Cities with valuable historic cores and heritage assets must retain their uniqueness in the face of rapid urbanisation to modernise. These cities can support a higher level of economic activity, sometimes significantly, but they risk losing their distinctive characteristics and becoming less vibrant and livable. Since heritage is a significant driver of economic expansion and prosperity, it is considered an intricate and multi-layered area with numerous monetary exercises reliant and implanted inside it, drawing the historic environment intrinsically linked to economic activity. The relationship between heritage and the economy looks at the financial aspects of legacy protection, presenting proof of the various ways to improve the public economy and nearby economies. As “The Economics of Uniqueness” by Licciardi mentions, the past can become a foundation for the future, providing crucially needed continuity, stability, and economic benefits.

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Dia de Mercado, Spain_©Luciti

The Value of Heritage | Heritage Preservation

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The Value of Heritage_©Mourato and Massanti 2002

Heritage can be viewed as an economic asset, with capital theory as the theoretical foundation. Types of capital that economists typically distinguish include physical or manufactured capital, social capital, human capital and natural capital. The idea of capital has then reached out into the field of culture and heritage, capturing how heritage investment, in conjunction with other inputs, contributes to the production of additional cultural goods and services like creating jobs and the well-being of local communities. It also enables the recognition of the distinctive characteristics of certain cultural goods as capital assets. “We need communities to take responsibility for their towns and to compete for people to live, work, play and visit, based on their heritage…” (Bill Grimsey, 2020).

Different aspects of heritage valuation are addressed using five different methods of valuation: compensation, social cost-benefit analysis, stated preference, travel cost and hedonic price. Compensation aims to assess the costs and benefits of altering a heritage asset’s availability or quality. The social cost-benefit analysis identifies the advantages of an investment with significant spillover effects. Stated preference is based on behavioural economics and aims to determine what people are willing to pay or accept when a public good becomes unavailable. Travel cost is the calculation of a visitor’s financial sacrifice to visit a culturally significant location constrained by attribution and opportunity cost. Lastly, the hedonic price method, which is used a lot in urban economics, is a better way to evaluate investments related to heritage.

Maintaining Heritage Values

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Heritage Management_ ©Joks Janssen

Heritage has value for the community, as the public frequently owns landmarks. The vast majority of other heritage assets, such as places with significant cultural value in central locations, are owned by private parties. Most nations have recognisable proof for legacy, known as posting or assignment. A combination of regulations and incentives is an effective strategy for safeguarding this heritage value. In most cases, this strategy is accompanied by rules that may restrict what property owners can do with their properties, for example, the prohibition of demolishing, the use of particular materials and a separate approval process for building permits. 

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Traditional Conservation Decision-Making Sequence_©Licciardi 2012

Moreover, the community’s aspirations about preserving connections with history as a part of the city’s or country’s national identity have traditionally been the driving force behind the identification and preservation of heritage. Heritage conservation can be costly for property owners as the cost might lie in reestablishing and opening doors in elective utilisation of the site. In return, the travel industry can give a monetary motivation to save that legacy, allowing the opportunity to alter community perceptions of how heritage locations should be treated as an additional advantage of heritage tourism. Hence, both the public and private values of heritage can be enhanced and leveraged for the creation of jobs and integrated conservation through a balanced combination of regulation and incentives, as well as through tourism.


Analysis to determine heritage sites_©Historic England

It is necessary to balance conserving and promoting compatible and sustainable reuse to effectively manage projects involving heritage, historic city cores, and underutilised land. Managing a level of change that is acceptable (adaptive reuse). To meet such an all-encompassing goal, an agreement should be reached among the partners on the overall load of the different values and the compromises among preservation and comprehensive turn of events. 

Rules and regulations restricting activities are only one of the ways to preserve historic city cores and heritage assets. Impetuses are likewise fundamental for accomplishing incorporated protection. A wide range of policies and tools are included in incentives, which can be regulatory or non-regulatory. Special limits on plot ratios or zonings, bonus floor area, and waivers of minimum standards to facilitate adaptive reuse are examples of conservation area-based regulatory incentives. A market for conservation has been established through the use of transferable development rights in other instances. Contributions and waivers of consent fees are two examples of additional regulatory measures. Non-regulatory incentives, on the other hand, include reductions in mortgage interest rates, tax relief, and heritage. Grants and loans. Cities have also successfully utilised insurance rebates, public purchases and revolving acquisitions, events, and promotions.


  1. Aitchison, K. (2018) “Cultural Heritage in Times of Economic Crisis,” Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology, pp. 1–5. Available at:
  2. Dorpalen, B. (2020) Heritage and the Economy 2020. rep. Historic England, pp. 1–33.
  3. Licciardi, G. and Amirtahmasebi, R. (2012) The Economics of Uniqueness: Investing in Historic City Cores and Cultural Heritage Assets for Sustainable Development. Washington, DC: The World Bank.
  4. Mergos, G. and Patsavos, N. (2016) Cultural Heritage as Economic Value: Economic Benefits, Social Opportunities, and Challenges of Cultural Heritage for Sustainable Development . rep. Athens, Kastri: InHerIt, pp. 1–292.
  5. Ottone, E. (2020) In moments of crisis, people need culture, UNESCO World Heritage Convention. UNESCO. Available at: (Accessed: April 12, 2023).
  6. Taj, A. (2012) The Economics of Uniqueness: Embracing cultural heritage, The World Bank. The World Bank. Available at: (Accessed: April 12, 2023). 

Audrey Kianjaya is a graduate architect and urban planner who is currently pursuing a career as an architectural researcher and writer. She aspires to make a positive impact through her writing and design, earning her project the title of “People’s Choice” from the Regen Dining Competition held in 2020.