Indexed on: 22 Dec '17Published on: 01 Nov '17Published in: Sustainability
Rapid tourism development adversely impacts and negatively transforms World Heritage Sites. This study aimed at examining how tourism growth has impacted the built environment of Luang Prabang, Lao PDR through an empirical approach. Luang Prabang has received a critical warning from World Heritage Committee for the escalating development pressure on its vulnerable landscape. Hence, this study examined two aspects: (1) the spatial pattern of the increase of touristic usage; and (2) the relation between the increase of touristic usage and the significant changes in the built environment. For this, geographical information systems (GIS) are combined with statistical methods such as logistic regression and chi-square test of independence. The results affirmed that the change from other types of usage to touristic usage in existing buildings has a higher chance to occur along riverbank areas than in the middle of the peninsula in the core heritage area. Change to touristic usage is also related with three significant changes in the built environment, namely: (1) change from other types of architecture to Lao traditional architecture; (2) change from modern to traditional roof materials; and (3) change from traditional to modern building materials. This indicates that the increase in touristic usage has contributed to strengthening the heritage elements of the landscape.