Journal of Heritage Tourism

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McKercher, Bob, and Hilary du Cros. 2014. Cultural tourism . 2nd ed. London: Routledge.

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Timothy, Dallen J. 2011. Cultural heritage and tourism: An introduction . Bristol: Channel View Publications.

Timothy, Dallen J., ed. 2016. Heritage cuisines: Traditions, identities and tourism . London: Routledge.

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The Oxford Handbook of Tourism History

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Heritage Tourism

The late Alan Gordon was professor of history at the University of Guelph. He authored three books: Making Public Pasts: The Contested Terrain of Montreal’s Public Memories, 1891–1930, The Hero and the Historians: Historiography and the Uses of Jacques Cartier and Time Travel: Tourism and the Rise of the Living History Museum in Mid-Twentieth Century Canada.

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Heritage tourism is a form of cultural tourism in which people travel to experience places, artifacts, or activities that are believed to be authentic representations of people and stories from the past. It couples heritage, a way of imagining the past in terms that suit the values of the present, with travel to locations associated with enshrined heritage values. Heritage tourism sites are normally divided into two often overlapping categories: natural sites and sites related to human culture and history. By exploring the construction of heritage tourism destinations in historical context, we can better understand how and through what attributes places become designated as sites of heritage and what it means to have an authentic heritage experience. These questions are explored through heritage landscapes, national parks, battlefield tourism, architectural tourism, and the concept of world heritage.

Heritage is one of the most difficult, complex, and expansive words in the English language because there is no simple or unanimously accepted understanding of what heritage encompasses. 1 We can pair heritage with a vast range of adjectives, such as cultural, historical, physical, architectural, or natural. What unites these different uses of the term is their reference to the past, in some way or another, while linking it to present-day needs. Heritage, then, is a reimagining of the past in terms that suit the values of the present. It cannot exist independently of human attempts to make the past usable because it is the product of human interpretation of not only the past, but of who belongs to particular historical narratives. At its base, heritage is about identity, and the inclusion and exclusion of peoples, stories, places, and activities in those identities. The use of the word “heritage” in this context is a postwar phenomenon. Heritage and heritage tourism, although not described in these terms, has a history as long as the history of modern tourism. Indeed, a present-minded use of the past is as old as civilization itself, and naturally embedded itself in the development of modern tourism. 2 The exploration of that history, examining the origins and development of heritage tourism, helps unpack some of the controversies and dissonance it produces.

Heritage in Tourism

Heritage tourism sites are normally divided into two categories: natural sites and sites of human, historical, or cultural heritage. the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) separates its list of world heritage sites in this manner. Sites of natural heritage are understood to be places where natural phenomena such as wildlife, flora, geological features, or ecosystems, are generally deemed to be of exceptional beauty or significance. Cultural heritage sites, which represent over three quarters of UNESCO-recognized sites, are places where human activity has left a lasting and substantial physical impact that reveals important features of a culture or cultures. Despite the apparent simplicity of this division, it is not always easy to categorize individual sites. UNESCO thus allows for a category of “mixed” heritage sites. But official recognition is not necessary to mark a place as a heritage destination and, moreover, some authors point to versions of heritage tourism that are not tightly place-specific, such as festivals of traditional performances or foodways. 3

The central questions at the heart of heritage tourism ask what it is that designates something as “heritage” and whether tourists have an “authentic” heritage experience there. At its simplest, heritage tourism is a form of cultural tourism in which people travel to experience places, artifacts, or activities that are authentic representations of people and stories from the past. Yet this definition encompasses two, often competing, motivations. Heritage tourism is both a cultural phenomenon through which people attempt to connect with the past, their ancestors, and their identity, and it is an industry designed to profit from it. Another question surrounds the source of the “heritage” in heritage tourism. Many scholars have argued that heritage does not live in the destinations or attractions people seek. Heritage is not innate to the destination, but is rather based on the tourist’s motivations and expectations. Thus, heritage tourism is a form of tourism in which the main motivation for visiting a site is based on the traveler’s perceptions of its heritage characteristics. Following the logic of this view, the authenticity of the heritage experience depends on the traveler rather than the destination or the activity. Heritage features, as well as the sense of authenticity they impart, are democratized in what might be called a consumer-based model of authenticity. 4 This is a model that allows for virtually anything or any place to be a heritage destination. Although such an approach to understanding heritage tourism may well serve present-day studies, measuring motivations is more complicated for historical subjects. Long-departed travelers are not readily surveyed about their expectations; motivations have to be teased out of historical records. In a contrasting view, John Tunbridge and Gregory Ashworth argue that heritage attractions are created through marketing: they are invented to be heritage attractions and sold to a traveling public as such. Yet, heritage attractions, in this understanding, are still deemed authentic when they satisfy consumer expectations about heritage. 5 This insight also implies that heritage tourism destinations might be deceptions, and certainly there are examples of the fabrication of heritage sites. However, if motivations and expectations are arbiters of heritage, then even invented heritage can become authentic through its acceptance by a public. While not ignoring the motivations and expectations of travelers, for historians, any understanding of heritage tourism must include the process by which sites become designated as a places of heritage. It must encompass the economic aspects of tourism development, tourism’s role in constructing narratives of national or group identity, and the cultural phenomenon of seeking authentic representations of those identities, regardless of their origins. Such a practice might include traveling to sites connected to diasporas, places of historical significance, sites of religious pilgrimages, and landscapes of scenic beauty or cultural importance.

Scholarly interest in heritage, at least in the English-speaking world, dates from the 1980s reaction to the emergence of new right-wing political movements that used the past as a tool to legitimize political positions. Authors such as David Lowenthal, Robert Hewison, and Patrick Wright bemoaned the recourse to “heritage” as evidence of a failing society that was backward-looking, fearful, and resentful of modern diversity. 6 Heritage, they proclaimed, was elitist and innately conservative, imposed on the people from above in ways that distanced them from an authentic historical consciousness. Although Raphael Samuel fired back that the critique of heritage was itself elitist and almost snobbish, this line continued in the 1990s. Works by John Gillis, Tony Bennett, and Eric Hobsbawm, among others, concurred that heritage was little more than simplified history used as a weapon of social and political control.

At about the same time, historians also began to take tourism seriously as a subject of inquiry, and they quickly connected leisure travel to perceived evils in the heritage industry. Historians such as John K. Walton in the United Kingdom and John Jakle in the United States began investigating patterns of tourism’s history in their respective countries. Although not explicitly concerned with heritage tourism, works such as Jakle’s The Tourist explored the infrastructure and experience of leisure travel in America, including the different types of attractions people sought. 7 In Sacred Places , John Sears argued that tourism helped define America in the nineteenth century through its landscape and natural wonders. Natural tourist attractions, such as Yosemite and Yellowstone parks became sacred places for a young nation without unifying religious and national shrines. 8 Among North America’s first heritage destinations was Niagara Falls, which drew Americans, Europeans, Britons, and Canadians to marvel at its beauty and power. Tourist services quickly developed there to accommodate travelers and, as Patricia Jasen and others note, Niagara became a North American heritage destination at the birth of the continent’s tourism trade. 9

As the European and North American travel business set about establishing scenic landscapes as sites worthy of the expense and difficulty of travel to them, they rarely used a rhetoric of heritage. Sites were depicted as places to embrace “the sublime,” a feeling arising when the emotional experience overwhelms the power of reason to articulate it. Yet as modern tourism developed, promoters required more varied attractions to induce travelers to visit specific destinations. North America’s first tourist circuits, well established by the 1820s, took travelers up the Hudson River valley from New York to the spas of Saratoga Springs, then utilizing the Erie Canal even before its completion, west to Niagara Falls. Tourist guidebooks were replete with vivid depictions of the natural wonders to be witnessed, and very quickly Niagara became heavily commercialized. As America expanded beyond the Midwest in the second half of the nineteenth century, text and image combined to produce a sense that these beautiful landscapes were a common inheritance of the (white and middle-class) American people. Commissioned expeditions, such as the Powell Expedition of 1869–1872, produced best-selling travel narratives revealing the American landscape to enthralled readers in the eastern cities (see Butler , this volume). John Wesley Powell’s description of his voyage along the Colorado River combined over 450 pages of written description with 80 prints, mostly portraying spectacular natural features. American westward exploration, then, construed the continent’s natural wonders as its heritage.

In America, heritage landscapes often obscured human activity and imagined the continent as nature untouched. But natural heritage also played a role in early heritage tourism in Britain and Europe. Many scholars have investigated the connection between national character and the depiction of topographical features, arguing that people often implant their communities with ideas of landscape and associate geographical features with their identities. In this way, landscape helps embed a connection between places and particular local and ethnic identities. 10 Idealized landscapes become markers of national identity (see Noack , this volume). For instance, in the Romantic era, the English Lake District and the mountains of the Scottish Highlands became iconic national representations of English, Scottish, or British nationalities. David Lowenthal has commented on the nostalgia inherent in “landscape-as-heritage.” The archetypical English landscape, a patchwork of fields divided by hedgerows and sprinkled with villages, was a relatively recent construction when the pre-Raphaelite painters reconfigured it as the romantic allure of a medieval England. It spoke to the stability and order inherent in English character. 11

Travel literature combined with landscape art to develop heritage landscapes and promote them as tourist attractions. Following the 1707 Act of Union, English tourists became fascinated with Scotland, and in particular the Scottish Highlands. Tourist guidebooks portrayed the Highlands as a harsh, bleak environment spectacular for its beauty as well as the quaintness of its people and their customs (see Schaff , this volume). Over the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, tourist texts cemented the image of Highland culture and heritage. Scholars have criticized this process as a “Tartanization” or “Balmoralization” of the country by which its landscape and culture was reduced to a few stereotypes appealing to foreign visitors. Nevertheless, guidebook texts described the bens, lochs, and glens with detail, helping create and reinforce a mental picture of a quintessential Highland landscape. 12 The massacre of members of the Clan MacDonald at Glencoe, killed on a winter night in 1692 for insufficient loyalty to the monarchy, added romance. Forgotten for over a century, the event was recalled in the mid-nineteenth century by the historian Thomas Babington Macaulay, and quickly became a tragic tale associated with the scenic valley. At the same time the Highlands were being re-coded from a dangerous to a sublime landscape, its inhabitants became romanticized as an untainted, simple, premodern culture. The natural beauty of the landscape at Glencoe and its relative ease of access, being close to Loch Lomond and Glasgow, made it an attraction with a ready-made tragic tale. Highlands travel guides began to include Glencoe in their itineraries, combining a site of natural beauty with a haunting human past. Both natural and cultural heritage, then, are not inherent, but represent choices made by people about what and how to value the land and the past. On France’s Celtic fringe, a similar process unfolded. When modern tourism developed in Brittany in the mid-nineteenth century, guidebooks such as Joanne’s defined the terms of an authentic Breton experience. Joanne’s 1867 guide coupled the region’s characteristic rugged coastlines with the supposedly backward people, their costumes, habitudes, beliefs, and superstitions, who inhabited it. 13 Travel guides were thus the first contributors in the construction of heritage destinations. They began to highlight the history, real and imagined, of destinations to promote their distinctions. And, with increasing interest in the sites of national heritage, people organized to catalog, preserve, and promote heritage destinations.

Organizing Heritage Tourism

Among the world’s first bodies dedicated to preserving heritage was the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB), organized in England in 1877. Emerging as a result of particular debates about architectural practices, this society opposed a then-popular trend of altering buildings to produce imaginary historical forms. This approach, which was most famously connected to Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc’s French restorations, involved removing or replacing existing architectural features, something renounced by the SPAB. The society’s manifesto declared that old structures should be repaired so that their entire history would be protected as part of cultural heritage. The first heritage preservation legislation, England’s Ancient Monuments Protection Act of 1882, provided for the protection initially of 68 prehistoric sites and appointed an inspector of ancient monuments. 14 By 1895, movements to conserve historic structures and landscapes had combined with the founding of the National Trust, officially known as the National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty, as a charitable agency. Much of the Trust’s early effort protected landscapes: of twenty-nine properties listed in 1907, seventeen were acreages of land and other open spaces. 15 Over the twentieth century, however, the Trust grew more and more concerned with protecting country houses and gardens, which now constitute the majority of its listed properties.

British efforts were duplicated in Europe. The Dutch Society for the Preservation of Natural Landmarks was established in 1904; France passed legislation to protect natural monuments in 1906. And in Sweden, the Society for the Protection of Nature was established in 1909, to name only a few examples. Nature was often connected to the spirit of “the folk,” an idea that encompassed a notion of an original ethnic core to the nation. Various European nationalisms of the period embraced the idea of an “authentic” national folk, with each folk considered unique due to its connection with a specific geography. Folklore and the celebration of folk culture offered Europeans links to imagined national heritages in a rapidly modernizing world, as modern, middle-class Europeans turned their attention to the romanticized primitive life of so-called simple peasants and linked notions of natural and human heritage. Through the concept of the folk, natural and human heritage combined to buttress emerging expressions of nationalism. 16

Sweden provides an instructive example. As early as the seventeenth century, Swedish antiquarians were intrigued by medieval rune stones, burial mounds, and cairns strewn across the country, but also saw these connected to natural features. Investigations of these relics of past Nordic culture involved a sense of the landscape in which they were found. This interest accelerated as folk studies grew in popularity, in part connected to nationalist political ambitions of Swedes during the growing tensions within the Kingdom of Sweden and Norway, which divided in 1905. Sweden’s preservation law required research into the country’s natural resources to create an inventory of places. Of particular interest were features considered to be “nature in its original state.” The intent was to preserve for future generations at least one example of Sweden’s primordial landscape features: primeval forests, swamps, peat bogs, and boulders. But interest was also drawn to natural landmarks associated with historical or mythical events from Sweden’s past. Stones or trees related to tales from the Nordic sagas, for example, combined natural with cultural heritage. 17

Although early efforts to protect heritage sites were not intended to support tourism, the industry quickly benefited. Alongside expanding tours to the Scottish Highlands and English Lake District, European landscapes became associated with leisure travel. As Tait Kellar argues for one example, the context of the landscape is crucial in understanding the role of tourism in the German Alps. 18 Guidebooks of the nineteenth and early twentieth century did not use the term “heritage,” but they described its tenets to audiences employing a different vocabulary. Baedeker’s travel guides, such as The Eastern Alps , guided bourgeois travelers through the hiking trails and vistas of the mountains and foothills, offering enticing descriptions of the pleasures to be found in the German landscape. Beyond the land, The Eastern Alps directed visitors to excursions that revealed features of natural history, human history, and local German cultures. 19

Across the Atlantic people also cherished escapes to the countryside for leisure and recreation and, as economic and population growth increasingly seemed to threaten the idyllic tranquility of scenic places, many banded together to advocate for their conservation. Yet, ironically, by putting in place systems to mark and preserve America’s natural heritage, conservationists popularized protected sites as tourist destinations. By the second half of the nineteenth century, the conservation movement encouraged the US government to set aside massive areas of American land as parks. For example, Europeans first encountered the scenic beauty of California’s Yosemite Valley at midcentury. With increasing settler populations following the California Gold Rush, tourists began arriving in ever larger numbers and promoters began building accommodations and roads to encourage them. Even during the Civil War, the US government recognized the potential for commercial overdevelopment and the desire of many to preserve America’s most scenic places. 20 In 1864, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Yosemite Grant, designating acres of the valley protected wilderness. This set a precedent for the later creation of America’s first national park. In 1871, the Hayden Geological Survey recommended the preservation of nearly 3,500 square miles of land in the Rocky Mountains, in the territories of Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho. Ferdinand V. Hayden was concerned that the pristine mountain region might soon be as overrun with tourists as Niagara Falls had by then become. 21 The following year, Congress established Yellowstone National Park, the world’s first designated “heritage” site. Yet, from the beginning, Yellowstone and subsequent parks were assumed to be tourist attractions. By 1879, tourists to Yellowstone had established over 200 miles of trails that led them to the park’s most famous attractions. Although thought of as nature preserves, parks were often furnished with railway access, and amenities and accommodations appeared, often prior to official designation. National parks were immediately popular tourist attractions. Even before it had established a centralized bureaucracy to care for them, the United States government had established nine national parks and nearly two dozen national monuments. Canada lagged, but established Rocky Mountain National Park (now Banff) in 1885 to balance interests of resource extraction and conservation. (The world’s second national park was Australia’s Royal National Park, established by the colony of New South Wales in 1879.) By the outbreak of the Great War, Canada and the United States had established fifteen national parks, all but one west of the Mississippi River.

Establishing parks was one component of building a heritage tourism infrastructure. Another was the creation of a national bureaucracy to organize it. The Canadian example reveals how heritage and tourism drove the creation of a national parks service. Much of the mythology surrounding Canada’s national parks emphasized the role of nature preservationists, yet the founder of the parks system, J. B. Harkin, was deeply interested in building a parks network for tourists. 22 Indeed, from early in the twentieth century, Canada’s parks system operated on the principle that parks should be “playgrounds, vacation destinations, and roadside attractions that might simultaneously preserve the fading scenic beauty and wildlife populations” of a modernizing nation. 23 Although Canada had established four national parks in the Rocky Mountains in the 1880s, the administration of those parks was haphazard and decentralized. It was not until the approaching third centennial of the founding of Quebec City (now a UNESCO World Heritage Site) that the Canadian government began thinking actively about administering its national heritage. In 1908, Canada hosted an international tourist festival on the Plains of Abraham, the celebrated open land where French and British armies had fought the decisive battle for supremacy in North America in 1759. The event so popularized the fabled battlefield that the government was compelled to create a National Battlefield Commission to safeguard it. This inspired the creation of the Dominion Parks Branch three years later to manage Canada’s natural heritage parks, the world’s first national parks service. By 1919 the system expanded to include human history—or at least European settler history—through the creation of national historic parks. These parks were even more explicitly designed to attract tourists, automobile tourists in particular. In 1916, five years after Canada, the United States established the National Parks Service with similar objectives.

As in Europe, nationalism played a significant role in developing heritage tourism destinations in America. The first national parks were inspired by the series of American surveying expeditions intended to secure knowledge of the landscape for political control. Stephen Pyne connects the American “discovery” of the Grand Canyon, for example, to notions of manifest destiny following the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848) that ended the Mexican-American War and ceded over 500,000 square miles of what is today the western United States. Popularized by the report of John Wesley Powell (1875) , the canyon began attracting tourists in the 1880s, although Congress failed to establish it as a national park. 24 Tourism was central to developing the Grand Canyon as a national heritage destination. Originally seen by Spanish explorers as an obstacle, and as a sacred place by the Navajo, Hopi, Hualapai, and Havasupai peoples, the canyon came to mark American exceptionalism. Piece by piece, sections of the canyon were set aside as reserves and finally declared a national park in 1919. By then, the park had been serviced by a railway (since 1901) and offered tourists a luxury hotel on the canyon’s south rim.

Archaeology also entered into the construction of American heritage. Almost as soon as it was annexed to the United States, the American southwest revealed to American surveyors a host of archaeological remains. For residents of the southwest, the discovery of these ancient ruins of unknown age pointed to the nobility of a lost predecessor civilization. By deliberately construing the ruins as being of an unknown age, Anglo-American settlers were able to draw distinctions between the ancients and contemporary Native Americans in ways that validated their own occupation of the territory. The ruins also had commercial potential. In Colorado, President Theodore Roosevelt established Mesa Verde National Park in 1906 to protect and capitalize on the abandoned cliff dwellings located there. These ruins had been rediscovered in the 1880s when ranchers learned of them from the local Ute people. By the turn of the century, the ruins had attracted so many treasure seekers that they needed protection. This was the first national park in America designated to protect a site of archaeological significance and linked natural and human heritage in the national parks system. 25

If, as many argue, heritage is not innate, how is it made? Part of the answer to this question can be found in the business of tourism. Commercial exploitation of heritage tourism emerged alongside heritage tourism, but was particularly active in the postwar years. Given their association with tourism, it is not surprising that railways and associated businesses played a prominent role in promoting heritage destinations. Before World War II, the most active heritage tourism promoter was likely the Fred Harvey Company, which successfully marketed, and to a great degree created, much of the heritage of the American southwest. The Fred Harvey Company originated with the opening of a pair of cafés along the Kansas Pacific Railway in 1876. After a stuttering beginning, Harvey’s chain of railway eateries grew in size. Before dining cars became regular features of passenger trains, meals on long-distance trips were provided by outside business such as Harvey’s at regular stops. With the backing of the Santa Fe Railroad, the company also developed attractions based on the Southwest region’s unique architectural and cultural features. The image capitalized on the artistic traditions of Native Americans and early Spanish traditions to create, in particular, the Adobe architectural style now associated with Santa Fe and New Mexico. 26 These designs were also incorporated into tourist facilities on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, including the El Tovar hotel and the Hopi House souvenir and concession complex, designed to resemble a Hopi pueblo.

Relying on existing and manufactured heritage sites, North American railways popularized attractions as heritage sites. The Northern Pacific Railroad financed a number of hotels in Yellowstone Park, including the Old Faithful Inn in 1904. In 1910, the Great Northern Railroad launched its “See America First” campaign to attract visitors (and new investments) to its routes to the west’s national parks. In Canada, the Dominion Atlantic Railway rebuilt Grand Pré, a Nova Scotia Acadian settlement to evoke the home of the likely fictional character Evangeline from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s 1848 poem by the same name. In the poem, Evangeline was deported from Acadia in 1755 and separated from her betrothed. By the 1920s, the railway was transporting tourists to Grand Pré, christened “Land of Evangeline,” where reproductions stood in for sites mentioned in the poem. 27 However, following World War I, heritage tourism in North America became increasingly dependent on automobile travel and the Dominion Atlantic eventually sold its interest to the Canadian government.

Conflict as Cultural Heritage

Tourism to sites of military history initially involved side trips from more popular, usually natural, attractions. Thomas Chambers notes that the sites of battles of the Seven Years’ War, Revolutionary War, and War of 1812 became tourist attractions as side trips from more established itineraries, such as the northern or fashionable tours. War of 1812 battlefields, many of them in the Niagara theater of the war, were conveniently close to the natural wonders people already came to see. By visiting the places where so many had sacrificed for their country, tourists began attaching new meaning to the sites. Ease of access was essential. Chambers contrasts sites in southern states with those in the north. In the south, the fields of important American Revolution victories at Cowpens and King’s Mountain were too remote to permit easy tourist access and long remained undeveloped. 28 In a contrary example, the Plains of Abraham, the scene of General Wolfe’s dramatic victory over France that led to the Conquest of Canada, was at first a curiosity. The visit to Quebec, a main destination on the northern tour, was originally based on its role as a major port and the attraction of the scenic beauty of the city on the cliffs, compared favorably to Cintra in Portugal. 29 Ease of access helped promoters convert an empty field near the city into the “hallowed Plains.”

Access to battlefields increased at almost the exact moment that one of the nineteenth century’s most devastating wars, the American Civil War, broke out. Railway travel was essential to both the success of the Union Army in reconquering the rebelling Confederacy, and in developing tourism to the sites of the slaughter. Railway travel made sites accessible for urban travelers and new technologies, such as photography and the telegraph, sped news of victories and defeats quickly around the nation. Gettysburg, the scene of a crucial Union victory in July 1863, became a tourist attraction only a few days later. Few would call the farmland of southeastern Pennsylvania sublime, but dramatic human history had unfolded there. The battle inspired the building of a national memorial on the site only four months later, the Soldiers’ National Cemetery. At the inauguration of the cemetery Abraham Lincoln delivered his “Gettysburg Address,” calling on the nation to long remember and cherish the “hallowed ground” where history had been made.

Gettysburg sparked a frenzy of marking sites of Civil War battles and events. Battle sites became important backdrops for political efforts at reunion and reconciliation after the war and attracted hundreds and later thousands of tourists for commemorative events and celebrations. Ten thousand saw President Rutherford Hayes speak at Gettysburg in 1878 and, for the 50th anniversary of Gettysburg, some 55,000 veterans returned to Pennsylvania in July 1913. What had once been a site of bloody, brutal combat had been transformed into a destination where tourists gathered to embrace their shared heritage, north and south. As the years progressed, more attractions were added as tourists began to see their heritage on the battlefield. 30

The conflict that most clearly created tourist attractions out of places of suffering was the World War I. Soon after the war ended, its sites of slaughter also became tourist attractions. As with the Civil War in America, World War I tourists were local people and relatives of the soldiers who had perished on the field of battle. By one estimate 60,000 tourists visited the battlefields of the Western Front by the summer of 1919, the same year that Michelin began publishing guidebooks to them. Numbers grew in the decades following the war. Over 140,000 tourists took in the sites of the war in 1931, which grew to 160,000 for 1939. Organizations such as the Workers’ Travel Association hoped that tourism to battle sites would promote peace, but the travel business also benefited. Travel agencies jumped at the chance to offer tours and publishers produced travel guides to the battlefields. At least thirty English guidebooks were published by 1921. 31

This interest in a conflict that killed, often in brutal fashion, so many might seem a ghoulish form of heritage tourism. Yet Peter Slade argues that people do not visit battlefields for the love for death and gore. They attend these sites out of a sense of pilgrimage to sites sacred to their national heritage. Organized pilgrimages reveal this sense of belonging most clearly. The American Legion organized a pilgrimage of 15,000 veterans in 1927 to commemorate the decade anniversary of America’s entry to the war. The following year 11,000 Britons, including 3,000 women, made a pilgrimage of their own. Canada’s first official pilgrimage involved 8,000 pilgrims (veterans and their families) to attend the inauguration of the Vimy Ridge Memorial, marking a site held by many as a place sacred to Canadian identity. Australians and New Zealanders marched to Gallipoli in Turkey for similar reasons. 32 As with the sites of the Western Front, Gallipoli and pilgrimages to it generated travel accounts and publishers assembled guidebooks to help travelers navigate its attractions and accommodations. In these episodes, tourism was used to construct national heritage. In the interwar years, tourist activity popularized the notion that sites of national heritage existed on the battlefields of foreign lands, where “our” nation’s history was forged. National heritage tourism, then, became transnational.

Since the end of World War II, battlefield tourism has become an important projection of heritage tourism. Commercial tour operators organize thousands of tours of European World War I and World War II battlefields for Americans and Canadians, as for other nationalities. The phenomenon seems particularly pronounced among North Americans. The motivation behind modern battlefield tourism reveals its connection to heritage tourism. If heritage is an appeal to the past that helps establish a sense of identity and belonging, the feelings of national pride and remorse for sacrifice of the fallen at these sites helps define them as sacred to a particular vision of a national past. The sanctity of the battle site makes the act of consuming it as a tourist attraction an act of communion with heritage.

Built Heritage and Tourism

During the upheaval of the Civil War, some Americans began to recognize historic houses as elements of their heritage worthy of preservation. These houses were initially not seen as tourist attractions, but as markers of national values. Their heritage value preceded their value as tourist attractions. The first major preservation initiative launched in 1853 to save George Washington’s tomb and home from spoliation. Behind overt sectional divisions of north and south was an implied vesting of republican purity among the patrician families that could trace their ancestors to the revolutionary age and who could restore American culture to its proper deferential state. The success of preserving Mount Vernon led to a proliferation of similar house museums. By the 1930s, the American museum association even produced a guide for how to establish new examples and promote them as sites of heritage for tourist interest. Historic houses provided tangible, physical evidence of heritage. Like scenic landscapes attached to the stories of history, buildings connected locations to significant events and people of the past. Architectural heritage came to be closely associated with tourism. Architectural monuments are easily identified, easy to promote, and, as physical structures, easily reproduced in souvenir ephemera. Although the recognition of architectural monuments as tourist draws could be said to have originated with the Grand Tour, or at least with the publication of John Ruskin’s “Seven Lamps of Architecture” (1849), which singled out the monuments of Venice for veneration, twentieth century mobility facilitated a greater desire to travel to see historic structures. Indeed, mobility, especially automobility, prompted the desire to preserve or even reinvent the structural heritage of the past.

A driving factor behind the growth of tourism to sites associated with these structural relics was a feeling that the past—and especially the social values of the past—was being lost. For example, Colonial Williamsburg developed in reaction to the pace of urban and social change brought about by automobile travel in the 1920s. Williamsburg was once a community of colonial era architecture, but had become just another highway town before John D. Rockefeller lent his considerable wealth to its preservation and reconstruction. 33 Rockefeller had already donated a million dollars for the restoration of French chateaux at Versailles, Fontainebleu, and Rheims. 34 At Williamsburg, his approach was to remove structures from the post-Colonial period to create a townscape from the late eighteenth century. By selecting a cut-off year of 1790, Rockefeller and his experts attempted to freeze Williamsburg in a particular vision of the past. The heritage envisioned was not that of ordinary Americans, but that of colonial elites. Conceived to be a tourist attraction, Colonial Williamsburg offered a tourist-friendly lesson in American heritage. Rockefeller, and a host of consultants convinced the (white) people of Williamsburg to reimagine their heritage and their past. America’s heritage values were translated to the concepts of self-government and individual liberty elaborated by the great patriots, Washington, Madison, Henry, and Jefferson. The town commemorated the planter elites that had dominated American society until the Jacksonian era, and presented them as progenitors of timeless ideals and values. They represented the “very cradle of that Americanism of which Rockefeller and the corporate elite were the inheritors and custodians.” 35

Rockefeller’s Williamsburg was not the only American heritage tourist reconstruction. Canada also underwent reconstruction projects for specifically heritage tourism purposes, such as the construction of “Champlain’s Habitation” at Port Royal, Nova Scotia or the attempt to draw tourists to Invermere, British Columbia with a replica fur trade fort. 36 Following World War I and accelerating after World War II, the number and nature of places deemed heritage attractions grew. Across North America, all levels of governments and private corporations built replica heritage sites with varying degrees of “authenticity.” Although these sites often made use of existing buildings and landscapes, they also manufactured an imaginary environment of the past. The motivation behind these sites was almost always diversification of the local economy through increased tourism. Canada’s Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site is perhaps the most obvious example. It is a reconstructed section of the French colonial town, conquered and destroyed in 1758, built on the archaeological remains of the original. Constructed by the government of Canada as a means to diversify the failing resource economy of its Atlantic provinces, the tourist attraction was also designated a component of Canada’s national heritage. The US government also increased its interest in the protection of heritage destinations, greatly expanding the list of national historic landmarks, sites, parks, and monuments. As postwar governments became more concerned with managing their economies, tourism quickly came to be seen as a key economic sector. The language of national heritage helped build public support for state intervention in natural and historic artifacts and sites that could be presented as sacred national places.

In Europe, many historic sites were devastated by bombardment during World War II. Aside from pressing humanitarian issues, heritage concerns also had to be addressed. In France, the war had destroyed nearly half a million buildings, principally in the northern cities, many of which were of clear heritage value. The French government established a commission to undertake the reconstruction of historic buildings and monuments and, in some cases, entire towns. Saint-Malo, in Brittany, had been completely destroyed, but the old walled town was rebuilt to its seventeenth century appearance. Already a seaside resort, the town added a heritage site destination. In the 1920s and 1930s, European fascist states had also employed heritage tourism. In Mussolini’s Italy and Nazi Germany, workers’ leisure time was to be organized to prevent ordinary Italians and Germans from falling into unproductive leisure activities. Given the attachment to racialized views of purity and identity, organized tourism was encouraged to allow people to bond with their national heritage. Hiking in the Black Forest or the alpine Allgau might help connect Germans to the landscape and reconnect them to the traditional costumes and folkways of rural Germany. As Kristin Semmens argues, most studies of the Nazi misappropriation of the past ignore the displays of history aimed toward tourists at Germany’s heritage sites. Many museums and historic sites twisted their interpretations to fit the Nazi present. 37 In ways that foreshadowed the 1980s British left’s critique of heritage, fascist regimes made use of heritage tourism to control society. After the war, a vigorous program of denazification was undertaken to remove public relics of the Nazi regime and in formerly occupied territories, as was a program of reconstruction. In the communist east, blaming the Nazis for the destruction of German heritage was an ideological gift. It allowed the communist regime to establish itself as the true custodian of German identity and heritage. 38 In the capitalist west, tourism revived quickly. By early 1947, thirteen new tourist associations were active in the Allied occupation zone. Tourism rhetoric in the postwar years attempted to distance German heritage from the Nazi regime to reintroduce foreign travelers to the “real Germany.” Despite this objective, Alon Confino notes that traces of the Nazi past can be located in postwar tourist promotions that highlighted Nazi-era infrastructure. 39

Postwar Heritage Tourism

As tourism became a more global industry, thanks in no small part to the advent of affordable air travel in the postwar era, heritage tourism became transnational. Ethnic heritage tourism became more important, and diaspora or roots tourism, which brought second- and third-generation migrants back to the original home of their ancestors, accelerated. Commodifying ethnic heritage has been one of the most distinctive developments in twenty-first century tourism. Ethnic heritage tourism can involve migrants, their children, or grandchildren returning to their “home” countries as visitors. In this form of tourism, the “heritage” component is thus expressed in the motivations and self-identifications of the traveler. It involves a sense of belonging that is rooted in the symbolic meanings of collective memories, shared stories, and the sense of place embodied in the physical locations of the original homeland. Paul Basu has extensively studied the phenomenon of “roots tourism” among the descendants of Scottish Highlanders. He suggests that in their trips to Scotland to conduct genealogical research, explore sites connected to their ancestors, or sites connected to Scottish identity, they construct a sense of their heritage as expatriate Scots. 40 Similar “return” movements can be found in the migrant-descended communities of many settler colonial nations. For second-generation Chinese Americans visiting China, their search for authentic experiences mirrored those of other tourists. Yet, travel to their parents’ homeland strengthened their sense of family history and attachment to Chinese cultures. 41 On the other hand, Shaul Kellner examines the growing trend of cultivating roots tourism through state-sponsored homeland tours. In Tours that Bind , Kellner explores the State of Israel and American Jewish organizations’ efforts to forge a sense of Israeli heritage among young American Jews. However, Kellner cautions, individual experiences and human agency limit the hosts’ abilities to control the experience and thus control the sense of heritage. 42

Leisure tourism also played a role in developing heritage sites, as travelers to sunshine destinations began looking for more interesting side trips. Repeating the battlefield tourism of a century before, by the 1970s access to historic and prehistoric sites made it possible to add side trips to beach vacations. Perhaps the best example of this was the development of tourism to sites of Mayan heritage by the Mexican government in the 1970s. The most famous heritage sites, at least for Westerners, were the Mayan sites of Yucatan. First promoted as destinations by the American travel writer John Lloyd Stephens in the 1840s, their relative inaccessibility (as well as local political instabilities) made them unlikely tourist attractions before the twentieth century. By 1923, the Yucatan government had opened a highway to the site of the Chichén Itzá ruins, and local promoters began promotions in the 1940s. It was not until after the Mexican government nationalized all archaeological ruins in the 1970s that organized tours from Mexican beach resorts began to feature trips to the ruins themselves. 43

Mexico’s interest in the preservation and promotion of its archaeological relics coincided with one of the most important developments in heritage tourism in the postwar years: the emergence of the idea of world heritage. The idea was formalized in 1972 with the creation of UNESCO’s designation of World Heritage Sites. The number of sites has grown from the twelve first designated in 1978 to well over 1,000 in 167 different countries. In truth, the movement toward recognizing world heritage began with the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, which did not limit its activities to preserving only England’s architectural heritage. Out of its advocacy, European architects and preservationists drafted a series of accords, such as the Athens Charter of 1931, and the later Venice Charter of 1964, both of which emerged from a growing sense of cultural internationalism. These agreements set guidelines for the preservation and restoration of buildings and monuments. What UNESCO added was the criterion of Outstanding Universal Value for the designation of a place as world heritage. It took until 1980 to work out the first iteration of Outstanding Universal Value and the notion has never been universally accepted, although UNESCO member countries adhere to it officially. Once a site has been named to the list, member countries are expected to protect it from deterioration, although this does not always happen. As of 2018, 54 World Heritage Sites are considered endangered. This growth mirrored the massive expansion of tourism as a business and cultural phenomenon in the late twentieth century. As tourism became an increasingly important economic sector in de-colonizing states of Asia and Latin America, governments became more concerned with its promotion by seeking out World Heritage designation.

Ironically, World Heritage designation itself has been criticized as an endangerment of heritage sites. Designation increases the tourist appeal of delicate natural environments and historic places, which can lead to problems with maintenance. Designation also affects the lives of people living within the heritage destination. Luang Prabang, in Laos, is an interesting example. Designated in 1995 as one of the best-preserved traditional towns in Southeast Asia, it represents an architectural fusion of Lao temples and French colonial villas. UNESCO guidelines halted further development of the town, except as it served the tourist market. Within the designated heritage zone, buildings cannot be demolished or constructed, but those along the main street have been converted to guest houses, souvenir shops, and restaurants to accommodate the growing tourist economy. Critics claim this reorients the community in non-traditional ways, as locals move out of center in order to rent to foreign tourists. 44 While heritage tourism provided jobs and more stable incomes, it also encouraged urban sprawl and vehicle traffic as local inhabitants yielded their town to the influx of foreign, mostly Western, visitors.

Heritage tourism may hasten the pace of change by making destinations into attractions worth visiting. To accommodate the anticipated influx of global tourists, Luang Prabang airport was renovated and its runway extended to handle larger jets in between 2008 and 2013. The influx of tourists at Machu Picchu in Peru has repeatedly led the Peruvian government to attempt to control access to the site, yet dependent on tourism’s economic contribution, such restrictions are difficult. The temple at Borobudur in Indonesia undergoes near continuous maintenance work to repair the wear and tear caused by thousands of tourists walking its steps every day. Indeed, the preserved ruins are said to be under greater threat than when they were discovered in the early nineteenth century, overgrown by the jungle.

Another colonial aspect of world heritage designation stems from the narratives of the sites themselves. Many critics accuse UNESCO of a Eurocentric conception of Outstanding Universal Value and world heritage. 45 Cultural heritage destinations in non-Western countries are often associated with sites made famous by the projects of European imperialism. The fables of discovering ancient ruins, for instance, prioritize the romance of discovery. Many of the most famous non-Western sites were “discovered” by imperial agents in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Angkor Wat in Cambodia was introduced to the world by the French explorer Henri Muhot in 1860. Machu Picchu, the Mayan sites of Yucatan, and the ancestral Anasazi sites of the American southwest were excavated, in some cases purchased, and their narratives constructed by American and European adventurers. The cultural relics of these ancient places were looted and assembled in Western museums, the stories of adventure and discovery published for Western audiences, and eventually a travel infrastructure was established to bring mostly Western tourists to the destinations. Western tourism thus forms another kind of imperialism, as the heritage of a destination is determined to suit the expectations and motivations of the visitors. This tends to obscure other features of local history, leaving those features of heritage not suitable to the tourist trade less valuable.

Made or Experienced?

Heritage is both made and experienced. Critics of heritage tourism rightly point to the ways in which heritage promotions can manipulate the past to defend specific ideological or commercial values. Yet, at the same time, heritage experiences are honestly felt and fundamental in the shaping of modern national or cultural identities. Thus, the questions of what constitutes “heritage” in a tourist attraction and whether or not the experience is “authentic” are fundamentally connected and contradictory. Neither heritage nor authenticity can be separated from both the process of their construction and the motivations and expectations of visitors. This makes heritage tourism a slippery subject for study. It involves numerous contradictions and complications. Indeed, contradiction and dissonance are at the heart of any notion of heritage tourism; what might be heritage for some is merely leisure and consumption for others. The dissonance comes from this dichotomy: the consumer exploitation of a destination that is held by many to have sacred properties. Yet, as this chapter suggests, the construction of those sacred properties is at times dependent on the consumer culture of the tourism industry.

Further Reading

Ashworth, Gregory J. , and John E. Tunbridge . The Tourist-Historic City: Retrospect and Prospect of Managing the Heritage City . London: Routledge, 2001 .

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Basu, Paul.   Highland Homecomings: Genealogy and Heritage Tourism in the Scottish Diaspora . London: Routledge, 2006 .

Dearborn, Lynne M. , and John C. Stallmeyer . Inconvenient Heritage: Erasure and Global Tourism in Luang Prabang . Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press, 2010 .

Hall, Melanie , ed. Towards World Heritage: International Origins of the Preservation Movement, 1880–1930 . Farnham: Ashgate, 2011 .

Hewison, Robert.   The Heritage Industry: Britain in a Climate of Decline . London: Methuen, 1987 .

Harrison, Rodney.   Heritage: Critical Approaches . New York: Routledge, 2013 .

Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Barbara.   Destination Culture: Tourism, Museums, and Heritage . Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1998 .

Lowenthal, David.   The Past Is a Foreign Country: Revisited . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015 .

Miles, Stephen.   The Western Front: Landscape, Tourism and Heritage . Barnsley: Pen and Sword, 2017 .

Macdonald, Sharon.   Memorylands: Heritage and Identity in Europe Today . London: Routledge, 2013 .

Park, Hyung Yu.   Heritage Tourism . London: Routledge, 2014 .

Shaffer, Marguerite S.   See America First: Tourism and National Identity, 1880–1940 . Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 2001 .

Schama, Simon.   Landscape and Memory . New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1995 .

Sears, John F.   Sacred Places: American Tourist Attractions in the Nineteenth Century . Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 1998 .

Timothy, Dallen J.   Cultural Heritage and Tourism: An Introduction . Bristol: Channel View, 2011 .

Winter, Tim.   Post-Conflict Heritage, Postcolonial Tourism: Culture, Politics and Development at Angkor . London: Routledge, 2007 .

1   Peter J. Larkham , “Heritage As Planned and conserved,” in Heritage, Tourism and Society , ed. David T. Herbert (London: Mansell, 1995), 85 ; Peter Johnson and Barry Thomas , “Heritage As Business,” in Heritage, Tourism and Society , ed. David T. Herbert (London: Mansell, 1995), 170 ; David Lowenthal , The Heritage Crusade and the Spoils of History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 94.

2   David C. Harvey , “The History of Heritage,” in Ashgate Research Companion to Heritage and Identity , eds. Brian Graham and Peter Howard (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008), 22.

3   Deepak Chhabra , Robert Healy , and Erin Sills , “Staged Authenticity and Heritage Tourism,” Annals of Tourism Research 30, no. 3 (2003): 702–719.

4   Tomaz Kolar and Vesna Zabkar , “A Consumer-Based Model of Authenticity: An Oxymoron or the Foundation of Cultural Heritage Marketing?” Tourism Management 31, no. 5 (2010): 652–664.

5   John Tunbridge and Gregory Ashworth , Dissonant Heritage: The Management of the Past as a Resource in Conflict (Chichester: J. Wiley, 1996), 10–13.

6 See Lowenthal, The Heritage Crusade and the Spoils of History ; Robert Hewison , The Heritage Industry: Britain in a Climate of Decline (London: Methuen London, 1987) ; Patrick Wright , On Living in an Old Country: The National Past in Contemporary Britain (London: Verso, 1985).

7   John A. Jakle , The Tourist: Travel in Twentieth-Century North America (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1985).

8   John F. Sears , Sacred Places: American Tourist Attractions in the Nineteenth Century (Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 1998).

9   Patricia Jasen , Wild Things: Nature, Culture, and Tourism in Ontario, 1790–1914 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1995).

10   Simon Schama , Landscape and Memory (New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1995), 6–19 ; Pamela J. Stewart and Andrew Strathan (eds.), Landscape, Memory and History: Anthropological Perspectives (London and Sterling: Pluto, 2003), 2–3.

11   David Lowenthal , “European and English Landscapes as National Symbols,” in Geography and National Identity , ed. David Hoosen (Oxford: Blackwell, 1994), 21–24 ; and David Lowenthal , “Landscape as Heritage,” in Heritage: Conservation, Interpretation and Enterprise , eds. J. D. Fladmark (London: Routledge, 1993), 10–11.

12   Katherine Grenier , Tourism and Identity in Scotland, 1770–1914: Creating Caledonia (London: Routledge, 2005), 5–11.

13   Patrick Young , Enacting Brittany: Tourism and Culture in Provincial France, 1871–1939 (Farnham; Burlington: Ashgate, 2012).

14   Christopher Chippindale , “The Making of the First Ancient Monuments Act, 1882, and Its Administration Under General Pitt-Rivers,” Journal of the British Archaeological Association 86 (1983): 1–55 ; Tim Murray , “The History, Philosophy, and Sociology of Archaeology: The Case of the Ancient Monuments Protection Act (1882),” in Histories of Archaeology: A Reader in the History of Archaeology , eds. Tim Murray and Christopher Evans (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), 145–176.

  National Trust Act, 1907 . 7 Edward 7, Ch cxxxvi, first schedule.

Other countries developed similar programs, especially after World War II: Australia, 1947; United States, 1949; Japan, 1964; and Italy, 1975.

17   Bosse Sundin , “Nature as Heritage: The Swedish Case,” International Journal of Heritage Studies 11, no. 1 (2005): 9–20.

18   Tait Keller , Apostles of the Alps: Mountaineering and Nation Building in Germany and Austria, 1860–1939 (Chapel Hill, NC: UNC Press Books, 2015).

19 See Karl Baedeker , The Eastern Alps, Including the Bavarian Highlands, The Tyrol, Salzkammergut, Styria, and Carinthia (Leipsic: K. Baedeker, 1879).

20   Eric Zuelow , A History of Modern Tourism (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), 108–109.

21   M. D. Merrill (ed.), Yellowstone and the Great West: Journals, Letters, and Images from the 1871 Hayden Expedition (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2003), 210–211.

22   Alan Gordon , Making Public Pasts: The Contested Terrain of Montreal’s Public Memories (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2001).

23   John Sandlos , “Nature’s Playgrounds: The Parks Branch and Tourism Promotion in the National Parks, 1911–1929,” in A Century of Parks Canada, 1911–2011 , ed. Claire Elizabeth Campbell (Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2011).

24   Stephen Pyne , How the Canyon Became Grand (New York: Viking, 1998), 25–26, 55–60 ; J. W. Powell , The Exploration of the Colorado River and Its Canyons (New York: Dover Press, 1875).

25   Linda Rancourt , “Cultural Celebration,” National Parks 80, no. 1 (2006): 4.

26   Charles Wilson , The Myth of Santa Fe: Creating a Modern Regional Tradition (Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, 1997).

27   Ian McKay and Robin Bates , In the Province of History: The Making of the Public Past in Twentieth-Century Nova Scotia (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2010), 71–129.

28   Thomas A. Chambers , Memories of War Visiting Battlegrounds and Bonefields in the Early American Republic (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press 2012).

29 See Alan Gordon, “Where Famous Heroes Fell: Tourism, History, and Liberalism in old Quebec,” 58–81 and J. I. Little , “In Search of the Plains of Abraham: British, American, and Canadian Views of a Symbolic Landscape, 1793–1913,” in Remembering 1759: The Conquest of Canada in Historical Memory , eds. Phillip Buckner and John G. Reid (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2011), 82–109.

30   John S. Patterson , “A Patriotic Landscape: Gettysburg, 1863–1913,” Prospects 7 (1982): 315–333.

31   David Lloyd , Battlefield Tourism: Pilgrimage and the Commemoration of the Great War in Britain, Australia and Canada, 1919–1939 (Oxford and New York: Berg, 1998), 100–111.

  Lloyd, Battlefield Tourism , 98–100.

33   George Humphrey Yetter , Williamsburg Before and After: The Rebirth of Virginia’s Colonial Capital (Colonial Williamsburg, 1988), 49–52 ; Stephen Conn , Museums and American intellectual life, 1876–1926 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 155.

34   Raymond B. Fosdick , John D. Rockefeller Jr.: A Portrait (New York: Harper, 1956), 356–357.

35   Michael Wallace , “Visiting the Past: History Museums in the United States,” in A Living History Reader , ed. Jay Anderson (Nashville: American Association of State and Local History, 1991), 190.

36   Alan Gordon , Time Travel: Tourism and the Rise of the Living History Museum in Mid-Twentieth-Century Canada (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2016), 65–70 ; Ben Bradley , “The David Thompson Memorial Fort: An Early Outpost of Historically Themed Tourism in Western Canada,” Histoire sociale/Social History 49, no. 99 (2016): 409–429.

37   Kristen Semmens , Seeing Hitler’s Germany: Tourism in the Third Reich (Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005).

38   Gregory Ashworth and Peter Larkham , “A Heritage for Europe: The Need, the Task, the Contribution,” in Building a New Heritage , ed. Gregory Ashworth and Peter Larkham (London: Routledge, 1994), 127–129.

39   Alon Confino , “Traveling as a Culture of Remembrance: Traces of National Socialism in West Germany, 1945–1960,” History & Memory 12, no. 2 (2000): 92–121.

40 See, for example, Paul Basu , Highland Homecomings: Genealogy and Heritage Tourism in the Scottish Diaspora (London: Routledge, 2007).

41   Huang, Wei-Jue , Gregory Ramshaw , and William C. Norman . “Homecoming or Tourism? Diaspora Tourism Experience of Second-Generation Immigrants,” Tourism Geographies 18, no. 1 (2016): 59–79.

42   Shaul Kelner , Tours That Bind: Diaspora, Pilgrimage, and Israeli Birthright Tourism (New York: New York University Press, 2010).

43   Dina Berger , The Development of Mexico’s Tourism Industry: Pyramids by Day, Martinis by Night (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006).

44 See, for example, Dawn Starin , “Letter From Luang Prabang: World Heritage Designation, Blessing or Curse?” Critical Asian Studies 40, no. 4 (December 2008): 639–652.

45   Tim Winter , “Heritage Studies and the Privileging of Theory,” International Journal of Heritage Studies 20, no. 5 (2014): 556–572.

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Tourism and Built Heritage

The relationship between tourism and built heritage probably is one of the most discussed issues, however, the conflicts between the adaptive reuse of built heritage and innovative tourism remain arguable. This collection selected several cases about the interpretation and production of built heritage and how the community involves in the management of built heritage in different stages, it may provide some new insight into tourism development and built heritage reuse.

Articles will undergo the journal’s standard peer-review process and are subject to all of the journal’s standard policies , including those pertaining to Collections. Articles will be added to the Collection as they are published.

Introduction:  tourism and built heritage Guest editor: Chaozhi Zhang, Sun Yat-Sen University, China

Public policies and conservation plans of historic urban landscapes under the sustainable heritage tourism milieu: discussions on the equilibrium model on Kulangsu Island, UNESCO World Heritage site

The tensions and threats in historic urban landscapes brought about by heritage tourism are still regional, global, general, and dynamic issues. For Kulangsu, there is an obvious problem in the connection betw...

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Study on the adaptability of traditional architecture in agricultural heritage sites after tourism intervention—a case study of Huzhou Digang Food Street in China

Traditional architecture in agricultural heritage sites (AHSs) embodies the livelihood of local communities and residents, which is an important part of the AHS. However, with the intervention of tourism, some...

Introduction: tourism and built heritage

A conceptual framework for understanding the intrinsic contestation of cultural heritage tourism in chinese qiaoxiang.

Cultural heritage in Chinese qiaoxiang is constructed where Chinese and foreign cultures gather, connecting overseas Chinese with their country of origin. However, conflicts concerning this type of heritage comes...

The right to entrepreneurial expression over heritage significance: the micropolitics of an adapted cafe in a historic Chinese town

This study draws on Henri Lefebvre’s ( The production of space , 1992, translated by D. Nicholson-Smith) concept of the spatial triad to examine the micropolitics of the production of urban and social space in a ca...

Heritage tourism evolution in Guangfu Ancient City, Hebei Province, China: an analysis with the improved creative destruction model

Ancient cities and towns are popular tourism destinations worldwide. In this paper, Guangfu Ancient City in Yongnian County, Hebei Province, China, is taken as the case study and the modified creative destruct...

Is colonial heritage negative or not so much? Debating heritage discourses and selective interpretation of Kulangsu, China

Heritage is in essence dissonant, especially colonial heritage in postcolonial nations. Via questionnaire surveys and interviews, this study investigates Kulangsu in Xiamen, China, a colonial heritage site mai...



Heritage travel for students abroad

Heritage Travel: What it is & How it Can Benefit You

Madison Jackson

Madi­son Jack­son lives in Pitts­burgh, PA and is the Direc­tor of Jew­ish Stu­dent Life at Carne...

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Door post after door post was pointed out to me. We stopped in a court yard that had tenement style houses surrounding it on all sides. We stepped inside what seemed nothing more than a run down, dingy entrance looking practically near collapse. Peering closely at the entrances, I saw an empty carved out space, diagonal in the shape of a mezuzah (a scroll with Hebrew verses on it from the Torah, inside a decorated case). I saw two circles placed perfectly across from each other, showing where once a mezuzah had hung. 

Heritage travel for students abroad

Learn about your family history & heritage while doing programs abroad—you’ll love the experience!

This was Praga. Located across the Vistula River opposite Warsaw’s Old Town, this area, sometimes referred to as “alternative Warsaw,” has been called dangerous. But, in years past, this was also the home of Warsaw’s Jews. As a Jew myself, I didn’t expect to learn about this place while interning abroad in Warsaw—a place where the majority of my people once lived. We walked through Praga and our tour guide pointed out different types of traces on doorposts of former Jewish family homes. Unlike the rest of the city, this area was barely destroyed during the war, leaving the homes of families in tact and the authentic representation of Jewish life in Warsaw prior to the war still in existence. 

Exploring the mezuzah traces through heritage travel allowed me to learn the stories of Jewish families who had lived in Warsaw, not from the structure of something that was rebuilt, but from the actual traces of what remained. 

There’s never been a better time to participate in heritage travel—and participating in historical travel during travel programs abroad just makes sense. Read on to learn how YOU can incorporate heritage tourism into your next great international adventure, like I did.

FAQs on heritage travel

Heritage travel for students abroad

Get up close and personal with hundreds of years of history.

What is Heritage Tourism? 

According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Heritage Tourism is “traveling to experience the places, artifacts and activities that authentically represent the stories and people of the past and present. It includes cultural, historic, and natural resources.” In other words, Heritage Tourism is a type of travel where you search for an authentic understanding of how something, or a people, was like. 

The three main types of Heritage Tourism sites are natural, cultural, and built. Natural heritage sites include landforms and rural scenery, cultural heritage tourism involves attending festivals or a place that sells traditional products, and built heritage sites encompass places such as monuments and historic homes. Through studying, volunteering, interning and teaching abroad there are several different ways in which you can engage with the different types of historic travel and heritage tourism. 

  • Study Abroad . Studying abroad provides a unique opportunity to live what you are studying. For example, instead of sitting in school reading about the Holocaust, if you study abroad in Europe, your classroom becomes your surroundings and you can visit places from a textbook firsthand. You can walk on the natural grounds where your ancestors once lived and enter still standing historic synagogues and other places of worship. Study abroad is a great time to explore cultural heritage tourism!
  • Volunteer Abroad . Protecting special places is valuable to humanity. If you hope to spend time volunteering abroad maybe consider volunteering on a conservation project anywhere in the world, that assists in protecting a heritage site for generations of travelers to come. This type of volunteering will be beneficial as it ensures that heritage travel can continue to provide meaningful experiences for others. 
  • Intern Abroad . During my time doing an internship in Warsaw, I went with the office I worked for to a cemetery clean up at the Jewish cemetery in Warsaw, to a day of memorial ceremonies in Jedwabne, Poland at seven different memorials, and on a bike ride from the gates of Auschwitz-Birkenau to the Jewish Community Center in Krakow. Naturally, internships you do abroad will come with similar opportunities to visit heritage sites as part of your work hours. Additionally, you can take advantage of your temporary backyard to spend weekends traveling to visit heritage sites and learning as much as possible about the people who live or lived in the country you are working in. You will benefit from seeing a full dimension view of the country. 
  • Teach Abroad . You can learn about your own heritage by fully integrating into a local community! In teaching abroad you can craft your own experience by specifically signing up for an English teaching program that places you with indigenous people at a heritage site. There, you can preserve their culture and help to sustain their local environment, while also getting to know your own family history through cultural heritage tourism.

Who participates in heritage travel? 

Heritage travel for students abroad

Add more context to some of those random traditions grandma forces around the holidays.

Anyone and everyone with a desire to learn can participate in heritage travel! People of all ages and backgrounds can think about doing heritage tourism during short school breaks, gap years, or family trips. 

Popular examples of heritage tourism involve religious travel or pilgramages. For instance, many Catholic students might enjoy visiting the Vatican while studying abroad in Italy, or some Muslim volunteers might tack on a hajj to Mecca while volunteering abroad in the Middle East. If you're a first generation immigrant from Latin America or East Asia, you might double-dip your internship abroad to learn your family's native tongue or get to know your family's culture or history in a new way. As a Jewish student abroad, I was keen to learn more about Jewish history—visiting pre-war synagogues and learning the stories of Jewish families past. 

The major benefits of heritage travel 

1. memorability.

Whenever you return from a trip, you are bound to face the question: So, what did you do on your trip? Usually, people are looking for more than just a general answer, but want an example of something specific you experienced and why you enjoyed it. Heritage travel will provide you with an instant, and ongoing, answer! Travelers say that trips with heritage activities are more memorable than trips without them, because they learn something concrete and new.  

2. Strengthens local economies 

Heritage travel for students abroad

Heritage tourism isn’t always pretty, but it always has an important impact.

A study conducted by the Travel Industry Association showed that heritage travelers spend more time and money at their destinations than other types of travelers. This helps to develop sustainable local economies which often don’t get as much popularity as large tourist attractions. Visiting heritage sites creates jobs in local organizations while simultaneously promoting community pride through the opportunities locals have to work together to improve cultural development. 

3. Diversifies the tourism experience

Relaxing at the beach is nice, but think how many more stories there are to tell when there is content and substance involved in a trip. Beyond the traditional ocean and sand vacation, heritage travel allows you to expand your horizons and spread the places people visit beyond a few locations. 

4. Reinforces identity and creates understanding 

Heritage tourism provides a whole new angle to traveling and can make an experience both fun and educational. You can learn more about yourself, your ancestors, and people of your race, religion, or culture, while also learning more about cultures and backgrounds different than your own. What we learn in a classroom can be difficult to understand; when you interact with sites in person you have the opportunity to really comprehend what a specific identity means. 

Heritage travel for students abroad

You might even find new things to love and appreciate about your personal history!

5. Increases your learning capacity—especially when done in conjunction with a program abroad

The best part of formal programs abroad isn’t that your itinerary is taken care of (although being free of planning those logistics IS pretty great!), it’s the fact that you have the right container for doing deep thinking and reflecting on what you’re learning. Instead of just witnessing and observing during culture heritage tourism, a program abroad might be able to offer you a stronger framework to participate in the culture. Translating interactions into hard-won lessons is much easier with the help of a trusty mentor or dedicated time for reflection. 

That’s why pairing heritage tourism with a program abroad can be a win-win on all fronts!

Walk the footsteps of your family

Heritage travel for students abroad

Get to know yourself—and your family—on a whole new level through heritage travel.

Soon, I started looking for mezuzah traces wherever I went in Europe. I didn't want to ever again walk by a place that had so many hidden stories—that could have been my relatives’ home, or the home of my friends grandparents. Each mezuzah trace told a story that came to life through the Jewish item. 

Looking for mezuzah traces throughout Europe was just one way I was able to connect to the heritage of the Jewish people and learn what Jewish life was like in countries prior to World War II. There are so many ways that heritage travel can enhance your time on programs abroad, even for a short trip, and it will make a difference in how you remember a place once you return home. 

Get Matched with 5 Programs to Enhance Heritage Travel Today

KAHAL Your Jewish Home Abroad is a non-profit organization which connects Jewish students studying abroad to Jewish opportunities, resources and connections abroad. KAHAL aims to create meaningful Jewish experiences for study abroad students, allowing them to interact with local Jewish communities and deepen their Jewish identities. Wherever students travel, KAHAL arranges chances to attend Shabbat dinners, meet Jewish students, attend holiday meals, volunteer and advocate, and provides grant funding and travel assistance.

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The city of Caldas Novas, in the state of Goiás, Brasil, is well-renowned for its thermal springs and is the chief touristic destination in the state. The exploitation of this natural resource has always been the main source of income for the city, hence the importance of guaranteeing its susteinable use in order to protect the local economy and environment. In addition, the city possesses a significant cultural and historical heritage, which must be valued and promoted through susteinable heritage tourism. This study aims to investigate whether heritage tourism, in view of conserving the city’s cultural heritage, could potentially represent an opportunity to promote both the collective memory of its people and the preservation of cultural and heritage diversity. Our goal is to analyze the cultural heritage of Caldas Novas and its potential to attract tourists interested in authentical cultural experiences, with the purpose of strenghtening the identity of the local population. This study employs a qualitative approach by means of bibliographic research, conducting a documental exploratory analysis based on images collected by the authors. The findings demonstrate the importance of preserving elements that constitute part of the historical development and the configuration of the city, and therefore are key elements in promoting the preservation of cultural assets and of the memory of a people, strenghtening their cultural identity.

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built heritage tourism

The Fantasy of Heritage Tourism

The first generation of immigrants wants to survive, the second wants to assimilate, and the third wants to remember, the sociologist Marcus Lee Hansen wrote in 1938. The fourth, fifth, and sixth? Apparently they now want to go on a luxury vacation to visit the Welsh coal mines their ancestors crossed an ocean to escape.

So-called heritage tourism has grown into its own travel category, like skiing and whale watching. In 2019, an Airbnb survey found that the share of people traveling to “trace their roots” worldwide had increased by 500 percent since 2014; the company announced that it was teaming up with 23andMe, the DNA-testing service, to meet this demand, offering trips to clients’ ancestral homelands. Ancestry, the company behind the family-search website, has partnered with a travel agency. The governments of Germany and Scotland have websites devoted to heritage tourism. Conde Nast Traveller is all over this trend . In Dublin, the Shelbourne Hotel’s “genealogy butler” can research your Irish side, if you so please. The Conte Club, a boutique travel service known for its focus on privacy and members-only jet rentals, will take you and your partner on a week-long “ DNA-mapped journey ” starting at $35,000 (flights not included). Should you wish to go very far back in time, the agency can make that happen. Rebecca Fielding, the CEO, told me about one client who was obsessed with the idea that he had descended from Genghis Khan. DNA tests can’t possibly prove a connection that old, Fielding said, but the Conte Club was happy to arrange his trip to Mongolia.

Kyle Betit, the genealogist who runs Ancestry’s travel business, told me that his clients experience something much more “personal” and “deep” than what’s available to “the typical tourist.” Ancestry genealogists can create bespoke itineraries tailored to a family’s history, down to the villages or even the streets where they once lived. The company’s most popular destinations were Italy and Ireland. In 2023, it took 44 individual clients or groups on such voyages. This year, it’s offering two genealogy cruises .

[ Read: What can you do with the world’s largest family tree? ]

Who takes such a trip? According to the Airbnb survey, Americans top the list, followed by Canadians and Australians. Those most likely to go are between the ages of 60 and 90—mainly retirees with cash to spare. Dave Richard Meyrick, whom Ancestry put me in touch with, is a representative example.

Meyrick is 73 and lives in Las Vegas, where he worked at the MGM Grand hotel and casino until his retirement. He recently came into a small fortune—not at the poker table, but after winning a lawsuit against the U.S. military. The Agent Orange that the Army sprayed over Vietnam when he was fighting there caused Meyrick to lose most of his eyesight years after he returned. The newly enriched man has no wife and no kids—“that I know of,” he told me, with a chuckle—so indulging in a decadent vacation was the logical course of action. The question was where to go.

He had recently been on an unremarkable cruise through the Gulf of Mexico when a free trial for appeared on his screen in spring 2020. He learned that he was ninth in a line of Richard Meyricks. He found his paternal grandfather—who was born in Wales and fought for Canada in World War I—in mustard-gas records that might explain his grandpa’s weird cough. Meyrick had always assumed that his paternal grandmother’s ancestors were also from Wales; actually, they were German, from the medieval city of Heidelberg and the Alpine region of Bavaria.

Soon he got a promotional email from Ancestry: If he wanted to see where his father’s parents came from, the company was there to help. He replied, intrigued. Betit scheduled a video call. The team helped him book a trip to Germany, where his father’s ancestors were innkeepers on the grounds of a princely castle. The inn has been renovated, and is now the chic office of a finance firm. During a stop in Munich, Meyrick drank beer at Oktoberfest. He then went to Wales, where another branch of his father’s ancestors worked the mines and steel mills in a village that dates back to the 1600s.

He told me that the deterioration of his eyesight had changed his perception of traveling. He couldn’t see the sites or landscapes very well, but his genealogy helped him feel connected to the places he visited. At the Welsh church where his ancestors had been baptized, married, and buried, Meyrick met a local history buff, who told him a story. In the early 1700s, a villager with a habit of hiding behind stagecoaches to rob the wealthy messed with the wrong rich man, a big landowner, and was hanged. The historian was convinced that the unfortunate thief was among Meyrick’s ancestors. Could this fabulous connection be true? Ancestry’s genealogists weren’t able to confirm it, and Meyrick said that his source had seemed a little senile. Still, he assured me, the $50,000 trip was “money well spent.”

This year, he plans to do his mother’s side.

Heritage tourism may only be catching on among Americans now, but governments have been pushing it for decades.

After World War II, tourism was considered a major component of diplomacy. Marshall Plan funds were earmarked to build not just roads and city centers but also ski slopes and airports. The Eisenhower administration created the People-to-People Program, promoting international pen-pal networks and sporting events in hopes of uniting countries against the Soviet Union.

Europe welcomed America’s tourists, and tried to encourage more to come. Some hosted “homecomings”—festivals meant to lure the children and grandchildren of emigrants back to visit. Greece held one in 1951; Lebanon, in 1955; Sweden, in 1965–66. Ireland hosted annual homecomings starting in 1953. These campaigns were, in the words of the Swedish historian Adam Hjorthén, “the earliest coordinated attempts at adopting ancestry in the promotion of mass tourism.”

They were also a failure, as people didn’t go. The Irish homecoming— called An Tóstal , or “a gathering,” and sponsored by the founder of Pan Am Airways—went on for six years before a tourist-board report admitted that the word fiasco didn’t sufficiently convey how badly the effort had flopped.   

For heritage tourism to take off, a few changes had to occur. First, plane tickets needed to get a lot cheaper. As the Pan Am founder, of all people, should have known, transatlantic flights then cost a lot of money—airfare from New York to London in 1950 was about $8,700 in today’s dollars . That year, only about one in 250 Americans went overseas at all. In 2019, at the pre-pandemic peak of traveling, this number was one in three .   

Even if they had the money, travelers might not have chosen to spend it on connecting with their homelands. For a long time, genealogy struck many people in the United States as elitist. Most European settlers, the historian Russell Bidlack wrote , “had escaped from a society where the traditions of inheritance and caste had denied them opportunity for a better life.” Genealogy was for people obsessed with nobility, or for WASPs living off borrowed glory.  

This began to change in the 1970s and ’80s, when genealogy became cool. The publication of Roots , Alex Haley’s 1976 novel about a seven-generation lineage, starting with a man sold into slavery in Gambia and ending with an American descendant not unlike the author, was a turning point. The book topped the New York Times best-seller list for more than five months and inspired two TV adaptations and eventually a whole genre of trace-your-ancestry reality shows. Genealogy was no longer just a hobby for pedigree-loving Europeans but became a tool for everyone, including marginalized groups, to understand their past.

Still, genealogy was hard work, at least until the advent of the internet in the 1990s made public records accessible and searchable. Infobases, a seller of floppy disks with genealogy databases catering to Mormons, who have a particular interest in the subject for theological reasons, purchased Ancestry, then a local publisher and magazine specializing in genealogy. went online in 1996. By the mid-2010s, DNA testing was mainstream—packaged, commoditized. The tests convinced people that the connection they felt to the place of their ancestors was “really real,” as Naomi Leite, an anthropologist at SOAS University of London, put it to me. An American could now possess hard evidence that he was 12.5 percent Greek.

But when that American goes on a vacation to Santorini, what exactly is he hoping to find?

[ From the June 2016 issue: The false promise of DNA testing ]

Heritage is the name Americans give to the past when they realize they’ve already lost it. They want to claim it back. And when they finally go to these places where they had never been, travelers say they are “returning.”

This mode of traveling across space and time is ultimately a journey into the self—the reconstruction of a grand story that started long ago and ends with you. It provides order and meaning to travel that might otherwise seem arbitrary, while still providing plenty of choices: After all, the further you go into your family tree, the more branches you may have to pick from. Solène Prince, who studies heritage travel in Sweden, told me that people tend to focus on the lineage that they view as most “socially desirable”: “Americans and Canadians like to be Swedish,” she said. “It’s progressive.”

A segment of this industry targets Black Americans. Ghana, from which many enslaved Africans were sent to the New World, had its own homecoming— a “Year of Return”— for Africans in the diaspora in 2019. One and a half million people visited the continent that year, Ghana’s tourism department reported. But most heritage tourism tacitly serves white Americans. (Ancestry mentions Ghana in a list of possible Personal Heritage Journeys, but when I asked if anyone had taken advantage of that trip, a company spokesperson said not yet.)

Genealogy may be the product of painstaking research, but it’s also a fantasy, about who we are and who we’d like to be. Many Americans want to be something else: “Time and again, I have heard genealogists be very disappointed to learn that, in fact, they’re all white,” Jackie Hogan, the author of Roots Quest: Inside America’s Genealogy Boom , noted once in an interview . “If America is a melting pot, this is people wanting to unmelt it and find what makes them special,” Leite, the anthropologist, told me.

[ From the July/August 2018 issue: The weird, ever-evolving story of DNA ]

But even if white Americans think they want to be something other than white, when it comes time to travel, they mostly want to go to Europe. Fielding, of the Conte Club, told me that the top destinations for its DNA trips were all in Europe. Even when a DNA test uncovers ancestry outside this part of the world, clients tend to ignore it and “put their money where their comfort zone is”—meaning travel to the places they might have gone to anyway.

Reading testimonials from Ancestry travelers online, I got the impression that a big appeal of a heritage trip is marveling at how bad struggles were in remote places compared with the safety and comfort of present-day America. “I am grateful for them leaving and everything they went through, so we could have the life we have,” one traveler said after visiting the Italian sulfur mines where their grandparents once worked. “I think it made me appreciate not only them, but the sacrifices they had to go through so I could live comfortably here in the United States,” said another one who went to Ireland. There’s a hint of smug pride behind this gratitude exercise.

But at least one traveler came away with a more disquieting narrative, according to Joe Buggy, one of Ancestry’s genealogists. He had an American client who learned, while visiting his ancestors’ quaint little village, that everyone in town believed his grandfather had committed a murder there. They all thought he’d fled to Australia. Maybe that’s why Grandpa never talked about Ireland.

The Fantasy of Heritage Tourism

  • Introduction
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  • Published: 28 April 2022

Introduction: Heritage legislation and management

  • James K. Reap 1  

Built Heritage volume  6 , Article number:  9 ( 2022 ) Cite this article

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The cultural expressions of humanity take many forms: tangible and intangible, moveable and immoveable, ancient and contemporary, privately or publicly owned. The law in its various forms—traditional law, constitutions, statutory law, treaties, and administrative regulations—is a key tool for protecting cultural heritage. To effectuate these legal protections, governmental agencies are created or designated with management responsibilities for implementing and enforcing the provisions found in law.

Laws to protect the cultural heritage arose at different times in different regions of the world. In classical antiquity, archaeological remains of ancient kingdoms and religious sites were acknowledged as the heritage of past generations, and their protection was the subject of edicts issued by Greek and Roman rulers. Similar approaches to protecting heritage were taken in the Islamic Caliphates and Imperial China and can be found in different world civilisations over time. It can be argued that the roots of contemporary heritage law go back to late 17th century Europe. The royal Placat of 1666 issued by the governing council under the minority of King Charles XI of Sweden is often cited as the first example of heritage law in modern times. In the 18th century other examples of edicts protecting archaeological and architectural resources can be found in Russia, Spain, Portugal and France. However, It was in the 19th century that what we recognise as modern heritage legislation began to appear. The earliest concerns focused on protection of heritage as a basis of national identity. This approach to cultural heritage was carried by European powers to territories around the world where it influenced the development of heritage legislation in colonial empires.

By the end of the century there were laws that recognised antiquities as the property of the state (Greece), a reorganised system of heritage management (Italy) and preservation of architecture and its setting (France). Perhaps one of the most influential acts because of the influence and reach of the British Empire, was the 1882 Ancient Monuments Protection Act . The beginning of international heritage treaties also can be traced to this period. The Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 addressed the protection of cultural heritage in time of war along with property associated with arts, sciences and education. During the years between the First and Second World Wars, a number of countries updated their heritage legislation, and the devastation of the Second World War provided further impetus for new and updated heritage legislation.

There were several emerging themes during the post-war period. First, states with a history of heritage legislation updated it, often including provisions for effective documentation and recording. Second, there was an impetus to establish international rules to protect cultural heritage, recognising that heritage extends beyond national heritage to human heritage. Third, states without a history of heritage legislation began to enact it, often based on existing models like British heritage laws, UNESCO conventions, or cultural heritage charters created by professional bodies modern legal protection and management practices developed differently in various world regions, there are many common concerns and approaches.

In North America, the two largest states, Canada and the United States, were both influenced by European models and the emergence in the 19th century of non-governmental historical societies and similar organisations. In both countries, control over historic properties was largely vested in provincial and state governments with limited regulatory power over privately-owned property. It was not until 1966 that a comprehensive federal law based on a collaborative partnership among federal, state and local governments was enacted in the United States.

In Central and South America, heritage legislation was influenced largely by Spanish colonial policies and recognition of indigenous heritage by newly independent countries. Mexico, for example, first declared archaeological sites state property and set up an institution to document these properties, later extending that to colonial heritage. In 1930, inspired by the Venice Charter, Mexico established a government agency responsible for interpreting and preserving its cultural heritage. In the region as a whole, legislation first focused on archaeology and looting, and it was not until the after the middle of the 20th century that legislation focused more strongly on establishing government agencies charged with managing cultural resources.

A long-standing reverence for the past and continuity of culture influenced the development of heritage legislation in Asia. As in Latin America, European powers influenced the law of colonial governments, and the desire of collectors for the region’s antiquities helped to form the first attempts to protect cultural property. In China and Japan, imperial mandates were the source of cultural heritage protection until the late 19th and early 20th century. Heritage legislation in Japan began in the 1890s with protection of ancient shrines and temples and developed a complexity over the years that included structures, landscapes, archaeological sites and traditional crafts. Having no tradition of legislative government, China did not consolidate its heritage law until the latter part of the 20th century.

Heritage law in Oceana has been influenced by British and American law. In Australia, for example, heritage laws exist at the national, state and territorial levels, while aboriginal cultural heritage and sacred sites are generally regulated by separate legislation. Heritage properties are also protected through local government planning schemes.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, there was a long history of protecting sacred places through customary laws, taboos and traditional regulatory practices. Most formal heritage legislation dates from after 1960 following countries’ independence, and reflects the laws of colonial powers and UNESCO conventions. Many in the region were part of the British Commonwealth and share common legal approaches. South Africa provides an example. Its National Monuments Act of 1969, only eight years after independence, protected archeological properties along with paleontological and mineralogical properties. Additional environmental legislation was passed in the 1980s and 90s culminating in the comprehensive National Heritage Resources Act of 1999.

Interest in controlling the collection of antiquities by Europeans and others was an impetus for modern regulation of cultural heritage in the Arab Region. To prevent foreign acquisition of antiquities, the Ottoman Empire passed its first laws in the late 19th century protecting archaeological sites and objects and establishing imperial ownership of antiquities. After the fall of the Ottoman Empire, much of the region fell under British and French control and antiquities laws reflected European influence. Many countries did not update their laws until after the 1970s.

Since the latter part of the 20th century, domestic legislation and policies affecting cultural heritage have been strongly influenced by international and regional legislation. The UNESCO conventions on protection of cultural property in armed conflict, preventing illicit transfer, protecting underwater cultural heritage, and recognising intangible cultural heritage have all been influential. However, the 1972 UNESCO Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (World Heritage Convention) has had the most influence on shaping domestic legislation and management practices for the built heritage. Although the Convention sets out a system for listing natural and cultural heritage properties possessing ‘outstanding universal value’ on the World Heritage List, the convention calls on signatories to recognise that they have responsibility for ‘identification, protection, conservation, presentation and transmission to future generations’ of all their natural and cultural heritage. Several world regions have also developed treaties for cultural heritage protection including Latin America, the Pacific and Europe. The Granada Convention and the LaValetta Conventions in Europe are examples of regional legislation aimed at protecting aspects of the architectural and archaeological heritage.

Cultural heritage legislation protecting archaeological sites, designated buildings, conservation areas or districts, and cultural landscapes continues to vary across the world. Within different countries, primary authority over heritage may be the purview of national, regional or local authorities, or a combination thereof. On the national level, heritage conservation is generally overseen by a government ministry with authority over designation and protection of heritage properties and in some cases control of development that would affect their character. In other cases, a ministry may be responsible for protecting both natural and built sites or have purview over both culture and a related area such as tourism. Urban conservation is often the purview of agencies responsible for town planning. Other agencies such as those responsible for the environment, transportation, or energy may also impact cultural heritage. In some countries there is a separate system for regulating the conservation of religious buildings. At the local level, heritage conservation is often part of the land use planning and development processes which are seen as a basic conservation tool. In addition to cultural property regulation, other laws dealing with tourism, construction codes, life safety, disability access, and human rights also impact the conservation of cultural heritage.

Today, heritage legislation and management practices continue to evolve. While concerns that motivated the creation of earlier heritage legislation remain relevant, a number of new issues are helping to shape its further development. These include the role of contemporary architecture in historic environments, new technologies for heritage management, the rights of indigenous people and local communities to control their cultural heritage, the role of cultural heritage in sustainable development, and the impact of climate change on both natural and cultural heritage.

This special issue of Built Heritage examines the approach of several countries and regions as they address common concerns and unique challenges.

In his article ‘The Development and Institutional Characteristics of China’s Build Heritage Conservation Legislation’ Song Zhang traces the development of China’s national cultural heritage legislation from the late Qing Dynasty to the present, with an emphasis on built heritage. He argues that while the legislative system for heritage conservation that emerged after 2000 had contributed positively to the conservation, use and regeneration of the urban and rural heritage, there remains a lack of national legislation that supports regional efforts. He notes that the ongoing extensive reform of the urban and rural planning management system has a great impact on the management of the historic urban landscape, creating an urgent need for updating the relevant legislation for historic cities. He also suggests that more attention must be paid to balancing individual property rights and the public’s rights to the management and conservation of heritage.

Afolasade Adewumi examines the development of the cultural heritage management systems in Nigeria from the pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial eras in her article ‘Built Heritage and Planning Laws in Africa: the Nigerian Experience’ In many ways, the Nigerian experience is representative of the experience of other countries in the region. Adewumi argues that Nigeria must document the traditional management systems that have sustained indigenous heritage sites through the centuries and incorporate them in a holistic approach to harmonise the various heritage management systems. At the same time, a strong coordination between urban planning and heritage preservation authorities is necessary to facilitate sustainable development while preserving the built heritage.

Many states in the Arab Region have seen major updates to their national heritage legislation, incorporating many provisions of the World Heritage Convention. Michał Wosiński’s article, ‘New Perspectives on World Heritage Management in the GCC Legislation,’ examines the recent legislation and its potential to improve management systems in terms of integrated approaches, monitoring and enforcement. He observes that planning regulations in the region do not provide strong support for cultural heritage in terms of cohesion between heritage law, planning law, environmental protection and impact assessment.

Climate change is one of the greatest threats facing the world's cultural and natural heritage and addressing this critical situation has become an urgent priority. Current legislative frameworks are often inadequate to address the growing challenge. Building on earlier comparative cultural law scholarship, Ryan Rowberry examines the legislative and management tools used by three countries to protect their coastal resources in his article, 'Climate Change, Coastal Built Heritage, and Critical Challenges Facing Heritage Law Frameworks on the Unites States, United Kingdom, and France'. By utilising comparative case studies that identify critical challenges and the inadequacy of current legal and management frameworks, he illustrates the need for innovative tools and international cooperation to address this growing threat.

Together these articles provide insight into the challenges facing the cultural heritage in different regions of the world and the threats posed by global crises such as climate change and unstainable development while highlighting the potential of legislation and management approaches that can be used to address them.

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  3. 23 UNESCO World Heritage Sites In India That You Must Visit

    built heritage tourism

  4. 23 UNESCO World Heritage Sites In India That You Must Visit

    built heritage tourism

  5. World Heritage Site of Mahabalipuram Private Tour from Chennai

    built heritage tourism

  6. What is Heritage (Historical) Tourism?

    built heritage tourism


  1. Heritage Park

  2. Swarup Khan Dhol

  3. ‘The Barbados Trailway Project: C. 21st Transformation of a Colonial Era Railway in the Caribbean’

  4. Heritage legacies on major infrastructure projects: Who’s heritage is it anyway?

  5. Barkat & Jalal Lava Song 4

  6. Built Heritage Sub-Committee


  1. Introduction: tourism and built heritage

    Built heritage, an important part of the cultural heritage of towns and cities, is always involved in both industry practices and scholarly discussions regarding tourism. As one of the original forms of heritage, built heritage enjoys a popular image; in the eyes of the public, built heritage represents one of the most conceivable heritage ...

  2. Tourism and Built Heritage

    The relationship between tourism and built heritage probably is one of the most discussed issues, however, the conflicts between the adaptive reuse of built heritage and innovative tourism remain arguable. This collection selected several cases about the interpretation and production of built heritage and how the community involves in the ...

  3. Volume 6, issue 1

    This is part of 1 collection. Adaptive reuse of the built heritage: concepts and cases of an emerging discipline. By Bie Plevoets and Koenraad Van Cleempoel. Routledge, London, 2019. 256 pp. £36.99. ISBN9781138062764. Liliane Wong. Book, conference and exhibition review.

  4. Special Issue : The Future of Built Heritage Conservation

    Built heritage and memory—contentious heritage, memory making and memory practices, multi-cultural and minority heritage representation, representation of the recent past, ... World Heritage tourism in China regulates conservation approaches employed across natural and built heritage sites. However, focusing on the revenue-generating ...

  5. Journal of Heritage Tourism

    Tourism based on living traditions, built heritage resources, and intangible culture is one of the most pervasive forms of tourism. It involves many different resources, and people's motivations for visiting are manifold (McKercher and du Cros 2014; Timothy 2011).Many places depend almost entirely upon the cultural past for their tourism-based economies, resulting in many political, social ...

  6. PDF Built Heritage and Sustainable Tourism: Conceptual ...

    Built Heritage and Sustainable Tourism: C onceptual, Economic and Social Variables 149 economic study is subtler and less spread. The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) adopted an International Charter on Cultural Tourism in 1976. The extraordinary growth of tourism over the last decades of the twentieth century led ICOMOS

  7. (PDF) Introduction: tourism and built heritage

    The popularity of visiting built heritage is rising, and heritage houses, streets, and towns have increasingly become tourist destinations (Zhang 2022). Earthen heritage today is under greater ...

  8. (PDF) Built Heritage and Sustainable Tourism: Conceptual ...

    Tourism has always been studied as an economic activity, measuring its incidence, for instance, in the national gross product. However, when we include heritage, the. Built ...

  9. Articles

    The main purpose of this paper is to explore how the conceptualisation and management of cultural heritage have been treated in the cultural heritage proclamations of Ethiopia. The analysis of the four cultura... Mengistie Zewdu. Built Heritage 2024 8 :1. Research article Published on: 23 January 2024.

  10. Heritage

    The importance of culture and cultural heritage for the achievement of sustainable development is widely stressed in official documents. Nevertheless, the role of cultural heritage for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Agenda 2030 is limited in practical terms, as explicit references to it only appear in Target 11.4. Focusing on the built cultural heritage, the ...

  11. Heritage Tourism

    Abstract. Heritage tourism is a form of cultural tourism in which people travel to experience places, artifacts, or activities that are believed to be authentic representations of people and stories from the past. It couples heritage, a way of imagining the past in terms that suit the values of the present, with travel to locations associated ...

  12. Tourism and Built Heritage

    The relationship between tourism and built heritage probably is one of the most discussed issues, however, the conflicts between the adaptive reuse of built heritage and innovative tourism remain arguable. This collection selected several cases about the interpretation and production of built heritage and how the community involves in the ...

  13. PDF Indicators for Assessing the Sustainability of Built Heritage

    Heritage tourism can provide visitors with the experience and knowledge to appreciate the historic environment; the core tourism product within this is built heritage attractions. Cultural and historical tourism has become one of the fastest and largest growing sectors in this industry [34,35]. Built heritage attractions may ensure the

  14. Managing built heritage for tourism in Trinidad and Tobago: challenges

    The purpose of this research is to examine the management of built heritage for tourism in Trinidad and Tobago with a specific focus on identifying the built heritage resources of the country and identifying the challenges of its sustainable management. Qualitative interviews conducted with heritage tourism stakeholders indicate that a lack of ...

  15. Heritage tourism

    Cultural heritage tourism is a form of non-business travel whereby tourists engage with the heritage, tangible and intangible, ... Architectural Heritage. The built environment surrounding historic sites such as folk villages, historic house museums, castles, and palaces can be testamentary to a level of human creative genius which illustrates ...

  16. Conservation and Management of Indian Built- Heritages: Exploring the

    (17202) & Past Year CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT OF INDIAN BUILT-HERITAGES 9 Issues Here, Table 1, Table 2, Table 3, and Table 4 all are reflecting the growing market for Heritage Tourism in India, as there is a paradigm shift in tourists' attitude and their demand and it has become a core global trend in travel and tourism industry, where the ...

  17. People's perspectives on heritage conservation and tourism development

    The conservation of heritage and heritage-based tourism are interrelated activities in which the development in one can lead to the growth of the other and vice versa. In recent years, people have become increasingly aware of the importance of heritage and the necessity of its conservation. People's knowledge and preservation of their roots and emotional attachments to traditions and places ...

  18. Heritage Travel: What it is & How it Can Benefit You

    The three main types of Heritage Tourism sites are natural, cultural, and built. Natural heritage sites include landforms and rural scenery, cultural heritage tourism involves attending festivals or a place that sells traditional products, and built heritage sites encompass places such as monuments and historic homes.

  19. Heritage tourism and the built environment

    The aims of this research are to examine and explore perceptions of the built environmental impacts of heritage tourism in urban settlements; to explore the practice of heritage tourism management; and to examine the consequences of both for the sustainability of the heritage environment. The literature review explores the concepts of heritage management, the heritage production model, the ...

  20. PDF Introduction: tourism and built heritage

    Built heritage, an important part of the cultural heritage of towns and cities, is always involved in both industry practices and scholarly discussions regarding tourism. As one of the original forms of heritage, built heritage enjoys a popular image; in the eyes of the public, built heritage represents one of the most conceivable heritage ...

  21. Caldas Novas a Reflection on Tourism: From Hot Springs to Built

    It is one of the most crucial and of fastest growth components of tourism, since built heritage presentes itself with an enourmous potential to attract tourists through learning as a motivation for travelling. Consequentially, experiencing heritage has the potential to transform the tourist through the feelings and emotions experienced during ...

  22. The Fantasy of Heritage Tourism

    So-called heritage tourism has grown into its own travel category, like skiing and whale watching. In 2019, an Airbnb survey found that the share of people traveling to "trace their roots ...

  23. Introduction: Heritage legislation and management

    The law in its various forms—traditional law, constitutions, statutory law, treaties, and administrative regulations—is a key tool for protecting cultural heritage. To effectuate these legal protections, governmental agencies are created or designated with management responsibilities for implementing and enforcing the provisions found in law.