Tourism was voted as the option that has attracted most people in their leisure times. In the recent years, tourism has gone up by 9.3% that in the 1980’s in that in the year 2011 alone there was more than 983 million tourists who toured different sites across the world (Edinburgh Tourism Action Group 2012).
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This figure represented a growth of over 4.6% from 2010 where there were 940 million tourists who visited different tourist destinations all across the world. Tourists visit different destinations for different reason which may include for leisure or relaxation to learning about the culture of the people that either lived there before or live there at the moment (Buckley 2004).
In 2011, the tourism industry accounted for 1.83 trillion dollars of the total amount of money that way transacted in the year all over the world. This translated to more than 25% of the total amount of money that was transacted in the same year.
In addition to that, the tourism industry account for more than 25% of the total employees in every country all across the world which are known to have the best tourist destinations (Che & Chen 2010). The two main types of tourisms are cultural tourism and heritage tourism which account for more than 80% of the total number of tourists all across the world who visit these tourist destinations (VisitBritain 2010).
With reference to the given question, this paper will critically appraise the statement that in recent years it has become increasingly unclear the boundaries between the definitions of heritage tourism and cultural tourism. In addition to that, this paper will determine the factors that account for the complexity that exists in defining the term heritage tourism.
In the recent years, the boundaries in the definitions for the two types of tourisms, that is heritage tourism and cultural tourism, has elicited a heated debate among the stakeholders, analysts and other professionals in the tourism industry (Garrod et al. 2012).
Some of these stakeholders and analysts claim that the two types of tourism are one and the same because when a tourist goes to heritage site for visitation, he / she is there to learn about the culture of the specific people that either live there or lived there in the past. They continue to claim that this being the case that is claiming enough to make heritage tourism a branch of cultural tourism.
This debate has also been elicited when it come to finding a suitable definition for heritage tourism which would be generally accepted all across the world to make it the universal definition (Leask 2010). This has been a debate among the authors some of which who claim that it is impossible to differentiate between heritage tourism and cultural tourism because all of them mean the same (Leask& Fyall 2006).
Those in support of the claim that the two types of tourism meaning the same continue to say that the features that can be used to differentiate between the two types of tourism are the same which makes the two types of tourism one and the same thing (Lawson 2006). This claim has elicited a hot debate among other authors who claim that there are features which can be used to differentiate between the two types of tourism (Drummond et al. 2000).
This debate that has been elicited from the authors who are trying to come up with the universal definition for heritage tourism has been proof enough that over the years the boundary between heritage tourism and cultural tourism has increasingly become very narrow which make it very difficult for anyone to be able to differentiate between the two types of tourism, that is heritage tourism and cultural tourism (Leask & Rihova 2010).
Among the definitions that have been elicited from these authors, it has been clear that heritage tourism is a kind of tourism where the tourists visit places or sites from the past. These places and sites can be historical buildings to sceneries that represent the past (Fyall et al. 2008).
One of the major factors that has continuously increase the debate among the professionals in the tourism industry is the fact that heritage tourism is a tour of the past in which most cases is to study the culture of the people who either lived there or are currently living there (McIntyre 2009).
This has been on the forefront in fueling the debate which has made it even more difficult for the professionals and stakeholders to find the real definition for heritage tourism and be able to differentiate it from cultural tourism.
In addition to that, analysts and professionals have found that these heritage sites and places have different meaning to different people in that when different tourists visit the same place, each and every tourist will have a different experience so of which include the cultural differences that they experience (Ung & Vong 2010).
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This being the case in most heritage tourists, professionals in the tourism industry have been able to categorize heritage tourists into two major categories. These two main categories are heritage tourists who are serious and heritage tourists who are just casual (Whitfield 2009). These two types of heritage tourists have very distinctive feature which makes it easy for any to differentiate them (Hall & McArthur 1996).
The heritage tourists who are serious always visit places for specific reasons. Some of these reasons may include discovery or learning. With this kind of heritage tourists, the places the visit is the main centre of their trip in that they visit these places because they have special interest in them (Aas et al. 2005).
For the heritage tourists who are casual, they visit places just be cause they have seen them and not because they have specific reasons for visiting. These heritage sites and places they visit are not the main focus of their trip in that they jus visit because they have found the place to be interest and they usually do not have a special interest in these places and sites (Mencarelli et al. 2010).
For heritage tourism to flourish in any given country, the stakeholders in the tourism industry in these countries must be able to understand these types of heritage tourists so as to be able to deliver a quality experience. The quality experience can only be delivered when the stakeholders are able to know the specific needs of these tourists and what they want from the trip so as to be able to plan and know how to handle them.
This will in turn translated to more and more people visiting these heritage sites which will increase the income that is being experienced from these places (Reynisdottir et al. 2008). This will in turn translate to an increase in the profit margins that will be experienced by the tourism industry and in turn lead to an increase in GDP of the given country (Kim et al. 2007).
In addition to that, heritage tourism gives every tourist a change to connect with his personal self. This gives the tourists a chance to be able to reflect on themselves in that to be able to understand who they really are and where they really came from. This gives the tourists a chance to have a different experience in that every individual will be able to have a different experience from each other and this will give each of them a chance to connect with culture to understand it correctly (Leask & Yeoman 1999).
The main reason for this is because professionals in the tourism industry have found that heritage tourism is in one way or the other connected to the culture of different people and places. When a tourists visits these heritage sites they are able to understand the different cultures of the people that either lived there or currently live there which will in turn lead him / her to understand some of the most important aspects of culture because culture is the most important aspect of any given community in the world (Poria et al. 2004).
In addition to that, heritage tourism also helps the tourists to understand the importance of having a culture in that each and every human being belongs to a culture and also sows them the importance of having to follow the culture because that is what determines who we are in the society.
On the other hand, heritage tourism teaches them that culture is the identity of any human being in that for one to be identified he / she must belong to a different culture (Hampton 2005).
This has in turn led to the fueling of the debate on the universal definition for heritage tourism because some of the professional that when the tourist are able to connect with the culture of any given place or people, then that transforms from being heritage tourism to cultural tourism because instead of finding out the heritage of these places or people the tourists will start learning about their culture (Shackley 1998).
On the other hand, it has also become increasingly difficult to find a universal definition for cultural tourism because as one can be able to see, the two types of tourism are somewhat the same with features that are the same in nature which make it difficult for the professional to find a clear line between the two (Howard 2003,).
This has also elicited a heated debate with some authors claiming that the two types of tourism can not be distinguished from each other while others claim otherwise (Robinson et al. 2000). Professionals have claimed that the two types of tourisms have a direct connection and that is why it has become increasingly difficult for people to differentiate between which is which among the two types of tourism (Smith 2003).
World organizations that deal with the tourism industry have increased the pressure on the authors, analysts and professional to come up with a universally accepted definition for the two types of tourism because more and more people are becoming confused on which type of tourism is which (Harrison & Hitchcock 2004).
The organizations say that by the stakeholders coming up with a definition for the two types of tourism it will make it easier for country to know which type of tourism they are marketing which will reduce cases of confusion among the people involved in the tourism industry (Richards 1996).
In addition to that, they continue to that that this will help the tourists know what type of tourism they want because most of them do not really understand the types of tourisms that are there and the lack of proper and universally accepted definitions has been a confusing factor for the tourists.
The countries that have heritage sites and places must come up with a management plan that will enable the tourists to be able to understand more clearly what they are offering. For this to be able to happened, the professionals and other stakeholders in the tourism industry must come up with universally accepted definitions to give the countries a guideline on the features that are involved in heritage tourism and cultural tourism (Page & Hall 2003).
The professionals must also be able to come up with features that would be able to differentiate the two types of tourism which will make it easy for involved countries to market their tourism destinations in the right way without confusing the two types of tourism, that is heritage tourism and cultural tourism (Timothy & Boyd 2003).
It is very difficult for countries to market their heritage sites without clear definitions for heritage tourism and cultural tourism and if this is done the countries will be able to market their heritage sites and in turn maximize on the profit that is to be collected through revenue from these heritage site and places.
The tourists themselves become confused on the type of tourism they want to experienced and that has increased the pressure for the professionals and analysts in the tourism industry to work extra hard in a bid to finding s solution to the universally accepted definitions for the two types of tourism (Timothy & Nyaupane 2009).
In that sense, the author of this paper has discovered that heritage tourism is somewhat connected to the past but not necessary in the sense of culture and that is the major difference between the two types of tourism.
Heritage tourism is a tour of the past which many be historical events and other types of things that may have taken place in the past and not necessary to study the culture of the people that either lived there or are currently living there. Heritage tourism can also be a tour of historical sites and places which give it the major difference in that people are able to connect with the events that took place in the past which does not necessary have to be the culture (McKercher & du Cros 2002).
In conclusion, it has increasingly become unclear how the two types of tourism, that is heritage tourism and cultural tourism, can be separated in terms of their definitions which has elicited a heated debate among the stakeholders and other professionals in the tourism industry. In addition to that, these professionals have been under pressure to find a universally accepted definition for the two types of tourism.
With that regard, the author of this paper states that heritage tourism is a type of tourism where people are able to learn about the past. The things to be learnt may include historical events or even historical sites. Lastly, heritage tourism is not a branch or cultural tourism.
This definition that has been offered by the author of this paper will be able to differentiate between cultural tourism and heritage tourism in the sense that for cultural tourism the main focus is about the culture of the people that either lived there or are currently living there but for heritage tourism, the main focus is not necessarily the culture of the people there but can also be other historical events that took place in the past. This will in turn help people in understanding the two types of tourism in detail.
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