Tourism, heritage and identity

Principal Investigator(s): Professor Aylin Orbasli


About us

Cultural heritage plays a recognised role in defining cultural identity and place attachment. In its many forms cultural heritage is universally linked to tourism. In the case of many historic towns and districts, heritage is both a tourism attraction and a significant economic sector. The first two decades of the 21st century have been defined by an exponential growth of tourism and an escalation of tourism pressures and conditions of overtourism evident even in places considered to be robust. Following a hiatus during a global pandemic, the coming decades for cultural heritage and tourism include additional challenges including environmental concerns, climate adaptation, changing travel patterns, impacts of climate events and migration, global and local disruptors. 

Building on research spanning 30 years, the purpose of the current research is to evaluate the shifting context of heritage in the city, and to reposition the urban heritage-tourism dialectic in present day socio-political contexts. The research also seeks to identify good practice approaches, management strategies and frameworks that effectively respond to identified and forecast challenges in a socially and environmentally sensitive manner. 

The research considers the commodification of historic quarters as tourism destinations as a new urban construct; the commercial and political re-invention of heritage as a tourism commodity to define local identity and distinctiveness and the contrast provided by the evolving nature of what constitutes historic buildings today and the more fluid, creative and dynamic approaches to regeneration.

Research impact

The outcome of the research will be published as a book.

Past publications

  • Orbaşlı, A. (2018) ‘Urban heritage in the Middle East: heritage, tourism and the shaping of new identities’ in Routledge Handbook on Tourism in the Middle East and North Africa (ed. D. J. Timothy) London & New York, Routledge, 95-105.