This work engages the current discourse on the preservation and safeguarding of cultural heritage and explores how these measures can function as factors for a sustainable economic development. It discusses the different concepts of cultural heritage and shows, in which way these have evolved in the recent past. Also it indicates how the meanings and values of cultural heritage form. In this context the work outlines the specific values cultural heritage can have and examines how such cultural and economic values can be assessed. Furthermore it reveals why cultural heritage is also crucial for the formation, functioning and development of human collectives, depicting the impacts its preservation and safeguarding can have. Here it illustrates how these measures could promote sustainable economic development. Additionally the work features the study 'Patrimonio Cultural', which was conducted in Cuenca, Ecuador in 2010. This study identifies peolple?s perceptions of the changes the city has experienced in the wake of its listing as World Cultural Heritage by UNESCO, thus providing us with useful knowledge of what such events can cause in communities.