10 Social Benefits of Heritage Tourism
Social Benefits of Heritage Tourism? How can a visit to an old castle or historic site be socially beneficial? It turns out there are many ways in which heritage tourism has social benefits that affect not only tourists, but the world around them. These range from the educational opportunities provided by historic sites to the cross-cultural appreciation that comes from sharing this heritage with others, and even the medical benefits of visiting certain places on vacation. Let’s take a look at 10 social benefits of Heritage tourism which are as follows.
1) Provides opportunities for informal learning:
The opportunity to walk in our ancestors’ footsteps and learn from their mistakes and successes can be a valuable part of our social education. When you’re walking along a famous trail, it doesn’t feel like you’re just learning about people who lived long ago; heritage sites are places that welcome visitors, not ghosts. They’re living museums, full of stories waiting to be discovered by curious minds. In many cases, heritage tourism is an excellent way for children to engage with history in a way that fits into their daily lives – they get to see historical figures as real people with hopes and dreams rather than distant, historical figures. Because many heritage sites are accessible by foot or bike (or on-foot/on-bike), they encourage physical activity while providing educational opportunities. What could be better?
2) Creates social cohesion:
Much has been written about how tourism brings people together. Visiting places like museums, historic homes, etc. can help foster a sense of community and social cohesion in a country or region. This is especially important as a nation’s population ages. In Canada, for example, more than 20 percent of citizens are aged 65 and older, according to 2021 data from Statistics Canada (Stats Can). That number will only continue to rise in coming years. As these populations age, they need opportunities to interact with others their own age; heritage tourism offers that opportunity. And because many heritage sites often have restaurants and gift shops on site, there’s also an economic incentive for local communities.
3) Develops local cultural identity:
The social benefits of heritage tourism are mostly derived from being part of a larger, collective community. During vacations, people have time to interact with each other and socialize, as opposed to their daily lives where they may be distracted or overly busy. These interactions help keep communities connected with one another and develop a local cultural identity. Studies have shown that belonging to a community provides mental health benefits such as increased self-esteem and decreased anxiety. For example, in an Australian study published in Psychology of Well-Being, researchers found that greater involvement in civic activities is linked to lower levels of depression. It’s also important for children to learn about their culture and community through heritage tourism so they can grow up with a sense of place, understand who they are as individuals, and know how to contribute positively to society. In addition, because many heritage sites reflect past cultures, it’s often possible for children to learn about history in an interactive way that helps them make connections between what happened in the past and what’s happening today.
4) Links to Place: A sense of belonging:
People want to feel like they belong. It’s human nature to want to understand our history and place in society; heritage tourism allows people from a certain region or community to explore their shared history and identity through a tangible location. Visiting an important site allows people to learn about their local community and foster pride for where they come from, improving self-esteem and creating a sense of belonging. This is especially true for children—visiting sites that showcase historical events can inspire young learners to pursue further education and be proud of their cultural heritage.
5) Learning from the past enhances cultural diversity:
Worldwide, society is becoming increasingly homogeneous. People are moving more frequently, and more people are living in urban areas than ever before. This has led to a loss of traditional identity and customs in places where people move around a lot or simply come from elsewhere. Heritage tourism provides residents with a way to stay rooted in their own culture, whether it be religious practices, folklore or food preparation. It also allows visitors to experience these cultural differences firsthand. The result is a greater appreciation for diversity and an understanding that there’s more than one way to live life.
6) Preservation and protection of heritage sites/heritage assets/national treasures:
Through tourism, historic sites and landmarks can be preserved and protected. If a historical site is no longer economically viable through other means, tourism can offer a sustainable solution to ensure that important sites do not slip into disrepair. In addition, heritage tourism can help to preserve intangible cultural heritage such as traditional skills or crafts. (UNWTO) increased awareness and appreciation for local culture: Local culture can be lost over time, but tourism offers an opportunity to share it with others in a respectful way.
7) Development/rehabilitation of heritage buildings:
For example, many heritage buildings have been left in a state of disrepair or even partially destroyed. Others are unused or underused and ripe for development. There is also a growing interest in rehabilitating non-heritage buildings (whether publicly owned or privately owned) that can be turned into heritage tourism destinations. For example, some successful projects use non-heritage buildings to showcase cultural and historical landmarks from their location’s past. These sites might not necessarily be registered as heritage sites but still offer an experience that appeals to locals and tourists alike. This type of project helps preserve both culture and history while also creating jobs and contributing to local economies.
8) Active participation in conservation initiatives through funding:
Many heritage sites are located in rural or remote areas that offer great potential for sustainable tourism development. This includes direct linkages between cultural and natural sites, as well as promoting job opportunities within communities in a manner that is sensitive to local people’s culture and wishes. By supporting a country or region through tourism, you can help encourage community-based conservation efforts and practices. The benefits from your visit will reach beyond your immediate experiences—helping to support an industry that makes a lasting difference.
9) Connecting with Locals in an Intimate way:
People who visit a place with an interest in its history often develop a connection to their surroundings, both at home and abroad. There are countless stories that have been passed down generation to generation through rich oral histories, and these insights into a city’s past can inform its future. It’s also common for heritage tourists to have an affinity for their own country or city in which they develop a love for exploring their own roots. A desire to get to know people on a more personal level is another social benefit of heritage tourism. Visiting historic sites puts you in contact with locals and gives you an opportunity to learn about their culture and customs, fostering cultural exchange between nations. And by learning about what makes other cultures unique, we better understand our own way of life—which is key for global unity! You may even make some new friends along your journey!
10) Economic Benefits
Heritage tourism involves experiencing and learning about a particular place, and then creating new economic opportunities for locals as a result. As people travel for heritage experiences, they tend to have money to spend on local goods and services, which provides jobs for residents. It also encourages entrepreneurship by providing training in skills such as hospitality, historical interpretation, and cultural preservation. In addition to these direct impacts, heritage tourism can create indirect employment opportunities through complementary industries such as transportation, real estate development, marketing/advertising firms, etc.