Leveraging the World Heritage City Designation to Build New Business Opportunities

Article by Nikia Brown, World Heritage Coordinator

On Wednesday, April 19, Temple University’s School of Sport, Tourism, and Hospitality Management and Fox CIBER, in partnership with Global Philadelphia Association, hosted a program to discuss the impact of World Heritage City status on the hospitality and tourism industry. Zabeth Teelucksingh, Executive Director of Global Philadelphia Association, opened the program with a comprehensive report on the various projects underway in Philadelphia's World Heritage City Strategic Plan. During her presentation, she pointed to key efforts that aid in increasing the value and awareness of the City's designation at home and abroad. Some examples include participation in international activities of the Organization of World Heritage Cities (OWHC), shaping youth into globally informed citizens through our World Heritage Education Programs, and signage initiatives such as the World Heritage banners hanging in the Philadelphia International Airport.

Following Zabeth’s report, Quebec City Government and Advisor for the OWHC, Julie Lemieux, shared best practices on her experience leveraging Quebec's historical and cultural heritage to generate greater cultural and economic opportunities in their Region. Quebec City is home to four World Heritage Sites including the UNESCO designated Old Quebec. The designation has generated 100 million dollars in tourist revenue making Heritage the 5 largest industry in the private sector. Recently, a highly rated Korean drama, “Dokkaebi”, was partly filmed in Quebec due to its World Heritage affiliation, beautiful architecture, and international reputation. According to Julie, the city has seen many achievements over the past 10 years. To better engage local community members, the City initiated public dialogues in Old Quebec creating a safe and innovative space for residents to discuss diverse topics of interest. Churches have been repurposed into public libraries which are used for heritage interpretation sites, workshops on intangible heritage, and exhibitions. Additionally, Julie boasted of several digital initiatives such as Discover Quebec that assist and inform tourists as they travel through the city. Towards the end of her presentation, Julie offered her City’s unique perspective on the notion of heritage: "A reflection of our identity, Heritage is defined as all goods, material or immaterial, natural or cultural, inherited from the Past and shaped by the Present, that we recognize, protect, conserve, enhance, make ours, continue to enrich and transmit."

At the end of the program, Zabeth and Julie discussed the many similarities extant between Philadelphia and Quebec as well as the many opportunities to co-market and position each city’s historical, yet international profile. Moving forward, the two cities will work closely with each other to strengthen their World Heritage City brand to attract more international visitors and businesses. Stay tuned as more information about this budding strategic partnership will be revealed in the near future.