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The Nordic World Heritage as a model region for sustainable tourism

About the project

The goal of the project was to motivate and inspire World Heritage site managers, national authorities and national tourism organizations in the Nordic countries to work more strategically with sustainable tourism, and to examine how the UNESCO Sustainable Tourism toolkit is perceived and used by the Nordic World Heritage site managers.

The project wanted to create a general understanding of the various experiences, best practices and challenges that Nordic World Heritage site managers have when it comes to developing and executing strategies for sustainable tourism. As well as facilitate a dialogue across Nordic World Heritage sites and other key stakeholders in the Nordic countries, with the aim of building common competencies and common focus on sustainable tourism in Nordic World Heritage sites.

Project outline

January 2019 to March 2020

The purpose of this project is to understand and address the barriers for working strategically with sustainable tourism at Nordic World Heritage sites. The Nordic region currently has 42 World Heritage properties representing beacons in heritage protection as well as key assets in national tourism promotion. With the increasing growth in tourism to many World Heritage sites and the political attention to its socioeconomic potentials, strengthening the sustainability of tourism and heritage protection at and around World Heritage properties is an on-going challenge across the region.

Partners involved

Nordic Council of Ministers

BARK Rådgivning A/S

The project was initiated by the Nordic World Heritage Association with financial support from the NBM (Nordic Nordic Working Group on Biodiversity). The project was carried out by BARK Rådgivning A/S in close cooperation with the board of the Nordic World Heritage Association.


The project has helped strengthen the mutual inspiration and sharing of knowledge and experiences across the Nordic World Heritage sites and across national and regional tourism and business organizations as well, broadening their scope of reference beyond national borders when looking for inspiration and partners with similar challenges.


The project has supported the Nordic World Heritage community in its continuous effort to become a model region for sustainable tourism, by creating and communicating new knowledge about the barriers and opportunities for developing strategies for sustainable tourism at the Nordic World Heritage sites, and has developed recommendations for how to further this agenda and process at the sites.


More and better strategies for sustainable tourism at the Nordic sites will 1) help preserve the natural and cultural heritage of the World Heritage sites for current and future generations while at the same time 2) make the sites more accessible to a greater diversity of visitors, 3) take into account and engage the local community and 4) support local, economic growth in and around the site.


The challenges of tourism to nature and culture conservation is not limited to World Heritage, and many tourism sites outside the World Heritage community will benefit from how World Heritage sites deal with sustainable tourism and how they put it on the strategic agenda, using them as a beacon of inspiration. The project results have the potential to become a source of inspiration for UNESCO World Heritage sites not only in the Nordic countries but also the rest of the world, offering inspiration and suggestions for how to stress the importance of developing and implementing a sustainable tourism strategy.

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