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Discussion on the presence of the tourist on the heritage site - L. PEDUZZI

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    The internet is nowadays used by an important number of people around the world. It is then easy to obtain cultural information about any heritage site or destination (pictures, videos, historic details and stories…). With the development of technologies, digital guided tours gained popularity and it became easier for people to have the possibility to visit a heritage site without being present on it (virtual visits) (Bohlin, Brandt, 2014). Thus, we can wonder if the physical presence of the tourist is necessary to the heritage experience.

    Virtual visits are a digital visit of a heritage site supported by interactive pictures and videos enabling visitors to “walk” around the site and at the same time get cultural information or stories about it (Bohlin, Brandt, 2014). It is thus an interesting way for people around the world to take awareness of the cultural and historical heritage site of any other country. So, even if the visitor is not physically present on the heritage site, he still obtains an educational experience of the site (Poria, Butler, Airey, 2006). Moreover, being enable to provide this type of visit to the "visitors" represents a competitive advantage for the destination (Bohlin, Brandt, 2014).

    However, the digital culture cannot be applied to every kind of tourism. Indeed, it is controverted that body senses are a key of the experience of a heritage site. These senses help the visitors to develop their imagination (related to the stories told) and then develop their perception of the destination (Bohlin, Brandt, 2014). As example, we can talk about dark tourism often using emotional part of the visitors but also their different senses during a visit (Hartmann, 2014). Moreover, cuisine is considered as a heritage as well, being part of the destination culture and by the way one of the most popular heritage a destination can have. Nevertheless, this product can obviously not be experienced through the internet and then can be experienced only on the destination it-self. (Timothy, Ron, 2014).

    To conclude, virtual visits are a great advantage for the heritage sites in order to be better known and to diffuse their culture and history to the world. Nevertheless, it can only be applied to physical sites and not the other cultural aspects of a destination which involve senses of the visitors. Moreover, even if the cultural and historical aspects of a heritage site are shared virtually, the educational impact and thus the experience lived remains much more important if the visitor is physically present on the site (Poria, Butler, Airey, 2006; Timothy, Ron, 2014).



    Airey, D., Butler, R. & Poria, Y. (2006) Tourist Perceptions of Heritage Exhibits: A Comparative Study from Israel. Journal of Heritage Tourism, 1:1, pp. 51-72.

    Timothy, D. & Ron, A. (2013) Understanding heritage cuisines and tourism: identity, image, authenticity, and change, Journal of Heritage Tourism, 8:2-3, 99-104.

    Bohlin, M. & Brandt, D. (2014) Creating tourist experiences by interpreting places using digital guides, Journal of Heritage Tourism, 9:1, 1-17

    Hartmann, R. (2014) Dark tourism, thanatourism, and dissonance in heritage tourism management: new directions in contemporary tourism research,Journal of Heritage Tourism, 9:2, 166-182.



    Discussion on the authenticity of narratives on Heritage sites

    Authenticity in Heritage tourism is an important attribute for tourists who want more and more an authentic experience in their travels. Authenticity regards heritage sites, narratives, food experiences, activities and so on, for a real experience of the past (Timothy, Boyd, 2006). Concerning the narratives or stories told to the tourists on heritage sites, they represent to the tourist an important support of the experience, giving them historic and cultural details about the site (Bohlin, Brandt, 2014). However, how can the tourist be sure the narrative is a real reflect of the real story? This question gives rise to an issue which is: Who and how are composed these narratives destined to tourists?

    Indeed, narratives are mainly written by sites them-self, controlled by the national authorities responsible of it. Bohlin and Brandt (2014), confirm in their article that stories of heritage sites are an agreement between the place and the visitor. I cite: “History is constantly re-evaluated and re-written while the heritage is a product of the present created to satisfy the visitor of today” (Bohlin, Brandt, 2014)

    Indeed, it is a necessity that the story is compatible to the visitor conception of the history. If it is not the case, visitors would simply reject the story the site tell them. Moreover, it is obvious that visitors on a heritage site are coming from different countries and have different backgrounds. Then, the site will prefer to create a common story that can be compatible to all of them in order to let the visitor create its own experience. Create a suitable story aims to satisfy the demand of the site and enable a right interpretation from all of the customers (Morgan et al., 2009).

    Nevertheless, as said Timothy and Boyd (2006), “Instead of seeking reality, most tourists simply want a holiday experience that is entertaining, enjoyable and memorable”.  So do really tourists want to know the truth about their world heritage sites, or do they want to believe what they actually expect of it? To conclude, the question about the authenticity of the stories is a really interesting topic but which cannot be verified. Moreover, the fact that the stories vary according to the group market or the site does not mean the narratives are not true but simply adapted to the people who will be listening to it in order to fit with the expectation of this one.



    Timothy, D. and Boyd, S. (2006). Heritage Tourism in the 21st Century: Valued Traditions and New Perspectives. Journal of Heritage Tourism, 1 (1), pp1-6.

    Morgan, M., Elbe, J., and de Esteban Curiel, J. (2009). Has the experience economy arrived? The views of destination mangers in the three visitor-dependent areas. International Journal of Tourism Research, 11(2), pp.201-216.

    Bohlin, M. & Brandt, D. (2014) Creating tourist experiences by interpreting places using digital guides, Journal of Heritage Tourism, 9:1, 1-17

    Timothy, D. and Boyd, S. (2006). Heritage Tourism in the 21st Century: Valued Traditions and New Perspectives. Journal of Heritage Tourism, 1 (1), pp1-6.


    Laetitia PEDUZZI

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    Comments (3)

    Viewing 3 of 3 comments: view all
    I really like the topic that you brought up and found it interesting. It is true that virtual visits will somehow enhance the experience but still I feel like you have to experience the site physically like said in your text as well. I see the books and guides as the motive for travelling. Was just starting to think if there is any place that would benefit from just virtual visits, maybe Great Wall of China?
    Posted 13:03, 21 Nov 2014
    Thank you for your comment Marianne, I'm glad you liked it. Indeed, it could be a good idea to reduce the number of visitors on the monument. But I believe that virtual visits are more adapted to museums or expositions for example. Simply because monuments as the Great Wall of China or even the Eiffel Tour are heritage people want to experience by their presence on the site. We all have seen many pictures and videos of these two sites and know their history but still wish to experience them once.
    Posted 10:09, 24 Nov 2014
    It is true, people still want the experience and say that "been there done that". Hopefully some solution to the over crowding would be come u with sooner than the sites are destroyed. :(

    Posted 23:45, 28 Nov 2014
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