Wakeup Call: Let us be Passionate About Heritage Tourism
How heritage tourism is drawing importance in the travel-tourism industry and translating economies with entrepreneurial initiatives!
Heritage is what an individual or the society transfers successfully from the past to generations as memories. Travellers over a period have graduated their keenness in deciphering the heritage component, spread over geographies, cutting cultures, etc. religions across the globe. Heritage tourism is fast pacing, with the novice and seasoned travellers catching pace in unravelling the past, trying to learn from history in terms of experiential learning. To the industry, this is a big shift from regular leisure to a more connected self with the history and the surrounding. It has emerged as an important reflection to understand the past and build the future. European travellers as in Heritage tourism have taken up this belief, inheriting from the past and passing it over to generations, as an added learning. This phenomenon is fast catching up in Asia and particularly in India, with a rich history, the main source of Heritage tourism. Why not the tourism industry in India capitalizes upon it like other economies? India has a heritage in abundance and it should not miss the bus. Entrepreneurs must see an opportunity in it, rise and capitalize.
Globally, major heritage tourism attractions, be it eastern, central or western Europe, South East Asia, Japan etc. including India are important assets that depict the character of the community. Heritage spots reflect that the relationship between identity and heritage is revealed not only with nations, regions and localities but also with individuals shaping their own personal familial or cultural identity. Heritage tourism can be a powerful tool for integrating people, places, nations, economies and social traditions. This must be capitalized upon, especially from India perspective, with heritage tourism attractions in abundance be it Jammu & Kashmir, Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, virtually all Indian states. It must be explored, promoted and capitalized, providing ample opportunities to the micro-entrepreneurs, job creation, wealth creation and economic development of the region.
As part of a more inclusive and democratized heritage tourism during the last decade, there has been an increasing interest in rediscovering the past, generating new forms of heritage tourism or at least a renewed acknowledgement of existing forms of heritage tourism. These have been achieved through various measures, which have been globally adopted as an integral part of goals towards sustainable development promoted by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). Proactive measures have also been adopted by nations at the state level. It is firmly believed that the value and potential of cultural heritage if well managed, can be a key to community development. It increases the quality of life in societies that are in a constant state of evolution.
Entrepreneurial Initiatives & Innovations
Some of the successful entrepreneurial initiatives that have been implemented may be like identifying and enlisting with UNESCO World Heritage sites. Their responsibility is to maintain the heritage monuments/ sites across the world, considered as benchmarks for civilizations. In terms of innovation in Heritage tourism, education and utilization of local communities are considered to have a critical and wider role towards conservation and promoting these heritage sites. Local communities are benefitted around with the increased flow of tourists, thereby generating jobs and wealth, followed by the economic development of the surroundings. Global trends in tourism exhibit that a tourist desires to understand these heritage sites by engaging with locals, perceiving from them about their heritage. This requires a larger involvement of governments engagement with locals in achieving these goals. The other aspect expected from governments is to convert these heritage sites tourists, as friendly destinations. To achieve this, information and technology have played a vital role. Many of these innovative technologies have enriched the experience and made information easily accessible to different visitor segments such as guided tours and devices that enhance the visit (e.g. audio guides, GPS locators and mobile apps). Through new communication technologies, additional information can be shared with visitors, thereby becoming a focal point of added value to the heritage experience. How much are we prepared? If not, it is time to capitalize upon Heritage tourism.
The Other side of Heritage Tourism
Over a period of time, the concept of heritage has evolved. It has changed from visiting the heritage monuments to the experience of understanding the real meaning of these monuments in the socio-economic and political context. It is a sea change. The mere information delivery has transformed into feeling, absorbing the cultural aspect of monuments along with its stories, in the real world of the past. The change in the attitude of the tourists from mere tourists to travellers who would like to experience the local intangible cultural heritage is an upcoming trend. The concept has evolved from the local guides to the experience of delivering entrepreneurial enterprise. These provide customized heritage tours, have trained and qualified people, as story writers, historians on the street, bringing life to memories in a more meaningful way. It is high time that the government must actively promote such entrepreneurial initiatives by young entrepreneurs, engaged in carrying forward heritage tourism, which will have an everlasting impact on building the local economy in totality.
This is a wakeup call for budding entrepreneurs and the ones already testing their skills. Build your passion for Heritage Tourism with abundant opportunities waiting to be capitalized.
Dr. Manoj Joshi is a Ph.D., Fellow Institution of Engineers, Professor of Strategy & Entrepreneurship, Director, Centre for VUCA Studies, Amity University, with 27+ years of experience in industry & research. He has authored 40+ articles, co-authored two books “The VUCA Company”, “The VUCA Learner” and is also on the Editorial Board of several international refereed Journals.