I have a confession to make; heritage didn’t mean much to me before I began to understand the basics of heritage in tourism. I knew about UNESCO World Heritage (UWH) sites, and about heritage as other physical places, and culture as history and traditions, but I had no idea what this meant from the perspective of the destination management or development.
Sustainable Heritage Tourism in Destinations
When talking about sustainable tourism development, often only environmental and economic perspectives are being looked over. These might be the easiest issues to improve, but what about social, cultural, and ethnical perspectives? I am not going to specifically tackle these in this post, but rather the general understanding I gained from Heritage, Tourism and Hospitality, International Conference (HTHIC) 2017.
The conference had a group of 4 words for heritage, tourism, and hospitality improvement. I’m going to introduce them as the 4 Ps of Heritage Tourism
The tool of 4 Ps of HT can be used for heritage destination to increase their holistic sustainability. These tools will also be supporting each other in action, as seen in the picture; you need profit (or financial capital in the beginning) to preserve the destination, well maintaned and preserved destination for promotion, promotion for a change of presentation, and presenting the destination to gain profit.
During the conference, one destination was brought up, which has great practical examples of how to implement these words into actions.
Old Rauma and LiviHeri-project
On the second day of our trip, before the HTHIC-conference, we visited Rauma Old Town and Sammallahdenmäki – Bronze Age Burial Site, the two UWH sites near our conference destination. Old Rauma is the largest wooden old town in the Nordic countries, with about 600 buildings and 800 citizens.
The goal of LiviHeri-project (Living with Cultural Heritage) is “to learn how to live, maintain and cherish a historical town while preserving its characteristic environment and liveability“. Old Rauma is one of four partner cities in this 3-year international development project.
What I found the most innovative, was that in Old Rauma this project had led to few locals starting their Airbnb-accommodation room service. Renting out the whole apartments hasn’t worked so well for the local communities in other destinations, so people in the old town are providing a room from their own home instead. This way the experience guests are receiving is more authentic. In addition, these houses have a long and interesting history, which the project has gathered in a house book for the guests to read about.
Old Rauma Heriage Tourism practices;
- Locals presenting their history and heritage as they know it
- Stories and tales straight from the locals is an added value
- Heritage tourism services promoted and presented as a process instead of a product
- Guests can also take part in the preserving tasks and other culture activities where they are co-creating the heritage with the locals
- Guests are contributing to world heritage conservation, meaning that the income from accommodation will be used to help preserving these old houses
- Renting only rooms will help to keep the town more livable, concerning the price level of housing costs and services
- Values being sustainability, local community, liveability, authenticity
In my opinion Old Rauma and the whole LiviHeri-project really is heritage tourism in, for, and as sustainability.
LiviHeri-Project, the joint project of Rauma Town (Finland), Kuldiga District Council (Latvia), The residencies and workshop centre SERDE (Latvia), University of Turku (Finland), and Gotland Region (Sweden).
Culture is, for and as Sustainable Development by Dessein, Soini, Fairclough & Horlings (2015). This is something I will definitely be reading!