26 September 2008

In Defense of Heritage Tourism

Many professional historians are critical of "heritage tourism." I'm not quite sure why, unless its because they somehow feel left out. Many of them do not consider it "serious" or "sophisticated."

Do those critics really think the masses are going to attend a college level course on history or pick up a 500 page tomb about the War Between the States?

Granted, it's not the same as a university level course, but I strongly disagree that this way of experiencing and learning of our Nation's history is not "serious" or is somehow only for those who I call "T-Shirt" tourists: "Just give me a cool t-shirt, I don't have time to learn anything in depth."

Williamsburg and Jamestown are perfect examples of "heritage tourism." Though I may often find myself in disagreement in how they interpret our Nation's Christian heritage, they provide a valuable service to our citizens and help us see some of what America was like at that point in time.

Apparently, I'm not alone in my opinion as The National Trust for Historic Preservation has a page on their website which promotes this genre of history.

"The National Trust defines cultural heritage tourism as traveling to experience the places, artifacts and activities that authentically represent the stories and people of the past and present. It includes cultural, historic and natural resources." I think that definition is perfect. (Emphasis mine) More here.

By the way, my Lexington tour business is called: Virginia Heritage Tours.

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