Local stakeholders’ perspectives of WHS status: a case study
It is recognized that the World Heritage Site (WHS) status is a strong brand with exceptional quality and excellent reputation that attracts tourists to visit. This study applies and adapts the brand knowledge model to examine local stakeholders’ understanding of the WHS status as a brand. A case study approach was applied and a WHS in China was selected as the case. In total, 13 interviewees from local government, private business owners and residents participated in the study. The study showed that the three local stakeholders were familiar with the WHS status and shared the importance of the WHS status as intended by the WHS program to tourists. However, local stakeholders over emphasized the economic importance of the WHS status, and conservation became a tool to fulfill economic benefits. The results challenged the standpoint of the WHS program and showed that the WHS status was not a strong brand.