Ref. :  000028925
Date :  2008-01-23
Language :  English
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Tourism, heritage and globalisation

Tourism and heritage

Tourism is often regarded as a major agent of change in today's world and as one of the most visible expressions of globalisation. The outcomes of tourism globalisation are dual in character. The negative effects concern the environment and culture : standardization, uniformity, disappearance of local values (Peric 2005:34). As far as positive effects are concerned, tourism globalisation offers the opportunity for businesses to operate globally, affecting both the supply (worldwide suppliers, computerized information and booking systems, decreasing costs of air fares, emerging destinations, etc.) and the demand (increasing income, more experienced and demanding tourists) (Smeral 1998:373).

In terms of cultural tourism, globalisation has encouraged the preservation and renewal of tangible and intangible heritage. Heritage, which has always been central to expressing one's own identity and has always had territorial features, is today more than ever an expression of a globalised world. The idea of mankind's world heritage was developed by the UNESCO during the seventies and has been promoted by tourism, which is becoming an instrument for a 'globalising' heritage. It can even be argued that the inexorable growth of foreign tourism and the importance of culture, heritage and art to that industry is the most powerful expression of the existence of a common global heritage as property of the peoples : every international tourist asserts the existence of a world heritage and the right of a global accessibility to it (Graham et al. 2000:238).

Tourism globalisation has brought both positive and negative effects to heritage places, the positive effects being mainly of an economic nature : possibility of revenue from cultural resources so far considered 'dead', renovation of material heritage, and so on. It also has a strong impact on keeping alive intangible heritage, which is being re-interpreted thanks to the tourist interest. Negative effects are primarily the material damages to heritage sites due to tourist masses visits : appropriate planning and management strategies are therefore needed to be developed for each heritage site which is offered as a tourist attraction. International organizations such as UNESCO, ICOM (International Council of Museums), ICOMOS (International Scientific Committee on Cultural Tourism) and ICCROM (International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property) have had a significant role in such strategies, dealing with issues such as the 'ownership' of heritage, the appropriate use of heritage, the access to and conservation of heritage sites, heritage as an industry, business or product, heritage as entertainment, heritage as education, the interpretation of heritage, heritage and authenticity, heritage and representation, etc. In many destination areas worldwide, cultural heritage is the very essence of tourism. There are various degrees of personal attachment to the heritage site and, according to Timothy (1997:752), there are four types of heritage experience: world, national, local and personal heritage experiences. World heritage attractions draw large masses of tourists from many countries ; although these attractions may invoke feelings of awe, they probably do not invoke feelings of personal attachment. For many tourists, visiting international heritage attractions is a way of appreciating universal civilization and achieving some degree of human unity (Moulin 1990:3). On the national level, historical monuments often represent durable national ideas, while attractions of local fame stir emotions and contribute to a local heritage experience (foreigners often may not be able to relate to such attractions). Personal heritage attractions draw people who possess emotional connections to a particular place. They include heritage associated with specific interest groups to which a traveler belongs, including religious societies, ethnic groups and career groups (Timothy 1997: 752-753).

Today heritage acquires a new importance in the field of culture, as it is being redefined as a strategic resource for the promotion of identities in the context of globalisation, allowing us to understand contemporary territoriality in its different dimensions – the world, the region, the nation, the city (Lacarrieu 1999:140). Still, while the mentioned idea of a mankind's world heritage has a great role as a tourist resource, unfortunately in terms of identity countries usually claim heritage as their national patrimony and seldom recognize its international provenance. This is true particularly in the cities, where, on the one hand, heritage is deterritorialized, as it appears to be assuming universal and therefore globalised values and, on the other hand, it is re-territorialized and localized as a means of defence against the 'attacks' of globalisation. The constant movement between heritage de-territorial and territorial character is closely related to the constitution of identities, and therefore to their remapping within the globalisation and regionalization context (Lacarrieu 1999: 142-144).


- Graham, B., Ashworth, G.J. and Tunbridge, J.E. (2000) A Geography of Heritage: Power, Culture and Economy. London: Arnold.

- Lacarrieu, M. (1999) Remapping Territorial Identities Within the Context of the Mercosur Cities. Culturelink 10 (28):139-148.

- Moulin, C. (1990) Cultural Heritage and Tourism Evolution. Historic Environment 7(3):3-9.

- Peric, V. (2005) "Tourism and Globalisation". In: Proceedings of the 6th International Conference of the Faculty of Management 'Managing the Process of Globalisation in New and Upcoming EU Members', Koper, 24-26 November 2005.

- Smeral, E. (1998) The Impact of Globalisation on Small and Medium Enterprises: New Challenges for Tourism Policies in European Countries. Tourism Management 19 (4):371-380.

- Timothy, D.J. Tourism and the Personal Heritage Experience. Annals of Tourism Research 24 (3):751-75.

- Wahab, S. and Cooper, C. (2001) "Tourism, globalisation and competitive advantage of nations". In: S. Wahab and C. Cooper (eds) Tourism in the Age of Globalisation. London: Routledge.

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