To reflect on the potential of the Cultural Route heritage category as an instrument for cultural revitalization and community strengthening in highland regions, we analyze an interaction of actors involved in the co-construction of a hiking circuit in northern Chile that succeeded in its heritage-based design but not in its touristic implementation. Based on an in-depth analysis of the socioterritorial context and on participatory action research carried out to design the circuit, we discuss the reasons for the project's failure during the phase of community-based tourism model definition. This leads to broader conclusions on the intersections of current policies on heritage, multiculturalism, and environment, relating to the 2014 inscription of the Qhapaq ñan Andean road system on the World Heritage List. Finally, we highlight 3 lessons: (1) the need to clarify the risk of confusion between cultural revitalization and cultural tourism; (2) the Cultural Route category as a complex and heterogeneous heritage construct that is difficult to apply from global to local scales, and (3) the need to further develop Latin American regulations on heritage.
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