Visitor Centres in UNESCO Designated Sites

Project name :

Regional workshops on the role of Visitor Centres in UNESCO Designated Sites

Budget :

500K$ - 1M$

Project duration :

01-01-2018
© UNESCO

What is the role – actual and potential – of visitor centres in UNESCO designated sites such as World Heritage properties, Biosphere Reserves, and Global Geo-parks? How can such centres better contribute to the objectives of the different designations, and of the sites themselves? To explore these questions, UNESCO, through its Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe, launched an interdisciplinary initiative on the subject in 2018, with the organization of the first regional workshop for Europe on the role of visitor centres in UNESCO designated sites.

The first workshop hosted by the City of Palermo (Italy), brought together representatives from selected designated sites from Europe, together with other international experts and UNESCO staff, in order to share knowledge and lessons learned on the subject, and to produce advice for the enhancement of existing visitor centres and the establishment of new ones. In particular, the following three topics were identified as main focus areas for such centres, and proposed as themes for subsequent editions of the workshop series:

  • Interpretation of heritage and education
  • Community engagement and community-oriented services
  • Tourism sustainability and visitors’ management

The organisation of this series of regional workshops is possible thanks to the annual contribution of Italy to the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe.

The definition “Visitor Centre”, used within the present framework, refers to any kind of organized service with front-desk activities, the main purpose of which is to facilitate the presentation, interpretation and/or visit of UNESCO designated sites. This concept includes a broad range of different structures, sometimes carrying different names (e.g. “interpretation centre”, “information centre”, “house”, "World Heritage site centre”, etc.). Although the name “Visitor Centre” may imply a focus on visitors as main target group, this definition was taken as reference because of its wide use, while assuming that the role and services of such centres should also be aimed at other key stakeholders, starting from local communities.

Activities and related news

Working with Communities – 3rd regional workshop for Europe on the role of Visitor Centres in UNESCO designated sites, Online - Ercolano, Italy (2021).

Educating for Sustainable Development through Heritage Interpretation - 2nd regional workshop for Europe on the role of Visitor Centres in UNESCO designated sites, Bamberg, Germany (2019).

Visitor centres in UNESCO Designated sites: challenges and potentialities - 1st regional workshop for Europe on the role of Visitor Centres in UNESCO designated sites, Palermo, Italy (2018).

Reports

Working with Communities

Report of the 3rd regional workshop for Europe, Ercolano, Italy, 2021

Interpretation of Heritage and Education for Sustainable Development:

Report of the 2nd regional workshop for Europe, Bamberg, Germany, 2019

Visitor centres in UNESCO Designated sites: challenges and potentialities:

Report of the 1st regional workshop for Europe, Palermo, Italy, 2018