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Value perception of world heritage sites and tourism sustainability matters through content analysis of online communications: The case of Victoria Falls world heritage site

Maria Garbelli (UNESCO Chair in ICT to Develop and Promote Sustainable Tourism in World Heritage Sites, Università della Svizzera Italiana, Lugano, Switzerland and Department of Economics, Quantitative Methods and Business Strategies, Universita degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca, Milan, Italy)
Asta Adukaite (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Chair in ICT to Develop and Promote Sustainable Tourism in World Heritage Sites, Università della Svizzera Italiana, Lugano, Switzerland and webatelier.net, Faculty of Communication Sciences, Università della Svizzera italiana, Lugano, Switzerland)
Lorenzo Cantoni (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Chair in ICT to Develop and Promote Sustainable Tourism in World Heritage Sites, Università della Svizzera Italiana, Lugano, Switzerland)

Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology

ISSN: 1757-9880

Article publication date: 2 October 2017

678

Abstract

Purpose

The debate on tourism sustainability and its contribution to local development has been very active, especially in connection with world heritage sites (WHSs). The analysis conducted was intended to evaluate the role of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in promoting sustainable tourism, stating the relevance given online by local and international operators to the fact a destination was a WHS and to its commitment over sustainability issues. With this aim, the authors aim to take the perspective of a person navigating online to collect information on possible travel to a specific globally recognised WHS: the Victoria Falls.

Design/methodology/approach

In this paper, for its structure, the authors propose the UN World Tourism Organisation book on sustainability (Sustainable Tourism for Development Guidebook, 2013) to define a framework suitable for a content analysis of websites and mobile applications – available to a prospective traveller, interested in visiting the Victoria Falls, one of the most known WHSs in Africa, not directly for a heritage end.

Findings

There are 91 available online resources that have been studied to assess whether the Victoria Falls is an area recognised and protected by UNESCO; the presence of sustainability-related contents; and the importance of information providers covering this topic and sharing with readers. A potential tourist to the Falls is not well informed online about issues related to sustainable tourism; his attention is likely not to be drawn to such issues, at least not explicitly. The results show there is plenty of room to improve the online communication value of an area recognised by UNESCO.

Originality/value

Literature does not offer other studies linking both WHSs and sustainability (and the related issues) to ICTs and adopting the tourist point of view. Using a WHS case, the results give evidence of the lack of a proper online communication, underlying the outstanding value of the area, and the destination’ initiatives towards sustainability. Results suggest how relevant could be for a destination to offer a proper and complete online communication, to educate travellers about the several implications of being a WHS and about a sustainable and responsible behaviour in case they choose to visit it.

Keywords

Citation

Garbelli, M., Adukaite, A. and Cantoni, L. (2017), "Value perception of world heritage sites and tourism sustainability matters through content analysis of online communications: The case of Victoria Falls world heritage site", Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology, Vol. 8 No. 3, pp. 417-431. https://doi.org/10.1108/JHTT-09-2016-0046

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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