Or Both? 

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Tourism has both positive and negative impacts on Cultural Heritage sites. Tourism brings to these sites the attention and recognition from the general public about these sites that would otherwise have been lost and forgotten. It creates opportunity for the public to see and experience something that amazing. Tourism also brings in income to restore or safe keep these sites. But too much tourism can also be a disaster for these sites, human contact increases the deterioration of stones and whatever other materials the monuments are made of. Tourism also requires the development of housing and food to meet the needs of foreigners and thus causing change to the regions culture and can also have an enviormental impact to the region thus eventually affecting the Cultural Heritage sites.

PS The photo above is a sad site to see. I'm guilty of being one of the tourist who have been there and done that. Being able to visit ancient sites like these is truly a memorable experience.

-Mary
Tourism is one of the largest industries in the world and provides jobs to almost 220 million worldwide (http://www.wttc.org). Tourism, if developed to sustain cultural heritage sites and support the local communities surrounding these sites, provides a catalyst for economic development and poverty reduction not just in the immediate communities, but similarly on a regional and national level. It is necessary and essential that local and federal governments, and the local people alike are aware of the economic importance and vitality of such sites and other cultural heritage activities such as festivals and traditionally made handcrafts in order for them to support efforts to conserve, preserve and sustain the sites for generations to come.

Negative impacts, while they exist, can be minimized but adopting carrying capacity policies, site management, and developing laws to protect the sites. Tourism is considered one of the top economic sectors in many countries with cultural heritage sites. Eliminating or reducing the size of the industry in such nations would have devastating impact on their perspective economies. As an example, Jordan, with three world heritage sites and many others on the UNESCO tentative list, has come a long way in the last 15-20 years in managing cultural heritage sites, making them more accessible to tourists and providing economic and social returns to the local communities. However, I'm sure the work is not done there and in many other places around the world.

Dana
In my country is only through the tag of Tourism that the State invests in archaeological research. There is almost no cientific research funds for archaeology. Is our duty as archaeologists to direct the touristic development of the sites in a responsable way to preserve the cultural remains and allow the public to know about its heritage an enjoy a visit.
Whether tourism has a positive or negative impact on Heritage sites, it is global phenomenon here to stay. I live in Spain, a country whose modern economy was built around tourism and I agree with Alejandro Chu that government funds for preservation and conservation of cultural sites and natural reserves is based on their being "of touristic value".

Tourism is, according to expert Costas Christ, the second largest economic sector in the world, second only to the world industrial-military complex. The challenge is to create new models for tourism and to promote stricter enforcement of laws that protect not only the most famous and officially recognized World Heritage sites, but also as many smaller and less-known natural and cultural areas as is possible. Too often mass tourism destroys local customs and culture, drives up land values while at the same time degrading the land and water resources, destroying the local agriculture and fishing that are also an important part of a place's heritage and culture.

The entire coast of Spain has been degraded for tourist revenue. The problems that mass tourism brings: pollution, rising land prices, crime and prostitution, to name only a few are not unique to any particular center of tourist activity; they are shared by communities throughout the world. While many Spaniards now regret the damage done, they make an interesting observation: that the tourists visiting Spain in the 1950s and 60s opened their eyes to the need for social and political change and often made them appreciate monuments, customs, and natural resources that they had previously regarded as having little or no value. I believe that well-prepared tourists who have previously studied the place they travel to and are respectful of the cultural sites, natural resources, and local communities they encounter, can be a positive force for the preservation and development of the places they visit.
Jenni Lukac said:
Whether tourism has a positive or negative impact on Heritage sites, it is global phenomenon here to stay. I live in Spain, a country whose modern economy was built around tourism and I agree with Alejandro Chu that government funds for preservation and conservation of cultural sites and natural reserves is based on their being "of touristic value".

Tourism is, according to expert Costas Christ, the second largest economic sector in the world, second only to the world industrial-military complex. The challenge is to create new models for tourism and to promote stricter enforcement of laws that protect not only the most famous and officially recognized World Heritage sites, but also as many smaller and less-known natural and cultural areas as is possible. Too often mass tourism destroys local customs and culture, drives up land values while at the same time degrading land and water resources and destroying the local agriculture and fishing that are also an important part of a place's heritage and culture.

The entire coast of Spain has been degraded for tourist revenue. The problems that mass tourism brings: pollution, rising land prices, crime and prostitution, to name only a few are not unique to any particular center of tourist activity: they are shared by communities throughout the world. While many Spaniards now regret the damage done, they make an interesting observation: that the tourists visiting Spain in the 1950s and 60s opened their eyes to the need for social and political change and often made them appreciate monuments, customs, and natural resources that they had previously regarded as having little or no value. I believe that well-prepared tourists who have previously studied the place they travel to and are respectful of the cultural sites, natural resources, and local communities they encounter, can be a positive force for the preservation and development of the places they visit.

There is a need to learn from such exercises and come out with positve initiatives, which will preserve the heritage and yet generate revenue for the conservation and protection. We should use this forum to collect best practises from around the world.

OP
Jenni Lukac said:

Jenni Lukac said:
Whether tourism has a positive or negative impact on Heritage sites, it is global phenomenon here to stay. I live in Spain, a country whose modern economy was built around tourism and I agree with Alejandro Chu that government funds for preservation and conservation of cultural sites and natural reserves is based on their being "of touristic value".

Tourism is, according to expert Costas Christ, the second largest economic sector in the world, second only to the world industrial-military complex. The challenge is to create new models for tourism and to promote stricter enforcement of laws that protect not only the most famous and officially recognized World Heritage sites, but also as many smaller and less-known natural and cultural areas as is possible. Too often mass tourism destroys local customs and culture, drives up land values while at the same time degrading land and water resources and destroying the local agriculture and fishing that are also an important part of a place's heritage and culture.

The entire coast of Spain has been degraded for tourist revenue. The problems that mass tourism brings: pollution, rising land prices, crime and prostitution, to name only a few are not unique to any particular center of tourist activity: they are shared by communities throughout the world. While many Spaniards now regret the damage done, they make an interesting observation: that the tourists visiting Spain in the 1950s and 60s opened their eyes to the need for social and political change and often made them appreciate monuments, customs, and natural resources that they had previously regarded as having little or no value. I believe that well-prepared tourists who have previously studied the place they travel to and are respectful of the cultural sites, natural resources, and local communities they encounter, can be a positive force for the preservation and development of the places they visit.

There is a need to evolve best practises for heritge related tourism, based on such experiences across the world.

op

I read a quote once that went something like this: "Tourism is like fire. You can use it to cook with or it can burn your house down." Tourists are naturally curious - or they wouldn't be traveling. As a result, they will oftentimes take their curiosity to extremes if they are allowed - taking pictures wherever they can to show friends and family back home the exotic locales they visited while on vacation. It is the job of governments (oftentimes with the help of NGOs) to manage tourists. This means putting up "Do Not Enter" signs and building things like wooden platforms to walk along rather than allowing tourists to trample over stones of once ancient temples now lying in ruins. It also creates more "sense of respect" for the place when tourists are told what they can and cannot do - and having local officials walking around and policing the area adds to that feeling. It is our job as managers of heritage sites to make sure tourists are controlled in order to mitigate any negative impacts. Then, of course, the benefits for local communities, including possibly a newfound respect for the site (which decreases looting) and all that other good stuff can fall naturally into place.

Dear Susan,


The quote you read is from the same Costas Christ I mentioned above.

I recently took a 24k trek through the Monegros mountains of Aragon. This area does not have a lot of historic monuments, but it does have a lot of history. For example, it is included on a "George Orwell Route" that traces the areas that this writer visited (and fought in) during the Spanish Civil War. I couldn't help noting that although more than two-hundred people participated in the 24k walk, very few left plastic bottles or other garbage along the route. In general, they showed respect  for the territory. I have also noticed this respect among birdwatching tourists. I believe this behavior is not only due to these tourists' love of nature, but also to their level of preparedness. What we shouldn't do is herd thousands of people to a site who aren't prepared for what they are going to see. This is an argument for putting more emphasis on (and funding into) programs that support trained, local tourist guides and educational options for tourists.
Susan Kennedy said:

I read a quote once that went something like this: "Tourism is like fire. You can use it to cook with or it can burn your house down." Tourists are naturally curious - or they wouldn't be traveling. As a result, they will oftentimes take their curiosity to extremes if they are allowed - taking pictures wherever they can to show friends and family back home the exotic locales they visited while on vacation. It is the job of governments (oftentimes with the help of NGOs) to manage tourists. This means putting up "Do Not Enter" signs and building things like wooden platforms to walk along rather than allowing tourists to trample over stones of once ancient temples now lying in ruins. It also creates more "sense of respect" for the place when tourists are told what they can and cannot do - and having local officials walking around and policing the area adds to that feeling. It is our job as managers of heritage sites to make sure tourists are controlled in order to mitigate any negative impacts. Then, of course, the benefits for local communities, including possibly a newfound respect for the site (which decreases looting) and all that other good stuff can fall naturally into place.
Tourism is more of a blessing than a curse. It all depend on how resources are managed. Like some discussants have said, carrying capacity measures to check the inflow of tourists to a site could be applied; responsible tourism could be taught to tourists as way of orientation or information on arrival to sites, monetary fines could be introduced where any tourists go against the rules; certain viewing distance could be maintained between some very delicate features or objects and tourists among others.
What an excellent metaphor. I'm optimistic that we've moved past general philosophical discussions of whether tourism is inherently good or bad and are now moving towards more targeted conversations of how to appropriately manage and respond to an increased popular demand for visiting many of these amazing sites. To me, in general the photo above is still a good problem to have. Yes, it illustrates that there is a management issue. I'm personally very excited by the growing interest in World Heritage tourism. I agree with you, Susan, that the challenge will be how the international community (the governments, NGSs, etc.) can ensure that the influx of tourist dollars can be appropriately re-channeled back into site management, as well as used to benefit and educate the surrounding community.

Susan Kennedy said:
I read a quote once that went something like this: "Tourism is like fire. You can use it to cook with or it can burn your house down." Tourists are naturally curious - or they wouldn't be traveling. As a result, they will oftentimes take their curiosity to extremes if they are allowed - taking pictures wherever they can to show friends and family back home the exotic locales they visited while on vacation. It is the job of governments (oftentimes with the help of NGOs) to manage tourists. This means putting up "Do Not Enter" signs and building things like wooden platforms to walk along rather than allowing tourists to trample over stones of once ancient temples now lying in ruins. It also creates more "sense of respect" for the place when tourists are told what they can and cannot do - and having local officials walking around and policing the area adds to that feeling. It is our job as managers of heritage sites to make sure tourists are controlled in order to mitigate any negative impacts. Then, of course, the benefits for local communities, including possibly a newfound respect for the site (which decreases looting) and all that other good stuff can fall naturally into place.

Thanks for emphasizing what a boon tourism actually is for the heritage sector. While we could be discouraged by the challenge of managing this new influx, I was glad that you noted how we have already developed many of the tools to prevent some of the more deleterious impacts of site visitation. 

 

Also, thanks for using Jordan as an example. For those interested in learning more about what devices they've implemented there to improve site management and maintenance, I strongly encourage you to visit the MEGA Jordan project website: http://www.megajordan.org/ 

 

- Kristina Nugent


Dana Atallah-Gagan said:

Tourism is one of the largest industries in the world and provides jobs to almost 220 million worldwide (http://www.wttc.org). Tourism, if developed to sustain cultural heritage sites and support the local communities surrounding these sites, provides a catalyst for economic development and poverty reduction not just in the immediate communities, but similarly on a regional and national level. It is necessary and essential that local and federal governments, and the local people alike are aware of the economic importance and vitality of such sites and other cultural heritage activities such as festivals and traditionally made handcrafts in order for them to support efforts to conserve, preserve and sustain the sites for generations to come.

Negative impacts, while they exist, can be minimized but adopting carrying capacity policies, site management, and developing laws to protect the sites. Tourism is considered one of the top economic sectors in many countries with cultural heritage sites. Eliminating or reducing the size of the industry in such nations would have devastating impact on their perspective economies. As an example, Jordan, with three world heritage sites and many others on the UNESCO tentative list, has come a long way in the last 15-20 years in managing cultural heritage sites, making them more accessible to tourists and providing economic and social returns to the local communities. However, I'm sure the work is not done there and in many other places around the world.

Dana

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