Message from the
Mayor of Krakow

Four decades ago, in 1978, the historic treasures of Krakow’s old town along with Wieliczka Salt Mine found themselves among the first sites to be inscribed on the World Cultural and Natural Heritage List. Thus, ancient masterpieces created by outstanding artists and architects were recognized as common heritage of utmost universal value for all of mankind.

Krakow; to discover the cradle of Polish culture and experience its special atmosphere; to become tourists in one of Poland’s most popular destinations.

Heritage and tourism will be the focus of the 15th World Congress of the Organization of World Heritage Cities to be held in Krakow on June 2nd to 5th 2019. I am convinced that our city is an excellent place for an international debate on the issue. Krakow is a top destination attracting cultural, business and gourmet tourists as well as pilgrims. The growing tourist industry is rooted in the labor, creativity and enterprising spirit of the local people. The sustainability of further growth, ensuring comfort to both residents and tourists, is conditioned upon the cooperation of the local authorities, the tourism industry and the inhabitants. Consequently, at the 15th Congress we will continue and expand the discussion initiated in Gyeongju where the theme was: Heritage & Community: tools to Engage the Local Communities.

I hope that the 15th World Congress of the OWHC in Krakow will be an excellent platform for interesting discussions, as well as exchanges of experiences and perspectives between representatives of member cities from around the world. I do believe the event will also generate a debate on challenges faced by historical cities in tourism management, at the same time offering the participants an opportunity of an unforgettable encounter with Krakow, its people and heritage.

I look forward to welcoming you to Krakow!

Jacek Majchrowski
Mayor of Krakow


Message from the President
of the owhc and Mayor of Québec

How does one reconcile the preservation of our heritage treasures with the development of our tourist attractions? What are the best means to ensure the right balance between the needs of our visitors and those of our citizens?

In an era of Airbnb and the democratization of international tourism, heritage cities are increasingly faced with issues that require consultation and cooperation.

The next congress of the Organization of World Heritage Cities (OWHC) is an ideal occasion to pool the energy, expertise and creativity that characterize owhc members. I am convinced that this important event will allow us to update our practices in line with our mission to preserve and showcase the valuable legacy of our ancestors.

It is with great enthusiasm that I invite you to participate in large numbers in the 15th World Congress of the OWHC to be held in the magnificent city of Krakow in 2019. Together, we will be able to meet the challenge of combining our past with the present and future so that now, more than ever, our heritage may become a source of identity, pride and inspiration for our communities.

Régis Labeaume
President of the OWHC and Mayor of Québec


Message of the Secretary General

It is with great pleasure that we invite you to attend the 15th World Congress of the OWHC.

This new edition of the Congress will focus on tourism through the theme Heritage and Tourism: Local Communities and Visitors – Sharing Responsibilities. A truly relevant subject in a context where the number of visitors around the world has grown dramatically! According to the World Tourism Organization, there will be 1.8 billion international tourist arrivals worldwide in 2030. There were 682 million at the turn of the millennium. 

The issue is even more important for World Heritage Cities, since they are among the most popular tourist destinations on the planet. However, tourist activity brings enormous pressure to bear on these cities and their communities, which is becoming increasing difficult to deal with. In port cities, this pressure is often compounded by the arrival of thousands of cruise passengers every day during the high season.

In its more recent congresses, the OWHC embraced several issues of concern to world heritage cities, from resilience and sustainable development, to the economy and local community engagement. It is high time once again to reflect on the issue of tourism addressed by the OWHC during its World Congress in Évora in 1997.

This new edition of the World Congress has great promise, and the city of Krakow has spared no effort in organizing a meeting with a wealth of content and activities. The list of speakers at the Scientific Symposium is a clear example: Franscesc Muñoz, Doug Lansky, David Fleming, Jyoti Hosagrahar, Ko Koens and Shaikha Mai Bint Mohammed Al Khalifa. Their contributions will be followed by the presentation of case studies submitted by city members of the OWHC, with the ultimate objective of promoting best practices in heritage and tourism in World Heritage Cities.

As in the past, parallel events will also be offered to participants, including the Journalists Workshop and the Young Professionals Forum. These will be added to the main program that includes the Mayors and Experts Workshops, regional meetings and the awards ceremonies (Jean-Paul-L’Allier Prize for Heritage and the International Video Production Competition).

Finally, and as always, the General Assembly of the OWHC will be one of the high points of the Congress. It provides a unique opportunity for member cities to become involved in the selection of the broad guidelines that will drive work at the OWHC during the next two years.

All this is made possible through the unwavering support of Jacek Majchrowski, the Mayor of Krakow, and the Steering Committee headed by Professor Jacek Purchla (President of the Polish National Commission for UNESCO) with the cooperation of Peter Debrine (UNESCO World Heritage Centre), Magdalena Doksa-Tverberg (Deputy-director of the Department of Culture and National Heritage, City of Krakow), Robert Piaskowski (Deputy-director of the Krakow Festival Office), Agata Mierzynska (Senior Foreign Relations Officer, City of Krakow) and all their valued partners.

Denis Ricard
Secretary General of the Organization of World Heritage Cities