The Economic, Social and Environmental Implications of Heritage Tourism: Evidence From Bangladesh

The study aims to evaluate the economic importance of two world heritage sites (WHS), the Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forest in the world and the Shat Gambuj Mosque (SGM), a medieval edifice, located in Bangladesh as tourist destinations. In addition, we explored the sociocultural and environmental externalities that evolved from tourism. The study applied the Travel Cost Method (TCM) to perform the economic valuation of these two heritage sites and adopted Key Informant Interviews (KII) technique to understand the social and environmental externalities. This tridimensional investigation of heritage tourism marks a unique contribution to the field of existing literature. Results reveal a substantial consumer surplus (CS), which is almost five times larger than the current average travel cost. The CS yields an annual economic benefit worth US$ 68.4 million for these two sites. The factors associated with tourists’ travel demand provide evidence that travelling habits along with socioeconomic attributes are crucial determinants of heritage tourism. Although heritage tourism has a positive effect on societal elements, some negative externalities pose threats to the Sundarbans’ natural resources and biodiversity. The resulting tourism value and externalities on society and the environment should be rethought in the site conservation and further flourishment of sustainable heritage tourism.

Authors: Islam, Md. Karimul; Farjana, Fariha; Nasrin, Nishad; Ahmed, Md. Shakil
Type: Journal article
Year: 2023