This article was written at the request of Serge Michaïlof as a chapter to feature in his book “A quoi sert d’aider le Sud?” (What’s the point of helping the South?), published in 2006 by Economica, Paris. Serge was working for the AFD as operations director at that time and knew that that I had been very much involved in heritage, tourism and their effects on economy. He asked me to write a summary of my thoughts on these subjects and an analysis of the lessons learned from the various ‘heritage’ projects we had led with my associates from the urban development division. The piece begins with a short overview of the origins of the notion of heritage and the role that it could play in urban development strategies and local economy support. The article is therefore based on examples of projects such as Siem Reap close to the temple of Angkor, of Luang Prabang, the former royal capital of Laos, of four regional capitals of Lebanon and the reorganization of Tunisia’s tourism strategy, in particular regarding Kairouan and its historic cities.