are available to provide extra information. Accessibility is also a major focus for many sites, with innovations that include improved wheelchair access, signage in braille, staff training in sign language, and lift access for visitors.
Site managers identified the need to initiate new ways of attracting visitors to their World Heritage site, this has led to the adaptation of sites to accommodate for the changing needs of visitors. Innovations include open air theatres, university and study sites and connecting with local businesses to promote sustainable tourism as a whole in the region. These innovations focus on reducing challenges such as seasonality and decreasing visitor numbers. It can also encourage new partnerships and increase revenue for the site upkeep, while attracting new visitors by rebranding the site.