Place Branding and Public Diplomacy

, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 276–292 | Cite as

Branded as a World Heritage city: The politics afterwards

  • Shevren Lai
  • Can-Seng Ooi
Original Article


The UNESCO World Heritage (WH) site recognition assures cultural value and quality by branding the place as highly worthy of conservation and visit. The WH brand offers many advantages, especially in tourism development and destination marketing. The process of getting recognition is lengthy, and well documented. This study, however, moves beyond place marketing and into the politics of interpretation and presentation of the WH brand after the site is recognized. The empirical cases are George Town and Melaka in Malaysia. This study critically examines relationships between two major stakeholder groups, namely, the Malaysian federal government and the local state-level governments. By doing so, the article shows how the conflicting demands of stakeholders, and also various contested visions, result in multiple interpretations of how these heritage cities should be developed. This article argues that contestation in interpreting and recognizing the WH brand is part of national political posturing. Such political posturing affects local communities and transmits particular ideological messages in internationally sanctioned heritage. This study contributes to the scant research on the politics between different stakeholder groups and interpretation of the WH brand.


World Heritage stakeholders Malaysia Melaka George Town 


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shevren Lai
    • 1
  • Can-Seng Ooi
  1. 1.Copenhagen Business School, Center for Leisure and Culture ServiceFrederiksbergDenmark

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