Krakow, Poland hosts the 15th World Congress of the OWHC in June 2019

Since its foundation, World Congresses of the Organization of World Heritage Cities (OWHC) have furthered their evolution through meetings of the OWHC community, which are held every two years on the many topics related to Urban World Heritage.

The next World Congress of the OWHC will be held from June 2 – 5, 2019, in Krakow, Poland. The theme of this 15th OWHC& World Congress is “Heritage and Tourism: Local communities and visitors – sharing responsibilities.”

Tourism is a major economic activity for a majority of the World Heritage cities, however, the massive arrival of visitors in a city sometimes has negative outcomes on its heritage resources and on the local communities that experience the influx on a daily basis.

To mitigate these problems, a more sustainable form of tourism must emerge and take account of the economic, social, and environmental needs of places where tourism is prevalent. The OWHC proposes a shared responsibility between visitors and local communities.

During the 15th OWHC World Congress program, various sub-themes will be discussed:

Communicating Heritage

Depending on the culture of the city, its context and its challenges, a very large number of tools and methods of communication can be developed to sensitize the intended audience to tourism and heritage. The word “communication” is used here in its broadest sense and can, for example, refer to a particular signage for visitors as well as a practical guide for local residents.


With the ever-growing number of tourists in the world, some cities are now confronted with a problem of “overtourism”, due to their strong popularity. However, strategies exist to ensure a better distribution of visitors, on the territory and over time, and thus anticipate and counter the negative effects of this new phenomenon.

Sustainable Tourism and the HUL Approach

The recommendation concerning the Historic Urban Landscape (HUL) is defined by an integrated approach to heritage management and urban development. In a tourist city, the HUL can also provide guidelines to help create an effective strategy to promote sustainable tourism.

Local Communities and Tourism

The recommendations adopted at the 14th World Congress of the OWHC in Gyeongju remind us that local communities have the right to be involved in the conservation and management of heritage, and that they should be consulted about any decisions that could affect them. Because heritage and tourism are intimately linked, it is necessary to think of ways to encourage local communities to participate in the development of their city’s tourism strategies.

Additionally, there will also be a Journalists Workshop, Young Professionals Forum, and thematic site visits.


Click here for more information about the upcoming OWHC World Congress program in Krakow.

Interested in attending the OWHC World Congress program? Join the Global Philadelphia Association (GPA) delegation to Krakow! For individuals interested in representing their organization at the World Congress program, contact GPA’s Executive Director Zabeth Teelucksingh at [email protected] or 215-563-2482 for more information.