Informations and abstract
Keywords: cultural heritage, touristic attractiveness, regional economic growth.
With its extensive values, uniqueness and distinctiveness cultural heritage represents an irreplaceable resource for the territory in which it is located. As well as being able to generate positive influences on local culture, society and environment, cultural heritage can potentially play a role in the local socio-economic development. The most evident and noticeable link between cultural heritage and economic growth is represented by tourism. In fact, local cultural heritage and tourism attractiveness are inextricably related and, at the same time, tourism is a large, relevant and fast-growing economic sector. This paper aims at jointly exploring the relationship between material cultural heritage, tourism and economic development. Starting from the idea that tangible forms of cultural heritage represent critical resources potentially able to contribute to local economic growth through the mediation effect played by the tourism sector, a structural equation model is applied on European regions to figure out whether tourism represents a solid and substantial channel – out of potentially many others – for the functioning of this mechanism. In other words, an econometric model is used to quantitatively demonstrate the existence of an indirect impact of regional cultural heritage endowment on economic development through tourism. Testing the model with different heritage-related variables results in confirming the mediating role of tourism between tangible forms of cultural heritage and economic growth across European regions.