The World Heritage Brand and Tourism: An Approach to the Historic Centre of São Luís, Brazil - Heritage Tourism Marketing

Miriam Mota, Manuela Guerreiro, Patrícia Pinto


This study considers the relationship between tourism and historic centres highlighting UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It points out that despite the acronym, WHS (World Heritage Site) was not created with the aim of promoting tourism, it emerged as a highly desired brand with which countries could position themselves in the tourist market. The purpose of this paper is to deepen the discussion of a common vision that world heritage status increases patterns of demand and tourist flow, contextualising the analysis from the reality of a developing country. The empirical reference is the historic centre of São Luís, an island destination in northeast Brazil, whose Portuguese influence in terms of colonial buildings gave it the title of World Heritage Site in 1997. In order to see whether the World Heritage label has had significant influence on the site as a destiny choice, this research develops an analysis of tourist flows in the years 2010 and 2015 that is based on secondary data. It investigates the origin, motivation and influence of national and international travel that occurred in these periods. The results indicate that despite the tag, there were no remarkable changes in variables. These data are especially relevant when discussing marketing issues, the promotion of destinations linked to major brands, and their potential for attracting tourist flows.


Historic Centres; Tourism; Development; Marketing; World Heritage

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