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Unformatted text preview: ISSN 1352-7258 print; ISSN 1470-3610 online/02/020137-15 2002 Taylor & Francis Ltd DOI: 10.1080/13527250220143922 International Journal of Heritage Studies , Vol. 8, No. 2, 2002, pp. 137 151 A Critical Evaluation of the Global Accolade: the significance of World Heritage Site status for Maritime Greenwich Melanie Smith Abstract World Heritage Site (WHS) status is becoming a highly valued accolade in both developed and developing countries alike. The diversification and expansion of the World Heritage List has led to a more inclusive and representative approach to both designation and inscription. Although this could be perceived as a positive development, questions should still be raised about the meaning and significance of WHS status given the apparently indefinite expansion of the List. The paper will firstly examine the motivations, which appear to underpin the quest for WHS status in an international context, before proceeding to an analysis of Maritime Greenwich, which was inscribed on the List in 1997. Although it is acknowledged that generalisations about the significance of this global accolade are not always useful, the chosen case study exemplifies some of the generic impacts that WHS status can bring in its wake, particularly in historic towns. Key words: World Heritage Site; Greenwich; Conservation; Tourism; Visitor Management; Marketing Global accolades deter despoilation and lend sanctuary to rare legacies. 1 The quest for World Heritage Site (WHS) status appears to be growing, as both developed and developing nations compete for the acquisition of this much-coveted global accolade. This is partly a consequence of the shift in World Heritage emphasis over the past decade towards a less Eurocentric and more inclusive approach to inscription, which has opened the field to a broader range of sites. This is arguably a welcome development in this post-modern era of global diversity. However, questions should perhaps be raised about the apparently indefinite expansion of the World Heritage List, and the subsequent meaning and significance of WHS status. The principal aim of this paper is, therefore, to address these issues. 1. D. Lowenthal, The heritage crusade and the spoils of history , Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998, p. 228. 138 Melanie Smith To generalise about the perceived impacts of inscription is clearly difficult given the diversity of sites, and the complex range of geographical, political, social and cultural factors that can influence their management. Nevertheless, there are a number of generic impacts that are common to all WHSs. These include some of the practical, material and symbolic advantages that can be gained from inscription, such as political and financial support, improved conservation and visitor management, and enhancement of destination image. Conversely, sites are prone to suffer from the more negative impacts of increased visitation and commodification. Hence, the conferring of WHS status could...
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