Community Participation in Sustainable Valorisation of Cultural Heritage: The Case of the Municipality of Vrsar
Sustainable tourism, as tourism that respects both residents and visitors, cultural heritage and the environment, can offer appropriate models for sustainable cultural heritage management and local economy development. Community participation is one of the fundamental principles of sustainable tourism. It was introduced in tourism studies more than three decades ago and elaborated through different methodological approaches and research. The purpose of this paper is to elaborate the local community perspectives regarding sustainable valorisation of cultural and archaeological heritage. The research was realised within the framework of ArchaeoCulTour, a recent scientific project whose main goal is to analyse the development potential of archaeological heritage through sustainable tourism in Istria County, Croatia. The research has considered the Municipality of Vrsar in Western Istria, a typical Mediterranean tourist destination, characterised by mass tourism and high seasonality, as a case study. The research has shown that the residents in the Municipality of Vrsar partially support the current tourism development model, faced with different sustainability challenges and many infrastructural problems. Residents are interested in being better informed and more involved in the tourism planning process and the participatory heritage management models. They agree that the main sustainability issues could be improved through sustainable valorisation of local cultural and natural resources by creating innovative tourism experiences, and they are interested to participate in this co-creating process. Keywords: tourism destinations, cultural heritage, sustainable cultural tourism, community participation
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