The main purpose of this article is to portray locals’ perception of tourism impact, rural development and the role of the local communities in two World Heritage (WH) sites. The impact of WH on tourism is a much-debated matter for both WH practitioners and academics while United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) during the last 10 years has emphasised the concept of “community” as an integrated feature of the WH strategy. The results are based on an empirical attitude study in combination with focus group interviews portraying local residents’ perception of WH designation and tourism in the transnational WH High Coast/Kvarken Archipelago situated in Sweden and Finland. The overall local perception of WH designation is quite similar in both countries, although ways of administrating WH sites differ. The results show an overall positive attitude towards local tourism development, but a relatively low understanding of UNESCO WH concept. High Coast residents seem to be overall more positive than the locals in Kvarken to the WH designation and a possible increase in tourism. The Finnish authorities, on the one hand, seem to have a stronger urge to benefit from the WH status than their Swedish counterparts. Nevertheless, the WH status in the rural areas of the High Coast region fits into a larger destination building and does not alone constitute the driving force for regional tourism development. Both WH sites show a limited and partly conflict-laden collaboration between communities and authorities in WH planning. Improved cooperation between actors would give WH and tourism a better chance to develop and at the same time display a more positive image of the WH sites.
Svels, K. (2015). World Heritage, Tourism and Community Involvement: A Comparative Study of the High Coast (Sweden) and Kvarken Archipelago (Finland). Scandinavian Journal of Hospitality and Tourism, 15(1–2), pp. 183–201, doi:10.1080/15022250.2015.1009708.