Resolving the conflicts of sustainable world heritage landscapes in cities: Fully open or limited access for visitors?

Xiaoling Zhang, Ling Zhou, Yuzhe Wu*, Martin Skitmore, Zhiping Deng

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)
46 Downloads (Pure)


World Heritage Landscapes (WHLs) are receiving increased attention from researchers, urban planners, managers, and policy makers and many heritage values and resources are becoming irreversibly lost. This phenomenon is especially prominent for WHLs located in cities, where greater development opportunities are involved. Decision making for sustainable urban landscape planning, conservation and management of WHLs often takes place from an economic perspective, especially in developing countries. This, together with the uncertain source of funding to cover WHL operating and maintenance costs, has resulted in many urban managers seeking private sector funding either in the form of visitor access fees or leasing part of the site for high-rental facilities such as five star hotels, clubs and expensive restaurants. For the former, this can result in low-income urban citizens being unable to afford the access fees and hence contradicting the principle of equal access for all; while, for the latter, the principle of open access for all is equally violated. To resolve this conflict, a game model is developed to determine how urban managers should allocate WHL spaces to maximize the combination of economic, social and ecological benefits and cultural values. A case study is provided of the Hangzhou's West Lake Scenic Area, a WHL located at the centre of Hangzhou city, in which several high-rental facilities have recently been closed down by the local authorities due to charges of elitism and misuse of public funds by government officials. The result shows that the best solution is to lease a small space with high rents and leave the remainder of the site to the public. This solution is likely to be applicable only in cities with a strong economy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-100
Number of pages10
JournalHabitat International
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2015
Externally publishedYes


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