Cultural heritage as a driver of economic growth and social inclusion
Whilst cultural heritage has been defined as something inherited from the past, it is in many ways a contemporary and “living” cultural resource in Europe. Both the preservation and valorisation of cultural heritage open up considerable opportunities for local and regional development. Hosting heritage sites and effectively managing them has proved to be a strategic asset which contributes to smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Cultural heritage can also play a strategic role in helping cities and regions improve their attractiveness, and it contributes to strengthen a common European identity while promoting cultural diversity and sense of belonging.
The societal value of cultural heritage
Cultural heritage features an important intrinsic and societal value. In its tangible and intangible manifestations, heritage is crucial for local identity as promoting shared understanding and sense of community with positive impacts on social cohesion. Cultural heritage can play a relevant role in promoting citizens’ participation and heritage-based participatory processes in cities and regions, thus promoting new models of multi-stakeholder governance. Cultural heritage is also particularly relevant when it comes to promote intergenerational dialogue and lifelong learning.
Cultural heritage as a driver of economic growth and vitality
Even though cultural heritage is certainly a European shared resource, it is at the local level that it features the most important development potential. The most recent research and contemporary projects show that the revitalisation of historic areas and the safeguarding of cultural heritage can provide important economic benefits to local production systems, giving new impulse to economic activities and generating locally-rooted jobs. Cultural heritage creates considerable externalities at local level in terms of image and attractiveness. Furthermore, as cultural heritage helps to distinguish from other towns in the global competition, it is a key asset to brand cities and regions and raise their international outlook with the aim of attracting not only visitors, but also talents, businesses and investments.
Cultural heritage as a tool for urban and territorial regeneration
The promotion and valorisation of cultural heritage can be instrumental for the regeneration of areas facing challenges such as de-industrialisation, lack of attractiveness and the shift to the new economy. The rich and varied European heritage features great potential to promote lesser known destinations as well as to develop sustainable cultural tourism.