Heritage or theme park? Some reflections from Portuguese experiences

Ferreira, Teresa (2012) Heritage or theme park? Some reflections from Portuguese experiences. In: ICOMOS 17th General Assembly, 2011-11-27 / 2011-12-02, Paris, France. [Conference or Workshop Item]


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Abstract (in English)

This proposal will use Portuguese examples to reflect on the relation between heritage and tourism, namely on the threats and the opportunities that it faces, as well as on the strategies and tools available for its more desirable sustainable development. Over the last two centuries, we have witnessed not only a greater awareness of the importance of architectural heritage as a historical and material document, but also a popularization of old structures as the chosen portraits of national, aesthetic, religious and political meaning. In the twenty-first century, the era of globalization and information, heritage is being re-assessed as a document for promoting our identity and collective memory. ‘Artificial memories’, developed via electronic and digital means, contribute to a growing ‘cult of monuments’ and to their superficial appropriation, which may lead to the misinterpretation of a site’s authenticity and significance. The complex, dynamic and multiple meanings developed for cultural heritage are often reduced to a self-referential cult of generic, even ‘narcissistic’, identity, playing the role of a large mirror in which we can contemplate our ideal and desired image (Choay, 1992). Furthermore, the economic sustainability of heritage requires restoration, tourism and marketing, all of which inevitably submit structures to an exhibition process that removes them from their original contexts. As a result, Heritage develops into another 'site' for general public consumption and entertainment, just like the shopping malls, stadia or theme parks. Hence, how to resist to tourism industry economics’ pressure? How to minimize the negative impacts of tourist consumption? How can we find a balance between the day-to-day management of our monuments (tours, souvenirs, events, etc) and the provision of historical and architectural experience? Is tourism the only solution for architectural heritage management? Heritage facing the challenge of tourism: what strategies, what tools? After an introductory reflection on the subject, some critical or positive Portuguese examples and guidelines are proposed for discussion.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)
Ferreira, Teresa
Languages: English
Keywords: Cultural heritage; Tourism; Tourism management; Strategies; Threats; Marketing; Sustainable development; Public awareness; Cultural identity; Interpretation; Cultural significance; Portugal
Subjects: H. HERITAGE TYPOLOGIES > 07. Cultural routes
I. CULTURAL TOURISM > 02. Tourism management
I. CULTURAL TOURISM > 03. Tourist industry
I. CULTURAL TOURISM > 04. Sustainable tourism
I. CULTURAL TOURISM > 05. Tourism impact
J. HERITAGE ECONOMICS > 03. Economic values of heritage
J. HERITAGE ECONOMICS > 05. Heritage and sustainable development
Name of monument, town, site, museum: Guimaraes, Portugal; Road of Românico, Portugal; Monastery of Santa Maria de Pombeiro, Felgueiras, Portugal
UNESCO WHC Number: 1031
ICOMOS Special Collection: Scientific Symposium (ICOMOS General Assemblies)
ICOMOS Special Collection Volume: 2011, 17th
Depositing User: ICOMOS FRANCE
Date Deposited: 16 Aug 2012 13:18
Last Modified: 08 Nov 2012 15:48
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URI: https://openarchive.icomos.org/id/eprint/1145

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