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Cultural Heritage and Tourism: An Introduction

Cultural Heritage and Tourism: An Introduction

by Dallen J. Timothy
One of the most salient forms of modern-day tourism is based on the heritage of humankind. The majority of all global travel entails some element of the cultural past, as hundreds of millions of people visit cultural attractions, heritage festivals, and historic places each year. The book delves into this vast form of tourism by providing a comprehensive examination


One of the most salient forms of modern-day tourism is based on the heritage of humankind. The majority of all global travel entails some element of the cultural past, as hundreds of millions of people visit cultural attractions, heritage festivals, and historic places each year. The book delves into this vast form of tourism by providing a comprehensive examination of its issues, current debates, concepts and practices. It looks at the social, physical and economic impacts, which cause destinations, site managers and interpreters to consider not only how to plan and manage resources but also how to portray the past in ways that are acceptable, accurate, accessible and politically relevant. In the process, however, the depth of heritage politics, the authenticity and inauthenticity of place and experience, and the urgent need to protect living and built cultures are exposed. The book explores these and many other current issues surrounding the management of cultural resources for tourism. In order to help students relate concepts to real-world situations it combines theory and practice, is student learning oriented, is written accessibly for all readers and is empirically rich.

Editorial Reviews

Professor David Airey
This book on cultural heritage and tourism is an important contribution. It sets out the concepts and issues and provides plenty of examples from around the world. In doing so it becomes the key starting point for the study of what it describes as the "most encompassing type of tourism yet to be identified."

Professor Alan Fyall
The extensive experience, knowledge and overriding passion of the author on the subject of cultural heritage and tourism are evident in each and every chapter of this highly valuable text. The ease with which the reader can navigate the material is testament to the expertise and engaging manner of the author with the text providing a highly informative, thought-provoking and contemporary read for students, academics and practitioners in the field. Set within a very logical and coherent structure, the text challenges the reader to engage with the material with the copious supply of examples, case material, review questions, web links and reading lists delivering a valuable resource to those that share the author's zeal for the subject.

Prof Bruce Prideaux
This refreshingly new text combines the author's passion for heritage with the latest research in the area to produce a comprehensive and engaging publication. Readers are offered a rich menu of scholarly analysis, comprehensive listing of heritage sites and an extensive catalogue of references. This book can only be described as a must use text for heritage studies.

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Read an Excerpt

Cultural Heritage and Tourism

An Introduction

By Dallen J. Timothy

Multilingual Matters Ltd

Copyright © 2011 Dallen J. Timothy
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-84541-226-5



After reading this chapter, you should be able to:

1. Identify some of the earliest manifestations of heritage tourism.

2. Understand the meaning of heritage and what it entails.

3. Understand the characteristics of cultural tourism and heritage tourism.

4. Recognize the commonalities between cultural and heritage tourism.

5. Be familiar with tangible and intangible elements of culture.

6. Be aware of the difference between serious and casual cultural heritage tourists.


Since the beginnings of human history, people have journeyed away from home for a multitude of reasons. The world has undergone many phases of human development, including long-distance travel. One of the earliest forms of travel was hunters following their prey and trading with other hunters and gatherers nearby. Transhumance, or the seasonal migration of pastoral peoples with their herds, was an early demonstration of longer-distance travel away from the village or family. Eventually, trade in foodstuffs, furs and other animal products, precious metals, spices, textiles and other important commodities led merchants further afield in search of consumer items and profits. In Asia, religious devotion to early forms of Hinduism and Buddhism was manifested in pilgrimages long before the Christian pilgrimage movement to the Holy Land began during the first few centuries after Christ. The widespread Christian pilgrimage phenomenon began shortly after the death of Jesus and was facilitated by the already well developed shipping routes of the Mediterranean and the expansive Roman highway system. During the medieval period, global explorations and colonization began, leading to yet more areas of the globe being 'discovered' by outsiders.

All human eras have contributed to the common understanding we have today of travel and tourism. For example, roads and highways were developed along ancient paths and trade routes. Road signs and roadside inns grew along important routes. And the notion of different types of tourism began early on with pilgrimage, educational travel, and cultural tourism already being well established by the 15th century. Travel for strictly leisure or pleasure purposes began in the post-industrial era of the 20th century, and contemporary patterns of human mobility are marked by increasing levels of independent travel, more off-the-beaten-path destinations, and a wider variety of experiences.

Today, hundreds of millions of people travel each year in search of pleasure, relaxation, enjoyment, education, love, curiosity, and a whole range of other internal motives. The cultural heritage of humankind is one of the most important resources upon which travel is based and appeals to many underlying motives for travel, including those noted above. The experiences of tourists and the heritage resources they utilize are the focus of this book. This chapter provides an initial understanding of the relationships between cultural heritage and tourism, establishes a set of definitions and concepts that helps readers understand better the discussions in subsequent chapters, and lays out the contents of the book as a valuable resource for students and scholars interested in cultural and heritage tourism.


As already noted, one of the earliest forms of heritage tourism was pilgrimage. Early pilgrims – people who travel in search of spiritual experiences or for religious reasons – visited places that were important from religious or spiritual perspectives. Burial sites of famous leaders, locations where miracles occurred, or places of mystical importance, believed to have healing powers, were all seen as salient destinations for religious travelers. The earliest pilgrims, therefore, visited places of spiritual heritage importance, many with global appeal.

Biblical and other ancient accounts provide evidence of the noble classes traveling to view sites that were already old. The seven wonders of the ancient world were popular attractions in the ancient days of the Greek and Roman empires. The earliest Greek guide books were known to have included reviews of the Pyramids of Giza, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, the Colossus of Rhodes, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, the Mausoleum of Maussollos at Halicarnassus, and the Ishtar Gate (later the Lighthouse of Alexandria replaced Ishtar Gate on the list of Seven Wonders), which were all well-known attractions at the time but only within reach of merchants, traders, soldiers and the aristocracy.

The Grand Tour is another important historical phase of heritage tourism. From the 1600s until the mid-1800s, it was common for young men of social and financial means in Europe to travel with tutors and other entourage to the classical art cities and architectural wonders of Italy, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands. They often traveled for months or years at a time with the purpose of becoming cultured nobility. Learning languages, art, history, and architecture was among the main objectives. Their journeys took them to Paris, Rome, Venice, Florence and other historic cities known for their architectural wonders and great works of art. The Grand Tour is among the earliest known examples of pre-packaged and mass-produced cultural tours of Europe.

Perhaps the best-known modern origins of heritage tourism were the experiences of Thomas Cook, the father of modern travel agents, tour operators, and group tours. Cook lived in England and began his career as a travel agent and tour operator in 1841, when he arranged a 15km train trip for more than 500 people to attend a special event in England. Five years later he led a group of 350 English people on a tour of Scotland. In the 1860s he began offering ship- and train-based tours of Europe, Egypt, Palestine and the USA, the contents of which were largely cultural heritage-oriented. The Great Pyramids were a major selling point of Cook's Egyptian tour, and the American itineraries included Civil War battlefields and important historic sites in New York and Washington.

Today, heritage properties and living cultures are among the most popular attractions everywhere. Few countries have tourism industries devoid of cultural heritage products. Even the most ardent sun, sea and sand destinations (e.g. some Caribbean and Pacific islands) also offer elements of cultural heritage for tourist consumption. Nearly all package tours include heritage sites, and cultural areas are among the most prized destinations among independent travelers as well. It is safe to assume that a majority of tourist attractions and destinations in the world today are based on elements of cultural heritage.


Heritage scholars agree on one basic concept that defines heritage – it is what we inherit from the past and use in the present day. Simply stated, history is the past, whereas heritage is the modern-day use of the past for tourism and other purposes (e.g. education and community development). In broad terms this includes both natural and cultural heritage. Natural heritage includes naturally-occurring phenomena, such as canyons, rain forests, lakes, rivers, glaciers, mountains, deserts and coastlines. Cultural heritage, on the other hand, is the past created by humankind and its various manifestations. While natural heritage is an important part of tourism, particularly in the growing realm of nature-based tourism, this book is concerned with the human past as a tourism resource.

The cultural heritage we use today includes both tangible and intangible elements. It comes in the form of material objects such as buildings, rural landscapes and villages, cities, art collections, artifacts in museums, historic gardens, handicrafts and antiques, but it also encompasses non-material elements of culture, including music, dance, beliefs, social mores, ceremonies, rituals and folklore. All of these are important components of heritage that are used for tourism and other purposes.

Heritage tourism: What is it?

Some people define heritage tourism simply as people visiting heritage places or viewing historical resources. Others suggest that a personal connection to the objects or placesbeing viewed is what defines heritage tourism. Even more specifically, some observers argue that heritage tourism is based on visits by people who want to learn something new or enhance their lives in some way. All of these perspectives are important elements of heritage tourism, but it is not as simple as any one of these definitions alone. In fact there are many definitions of heritage tourism, but they all include elements of the human past as a resource, and entail a variety of motives on the part of the tourists.

For the purposes of this book, heritage tourism refers to travelers seeing or experiencing built heritage, living culture or contemporary arts. Its resources are tangible and intangible and are found in both rural and urban settings. Visits are motivated by a desire to enhance one's own cultural self, to learn something new, to spend time with friends and family, to satisfy one's curiosity or simply to use up excess time. In short, heritage tourism encompasses a multitude of motives, resources and experiences and is different for every individual and every place visited.

It is worth noting, however, that a heritage tourist is somewhat more difficult to define because he or she may have very little interest in cultural heritage, or conversely a great deal of interest. One effective way of viewing heritage visitors is their level of interest in elements of the past. Stebbins (1996) noted that serious cultural tourists are people who visit heritage places or cultural events because it is their hobby; they want to learn something new or expand their personal skills, and they are enthusiastic about heritage. For serious heritage tourists, the visit is more than a laid-back stopover at a castle or a happenstance run-in with an art museum. Instead, these opportunities are desired and actively pursued. Casual heritage tourists, on the other hand, are people who do not necessarily plan to visit a heritage site or museum while on vacation but decide to attend once they discover it, while in the destination for other purposes. They might be curious about the attraction but are not active seekers of heritage places and cultural experiences. In some cases, they might even have to be convinced to visit a historic environment or cultural setting by relatives or friends in the destination who drag them along. Between these two extremes lie many levels of devotion as regards culture and heritage, but what is important to note for this discussion is that people do in fact visit heritage places and participate in cultural displays for a variety of reasons, with a wide range of outcomes. Regardless of an individual's level of interest in visiting cultural attractions, his/her visits are part of the larger whole of heritage tourism.

Cultural tourism: What is it?

The terms 'cultural tourism' and 'heritage tourism' are often used in the industry and in scholarly writing as being two separate but related, or overlapping, phenomena (see Figure 1.1). Cultural tourism is sometimes used to refer to people visiting or participating in living cultures, contemporary art and music or other elements of modern culture. Some observers suggest that heritage tourism is based upon antiquated relics; it tends to occur in rural areas and is more place-bound, while cultural tourism is dominant in urban areas and is less place-bound, so that the 'content is the same while the context is different' (National Trust for Historic Preservation, 2010). Still other scholars have suggested that cultural tourism is more about people trying to edify their cultural selves and satisfy their cultural needs by visiting places and observing built heritage, arts, performances, and living cultures.

Interestingly, none of these elements differs significantly from the meaning of heritage tourism. Casual observers or serious hobbyists 'consuming' living and built culture in rural or urban contexts and their own personal experiences, including education and cultural edification, are an important part of the heritage tourism experience (see Figure 1.2). Even contemporary art and living culture are important constituents of heritage, because they are based upon past (recent or distant) creative and social values and because they become historical while they are being produced. Some of the world's premier performing arts centers, such as the Sydney Opera House and the Grand Ole Opry, have become important heritage sites in their own right, and the performances that take place within them are an essential part of the world's intangible artistic heritage. The same is true of art museums and galleries such as the Louvre, the Hermitage and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Assuming that heritage is based solely on remnants of a distant past illustrates a misunderstanding of cultural resources. Even artifacts and artworks created during the past decade should be considered important cultural heritage resources just as a temple built a millennium ago should be.

Cultural heritage tourism

In summary, then, cultural heritage tourism encompasses built patrimony, living lifestyles, ancient artifacts and modern art and culture. While some authors prefer to draw distinctions between cultural tourism and heritage tourism based on people's desires or the currency of resources, the differences, if they exist at all, are rather subtle, and both terms will be used interchangeably throughout this book.


This book is divided into two primary sections. In addition to this brief introduction, the first section includes 12 chapters that cover general concepts and issues related to heritage tourism, many of which are scholarly or theoretical questions, but it also includes management implications for heritage sites and cultural destinations. In the next eight chapters, the second section examines several subtypes of heritage tourism and the ways in which many of the concepts discussed in the first section manifest in real life.

Chapters 2 and 3 examine the importance of demand for, and supply of, heritage tourism products and experiences. The demand chapter (Chapter 2) looks at the growth in global demand for tourism, and cultural tourism in particular. It points out some of the most influential demand shifters, or forces that alter demand for heritage, and details the primary markets for cultural products, including tourist and non-tourist cohorts. Finally, this chapter considers heritage consumers' socioeconomic, demographic, and geographic characteristics and their experiences while visiting historic sites. The supply chapter (Chapter 3) delves into the wide range of resources and support services that are utilized in the cultural tourism system, including attractions, heritage transportation, shops and heritage lodging. Related to this, the implications of spatial perspectives related to scale, form and function, contextual setting (urban and rural areas), location and geographical relativity are at the core of Chapter 4.

The authenticity debate in heritage tourism studies lies at the core of Chapter 5. The chapter examines tourists' perceptions of authenticity and whether or not it can be measured objectively, or if it simply depends on each individual's experience. Several types of inauthenticity are considered in the realm of heritage and examples of each one are provided. These include relative authenticity, contrived places, cultural imposters, uncertain pasts and unknown pasts.

Chapter 6 highlights the multidimensional and complicated political issues surrounding heritage, its conservation, its interpretation and its use in tourism. Concepts of power and exclusion are among the most salient in this regard, and the chapter looks at how these play out in an everyday context through social amnesia and the deliberate erasure of some histories, contested pasts and heritage dissonance, the propagandized manipulation of heritage for political gain and the effects of war and other conflict on cultural resources and heritage tourism.


Excerpted from Cultural Heritage and Tourism by Dallen J. Timothy. Copyright © 2011 Dallen J. Timothy. Excerpted by permission of Multilingual Matters Ltd.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Dr Dallen J. Timothy is Professor of Community Resources and Development, Director of the Tourism Development and Management Program, and Senior Sustainability Scientist at Arizona State University. He is also Visiting Professor of Heritage Tourism at the University of Sunderland, England, and Adjunct Professor of Geography at Indiana University. Professor Timothy is Editor of the Journal of Heritage Tourism and serves on the editorial boards of twelve international journals. His primary research interests include cultural heritage; tourism and sustainable development; globalization processes and supranationalism; political boundaries and border issues; biodiversity and tourism impacts; religion, conflict and security; immigration and global diasporas; and peripheral region dynamics.

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