Tourists in Historic Towns: Urban Conservation and Heritage Management

Tourists in Historic Towns: Urban Conservation and Heritage Management

Tourists in Historic Towns: Urban Conservation and Heritage Management

Tourists in Historic Towns: Urban Conservation and Heritage Management

Synopsis

The book examines the relationship of culture, heritage, conservation and tourism development in historic towns and urban centres, debating the impact of tourism on historic towns and role tourism plays in conservation and urban continuity.

Excerpt

Communities live and work in towns and cities; as society changes so does urban form, responding to accommodate change and growth. ‘The city is and has always been throughout the ages at the root of our culture, history, arts and traditions. It has been the birth-place of a society in constant evolution’ (Cravatte 1977:13). For its users, residents and visitors alike, the city becomes a cultural interpretation of the physical environment through personal identification and attachment. In the historic environment there are competing demands and underlying tensions between past and present cultures and between the familiarity of the old and the notion of progress attached to the new. ‘Progress has come to be identified with improvement in quantitative indicators; these concern mainly economic processes, seldom social, hardly ever cultural’ (de Kadt 1990:9).

Urban heritage is an interpretation of history by a wide range of users; its value, though, is not simply in the historic attributes of the built fabric and spatial aspects of the townscape, but also in the life of its contemporary resident community, differentiating it from other forms of heritage. It is only in the second half of the twentieth century that there has been a growing appreciation and understanding of historic urban settlements, their recognition as ‘heritage’, and a desire for area-based conservation. Through the contributions of international organisations including UNESCO, ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) and the Council of Europe, cultural heritage is becoming recognised as a significant link in urban life and the development process.

The aim of urban conservation must be to enhance the environment and ensure its continuity as a desirable place to live, ‘setting the individual person “into place” amid the insecurity of the infinite space and time, and relating him or her to a culture’ (Maguire 1982:23). Conservation is not simply an architectural deliberation, but also an economic and social issue. ‘The consideration of the human living environment cannot be divorced from the considerations of the living society itself’ (Malik 1993:82-3). Culture is an essential part of human and urban life, a dynamic and evolving component of community, a continuous link from past to present and through to the future. And as Rogers (1982:15) points out, ‘We must realise that maintaining structures means maintaining the desirability or continuity of a culture—we are in fact conserving cultures not buildings.’

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