Small but perfectly (in)formed? Sustainable development of small heritage sites in Iran

Masood Khodadadi*, Fereshteh Pezeshki, Hugh O'Donnell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
12 Downloads (Pure)


World Heritage sites have been widely studied due to their position in attracting tourists. However, while small heritage sites do not match the popularity of World Heritage Sites, they can have many socio-economic benefits for local communities and help to transfer knowledge of the past to the next generation. Despite these potentials, small heritage sites have been relatively overlooked by researchers. This study, for the first time, conceptualizes the notion of small heritage site and examines the barriers to sustainable tourism development of small heritage sites in the historic city of Shiraz in Iran focusing on the views of various stakeholders and analyzing their responses to the challenges they face. Using a social constructionist frame and thematic analysis, data from interviews with 15 heritage tourism stakeholders – selected through purposive sampling – were analyzed and challenges were categorized into six themes of policy and planning, knowledge, resources, desire, marketing activities and awareness. The results revealed that the themes of policy and planning were the most commonly referred to issues by the participants. Given the scarcity of studies conducted in the area of small heritage sites, the findings of this study provide constructive suggestions for sustainable heritage tourism development in Iran and elsewhere.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-90
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Heritage Tourism
Issue number1
Early online date3 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2022


  • cultural heritage
  • small heritage sites
  • sustainable tourism development
  • stakeholder theory
  • Iran tourism
  • thematic analysis


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