An Enhanced Sense of Place Framework for The Sustainability of a Heritage Site


Chong, Phooi Kwan and Tan, Siow Kian and Tan, Booi Chen (2022) An Enhanced Sense of Place Framework for The Sustainability of a Heritage Site. In: Postgraduate Social Science Colloquium 2022, 1 - 2 June 2022, Online.

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Background - The convention concerning the protection of World Natural and Cultural Heritage was adopted in 1972 (UNESCO, 1972), and July 2021, a total of one thousand one hundred and fifty-four properties from one hundred and sixty-seven Member States have been listed in the World Heritage List, and there are another one thousand seven hundred and twenty-nine properties on Tentative Lists (UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 2022). Not only that, every year, many are submitting the natural, cultural or mixed properties to the World Heritage Committee (WHC). WHS can be seen as an icon and is continually influencing the current values (ICOMOS., 1993). Although the purpose of World Heritage List is to recognize, and preserve the WHS with global value, these sites are gradually used as a tool for promoting the tourism. These informational and promotional strategies used by the host country and the destination marketing organizations, are able to attract many visitors, and hence, also increase the international visibility of a destination (Drost, 1996). The sustainability of a WHS has been challenged as tourism-focused development brings a lot of problems. For instance, gentrification forces local inhabitants to move out, and local community especially youngsters feel ‘uninvolved’ or disconnected to their own place. A sense of place is important as the lack of sense of place causes people to stay away from their own place. If a heritage site becomes ‘tourist-friendly’ but ‘inhabitant-unfriendly’, this will lead to the unsustainability of a WHS. Studies show that people who has a stronger sense of place will take actions to preserve their place. Nevertheless, how to nurture this sense of place yet to be fully explored. Purpose - The purpose of this research is to study the enhancement of sense of place for the sustainability of a World Heritage Site (WHS). Sense of place is not a new topic in heritage tourism studies, however most studies focus on tourists instead of local people. Nevertheless, how to nurture this sense of place yet to be fully explored. This research studies the elements that contribute to the enhancement of sense of place among locals, and how this sense of place helps in sustaining the cultural heritage as well as the heritage place. Nostalgia, on the other hand, consists of a sentiment or emotion that related to the past, this concept shares some similar elements with sense of place. Nostalgia which express ‘a want for discovering the past’ matched with the context of a heritage site, as many visiting a WHS to search for the past. Both sense of place and nostalgia shared some similar elements of emotion, and both might increase the chances of action-taking (Cox et al., 2015; Farrié et al., 2022; S. K. Tan et al., 2018). Studies show that nostalgia can be triggered to enhance people’s experience and nostalgia can also help in sustaining the heritage tourism. Nevertheless, the relationship between sense of place and nostalgia yet to fully comprehend, and the elements of these triggers remain unknown. Design/methodology/approach - Research design is the aims and focus of the research, and it is defined through a set of research questions (Daengbuppha et al., 2006). The target population for this study including the local residents, traditional craftsmen and traditional business practitioners who stay in the core zone of old towns; teachers and NGO’s tour guides who guide the students to know about their place, as well as local tourists who always visit these two sites. In-depth interviews with semi-structured Postgraduate Social Science Colloquium Proceedings 2022 120 questions, participant and non-participant observations were conducted in George Town and Melaka, two historical sites which have been listed as WHS since 2008. Theoretical sampling was employed. Thirty documents including interview transcripts, field notes, videos, newspaper articles, and book were analysed. Fifty-seven concepts emerged via open coding and later been categorized under twenty subdimensions using axial coding. Findings/Expected Contributions - These sub-dimensions were then categorized under nine dimensions through selective coding. Lastly, these dimensions were categorized under three main themes – triggers of experience, sense of place, and sustainability. A framework illustrated their relationship has been constructed. From a theoretical perspective, this study extends the literature of sense of place by identifying the triggers and how these senses might encourage the sustainability of a WHS. It also goes indepth into the literature of sense of place itself by figuring out the elements of these senses. From a practical perspective, the framework constructed can be used by local authorities, policy-makers, tour guides, local communities and related stakeholders to work together in nurturing local’s sense of place. Research limitations - There are some limitations for this study. First, although the elements of triggers had been identified, the ‘strengths’ of these triggers were not studied. Further studies might need to be conducted. Second, the interviewees approached were locals who stay or visited these heritage towns. Those former residents were not approaching for their opinions regarding the reasons they left their towns. This study has the limitations on lack of journal papers or research to refers most of the tourism management context focus on economy or business aspect instead of preservation aspect nor local inhabitants’ prospective. The limitation of this study included the unclear determination on elements of triggers but just provided a concept of different elements of triggers according to the previous research paper limitation.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: “place attachment”, “sense of place”, “sustainability”, “tourist experience”, “triggers”
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5001-6182 Business > HF5801-6182 Advertising
Divisions: Faculty of Management (FOM)
Depositing User: Ms Suzilawati Abu Samah
Date Deposited: 15 Aug 2022 02:46
Last Modified: 19 Aug 2022 07:49


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