The level of societal reproduction as a predictor of visitation: lessons from World Heritage Sites in the United States
Since the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) adopted the Convention Concerning the Protection of World Natural and Cultural Heritage, commonly referred to as the World Heritage Convention (UNESCO 1972), 911 sites around the globe have been designated as World Heritage Sites (WHSs). Although the jury is out on whether there is a link between inscription as a World Heritage Site and increased visitation (Buckley 2004; Hall and Piggin 2001), there is a rising call for the management of World Heritage Sites (Leask and Fyall 2006: xxii) due in large part to the detrimental effects of over-visitation at some sites (du Cros 2006; du Cros 2008; World Tourism Organization 2005). Exceeding the carrying capacity of certain WHSs in highpopulated or high-visited countries is seen as a primary threat (ICOMOS 1993). Visitation levels and the sustainability of heritage sites have been linked, and WHS designation has been viewed as the ‘catalyst to rapid tourism development via increased publicity of those destination areas’ (Li et al. 2008: 308).