Cultural Tourism: The Partnership between Tourism and Cultural Heritage Management

Cultural Tourism: The Partnership between Tourism and Cultural Heritage Management

508 PUBLICATIONS IN REVIEW Annals of Tourism Research, Vol. 30, No. 2, pp. 508–509, 2003 Printed in Great Britain 0160-7383/03/$30.00 Cultural Touri...

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508

PUBLICATIONS IN REVIEW Annals of Tourism Research, Vol. 30, No. 2, pp. 508–509, 2003 Printed in Great Britain 0160-7383/03/$30.00

Cultural Tourism: The Partnership between Tourism and Cultural Heritage Management By Bob McKercher and Hilary du Cros. Haworth Hospitality Press (10 Alice Street, Binghamton NY 13904, USA) 2002, xii+262 pp (preface, figures, tables, cases, epilogue, references) $69.95 Hbk, $39.95 Pbk. ISBN 0-7890-1106-9

Ian Chaplin Macau Polytechnic Institute, China This book argues that a failure to appreciate the nexus between tourism and cultural heritage management results in the suboptimal delivery of cultural tourism. The management of the combined cultural heritage segment, the authors contend, tends to work in isolation, leading to many lost opportunities for providing quality experiences of fragile resources shared in a socially, environmentally, and ethically responsible manner. Based on their combined experience, McKercher and du Cros reveal the close relationship between the subjects and the imperative for professionals to engage in a dialogue. Case studies provide valuable insights into issues raised in each chapter and are drawn from lesser known but popular destinations and cultural assets in East Asia such as the Bun Festival on Cheung Chau Island, the A-Ma Temple in Macau, and the now-defunct Middle Kingdom Cultural Village in Hong Kong. The choice of cases reflects the authors’ active personal and professional interests in auditing properties and sites and revitalizing interest in cultural tourism education. Key concepts and issues impinging on the need for collaboration are identified with useful models for application. Of particular relevance is the model devised for evaluating information gathered on an asset-by-asset basis for a region or group of assets. Its purpose is to provide macro-indicators for the management of assets and insights into how to optimize the relationship between tourism and cultural heritage management. Questions posed in the model include options to be examined before converting an asset into a sustainable tourism attraction; who leads the planning and management process; and how the key stakeholder group that actually controls the asset works with the rest to reach an acceptable balance between tourism and conservation concerns. This model was tested in Hong Kong, where enlightened management of cultural heritage assets is urgently needed to realize the government’s goals of preserving such diminishing assets and promoting the territory as a cultural tourism destination. The model demonstrates the importance of cataloguing the assets to determine if a critical mass exists and if common themes connect them. Careful consideration of the spatial distribution of these assets offers insights into how they can be bundled into nodes, precincts, networks, or themed touring routes. The authors emphasize that although a critical mass of assets is important, it is even more important to be able to identify iconic ones: those that are truly unique or outstanding and will draw people to the destinations. The other model presented in the book is a typology of cultural tourists

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for determining the importance of their motivation in the decision to visit a destination. This is also applied to Hong Kong. One significant finding emerging from this research is that while world heritage attractions may invoke feelings of awe and draw large masses of tourists, they probably do not invoke feelings of personal attachment. By contrast, national, local, or personal sites engender progressively stronger feelings of connection with the site. This has implications for devising marketing strategies to meet increasing demand for more specialized forms of cultural tourism. Especially relevant to much of the research conducted by the authors is the observation made by Graham, Ashworth and Tunbridge that European societies are loath to acknowledge the cultural identities of their former colonial subjects (2000:25) . The conservation of cultural heritage assets thus becomes the responsibility of the former colonies themselves. Support for such efforts depends on extending the field of research on the management of the cultural heritage legacy and examining the special issues affecting its commodification and touristification. One final observation is that educators reading this book might reflect on whether the different philosophies and vocational characteristics embraced by tourism and cultural heritage professionals can be reconciled when many undergraduate programs are devised specifically for the pragmatic needs of the industry. Graduates are expected to become operational as soon as possible on entering the business of tourism. New employees have little opportunity to reflect on the vocation they have chosen and how it equates with arguably the more reflective professional world of cultural heritage management education. As Tribe (2002:343) points out, reflective vocationalism encourages the learner to personalize expertise and improve knowledge implicit in practices, and to find his or her own voice for development and critique of his learning action. It might be argued that the cultural heritage management student has more scope to continually reflect on the world of theory and the encountered world, encouraging the development of personalized knowledge and skills. In contrast, the tourism management student is likely to be limited to operational roles with little encouragement to reflect on the intrinsic values of cultural assets and the demands for limits on their exploitation. The authors have written authoritatively on an important but neglected area of research dealing with the subject of partnership (or its lack) between managers of cultural heritage assets and cultural tourism, which they describe as “arguably the oldest of the ‘new’ tourism phenomena” (p. 1). However, the disappointing lack of cross communication is revealed in their observation that few tourism people attend cultural tourism conferences organized by the heritage sector and few heritage people attend similar conferences organized by the tourism industry. This book can potentially help bridge the gap A between research and practice in these vital fields of the social sciences. 왎 Ian Chaplin: Macau Polytechnic Institute, PO BOX 1886, Macau SAR, People’s Republic of China. Email REFERENCES Graham, B., G. Ashworth, and J. Tunbridge 2000 A Geography of Heritage. London: Arnold. Tribe, J. 2002 The Philosophic Practitioner. Annals of Tourism Research 29:338–357. Assigned 14 August 2002. Submitted 23 September 2002. Accepted 15 November 2002 doi:10.1016/S0160-7383(02)00109-3