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World Heritage Listing of Australian Natural Sites: Tourism Stimulus and Its Economic Value


  • Tisdell, Clem

    (School of Economics, The University of Queensland)

  • Wilson, Clevo

    (School of Economics, The University of Queensland)


Australia has 14 areas inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list, on the basis of their globally outstanding natural and in some cases also cultural values. Many regard listing as prestigious and believe that it acts as a signalling device like a brand name. But to what extent and in what ways does the extra prestige bestowed by this listing translate into increased economic value for listed properties? This article deals with two main aspects of World Heritage listing. First, it examines the hypothesis that World Heritage listing increases tourist visitation numbers, drawing on international visitor time-series data for empirical evidence. It is found that although visitor numbers are likely to increase as a result of World Heritage listing, the increase is not as large as is often perceived. Some properties continue to experience low visitation rates despite World Heritage listing, and reasons for this phenomenon are advanced. Likely reasons for the inequalities in growth patterns of visits to different World Heritage properties are highlighted. Secondly, the article considers how the economic value of the tourism stimulus provided by World Heritage listing can be measured in principle and relates this to economic impact analysis and total economic valuation. Important and neglected limitations to the use of the travel cost method in this context are identified.

Suggested Citation

  • Tisdell, Clem & Wilson, Clevo, 2002. "World Heritage Listing of Australian Natural Sites: Tourism Stimulus and Its Economic Value," Economic Analysis and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 27-49, June Spec.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecanpo:v:32:y:2002:i:2:p:27-49

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Tisdell, Clement A. & Wilson, Clevo, 2000. "Tourism and Conservation of Sea Turtles: An Australian Case Study," Economics, Ecology and Environment Working Papers 48007, University of Queensland, School of Economics.
    2. Nick Hanley & Clive L. Spash, 1993. "Cost–Benefit Analysis and the Environment," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 205.
    3. Harry R. Clarke & Yew-Kwang Ng, 1993. "Tourism, economic welfare and efficient pricing," Monash Economics Working Papers archive-18, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    4. Ger Klaassen & David Pearce, 1995. "Introduction," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 5(2), pages 85-93, March.
    5. Ian J. Bateman & Guy D. Garrod & Julii S. Brainard & Andrew A. Lovett, 1996. "Measurement Issues In The Travel Cost Method: A Geographical Information Systems Approach," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(1‐4), pages 191-205, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bruno S. Frey & Paolo Pamini, 2010. "World Heritage: Where Are We? An Empirical Analysis," CESifo Working Paper Series 2919, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Bruno S. Frey & Paolo Pamini, 2009. "Making World Heritage Truly Global: The Culture Certificate Scheme," CREMA Working Paper Series 2009-13, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
    3. Bruno S. Frey & Paolo Pamini & Lasse Steiner, 2011. "What determines the World Heritage List? An econometric analysis," ECON - Working Papers 001, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
    4. Tisdell, Clement A., 2003. "Ecotourism/Wildlife based Tourism as Contributor to Nature Conservation with Reference to Vanni, Sri Lanka," Economics, Ecology and Environment Working Papers 48956, University of Queensland, School of Economics.
    5. Gillespie, Robert & Bennett, Jeff, 2017. "Costs and Benefits of Rodent Eradication on Lord Howe Island, Australia," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 140(C), pages 215-224.
    6. Cuccia, Tiziana & Guccio, Calogero & Rizzo, Ilde, 2016. "The effects of UNESCO World Heritage List inscription on tourism destinations performance in Italian regions," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 494-508.
    7. Bruno S. Frey & Lasse Steiner, 2013. "World Heritage List," Chapters, in: Ilde Rizzo & Anna Mignosa (ed.), Handbook on the Economics of Cultural Heritage, chapter 8, pages i-i, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    8. Bruno S. Frey & Lasse Steiner, 2010. "World Heritage List: Does It Make Sense?," CREMA Working Paper Series 2010-11, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
    9. Clem Tisdell, 2006. "Valuation of Tourism's Natural Resources," Chapters, in: Larry Dwyer & Peter Forsyth (ed.), International Handbook on the Economics of Tourism, chapter 16, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    10. David Wuepper & Marc Patry, 2017. "The World Heritage list: Which sites promote the brand? A big data spatial econometrics approach," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 41(1), pages 1-21, February.
    11. Tiziana Cuccia & Calogero Guccio & Ilde Rizzo, 2013. "Does Unesco inscription affect the performance of tourism destinations? A regional perspective," ACEI Working Paper Series AWP-04-2013, Association for Cultural Economics International, revised Oct 2013.
    12. Elina Simone & Rosaria Rita Canale & Amedeo Maio, 2019. "Do UNESCO World Heritage Sites Influence International Tourist Arrivals? Evidence from Italian Provincial Data," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 146(1), pages 345-359, November.

    More about this item



    JEL classification:

    • L83 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Sports; Gambling; Restaurants; Recreation; Tourism
    • Q26 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Recreational Aspects of Natural Resources


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