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Monday, October 17, 2011

We need to delink heritage from tourism

Friends asked me why bother to preserve places that few tourists are likely to visit. My reply: We need to delink heritage from tourist attractions. Heritage sites are what define us as a people and nation. Most countries preserve heritage sites for national education and identity. We must stop looking at everything from a profit perspective. We are a nation, not a mall and certainly not a corporation.

Let's use the UK as an example.  Apart from the top tier attractions such as the British Museum, Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London (plus maybe five to ten other attractions), London has over 300 other museums and numerous other historical homes and conservation sites, most of which attract hardly any non-British and indeed even few locals. Why are they set up or conserved? Certainly not for tourism, but because they are important nationally or locally. Many of these do not attract the foreigner because they are not of global significance. A good number are not even of UK-nationwide significance but are of local/municipal significance.  

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