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Heritage authenticity and tourism souvenirs

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    Heritage is seen as a link between the past and the present with the use of traditions and memories of the community. Heritage is able to bring meaning to tourism products since every tourist site has their own story and memories but also traditions that people perceive in different ways (Bessiere, 2013). Tourists are always traveling to places to find new and exciting experiences but also at the same time they prefer to have an enjoyable and satisfactory vacation (Dallen and Boyd, 2006). Heritage must be conveyed in the most authentic way possible no matter if it concerns a historical building, a landscape or an artifact (Dallen and Boyd, 2006). Like said before heritage is  more about making or mesmerizing on a good story rather than the site or product itself. Without these stories the sites would not be so interesting and ordinary people couldn't tell what it relates to. This has also led to the built or staged authenticity where a tourist will only get to see an act of how something should have looked like or how things were before. These places can also include heritage in relation to book characters and sites a good example being J.R.R. Tolkien's Hobitton in New Zealand (Alberts and Hazen, 2010). 

    Heritage and souvenir shopping have gained a lot of mutual ground and they have a high demand. A souvenir can be described as something that symbolizes the culture or region for example and this way shopping for them is seen as a big part of the tourist experience. Again the souvenirs are bound into a story, a place or perhaps a time period and made especially for touristic needs (Alberts and Hazen, 2010; Chang, Wall and Hung, 2012). A way to access the past is to hold onto something, maybe a tool,  that has been used a long time ago but in this case the fakeness can come into picture. Tourism companies are making mass productions of souvenirs so they are not really real and authentic anymore rather just replicas. The tourists should be aware of this problem and buy only the real handicraft made by local people to ensure that they also get money from their heritage (Kidd, 2011). 



    ALBERTS, H.C. and HAZEN, D.H. (2010) Managing authenticity and integrity at cultural world heritage sites. The Geographical Review. Vol. 100, No. 1, pp. 56-73.

    BESSIERE, J. (2013) ‘Heritagisation’, a challenge for tourism promotion and regional development: an example of food heritage. Journal of Heritage Tourism. Vol. 8, No. 4, pp. 275–291.

    CHANG, J., WALL, G. and HUNG, J-C. (2012) Tourists' Perceptions of Aboriginal Heritage Souvenirs. Asia Pacific Journal of Tourism Research. Vol. 17, No. 6, pp. 684-700.

    DALLEN, J.T. and BOYD, S. W. (2006) Heritage Tourism in the 21st Century: Valued Traditions and New Perspectives. Journal of heritage tourism. Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 1-16.

    KIDD, J. (2011) Performing the knowing archive:heritage performance and authenticity. International Journal of Heritage Studies. Vol. 17, No. 1, pp. 22–35.


    Written by Marianne Mokkala

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    Hi Marianne,

    especially the authenticity of souvenirs is a really interesting and challenging topic. Personally I think that is super difficult to buy authentic souvenirs at very touristic places. For example a key chain of the Eiffel tower, can that be seen as inauthentic?! Just because it is maybe produced in China?! I mean it is still a symbol of Paris, so part of the real authentic tourism experience of the city. What do you think about this, because you say in your last sentence that tourist should "buy only the real handicraft made by local people"?

    Posted 16:20, 27 Nov 2014
    Hi Merle,

    I do agree with you on this that it is difficult to buy the authentic souvenirs in very touristic places like you mentioned. I think the inauthenticity is in the minds of the consumer at that point. But somehow I wouldn't consider them as authentic when they are produced in another country. Am not sure if a laber saying "made in France" would make any difference. :D But there are places where you can actually see the artifacts done and then purchase it, so personally I prefer these but of course I also buy the key rings and such and for me they represent the place in a same way. :) But for those handmade "at site" artifacts am also willing to pay a little extra.

    Posted 23:41, 28 Nov 2014
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