Culture and Its Preservation

This section briefly identifies some of the major views of culture and its physical manifestations related to tourism, as well as the means that have been used to protect heritage environments. The UNESCO World Commission on Culture and Development report Our Creative Diversity looks at culture as “ways of living together. ” With this as a point of departure, the World Bank defines culture as the whole complex of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features that characterize a society or social group.
It includes not only arts and letters, but also modes of life, the fundamental rights of the human being, value systems, traditions, and beliefs. The above reflects the separation of culture and cultural heritage into both movable and immovable forms. This report focuses primarily on culture’s immovable forms, recognizing that the “cultural landscape” includes expressions of traditions and lifestyles that must be taken into consideration when looking at effective ways of safeguarding a community’s cultural heritage.
Culture and cultural heritage are prominent resources in any society. Tangible heritage may be considered a material manifestation or symbol of cultural expression, either traditions of living society or those of past societies occupying the same area. Therefore, material heritage is pivotal for anyone wanting to gain a deeper understanding of the society. This applies to the local inhabitants as well as the visitor to a new or foreign society or environment.

A great deal of the activity within cultural heritage preservation has been concerned with maintaining single buildings of architectural significance and connected with important events and people. Various actors have been involved in this process, including non-governmental organizations, all levels of government, and developers. Concerns with the limitations of identifying and protecting single buildings have led to laws and regulations that protect entire environments.
This allowed the process to involve more people in heritage conservation, and it defined a past that included the ordinary as well as the most significant. Many countries maintain heritage sites for interpretation and education; these are often characterized by high levels of research and documentation, as well as government management. Steadily increasing demand for culture-oriented activities affects cultural heritage of interest at all levels, from world heritage belonging to international society or mankind in general to heritage of national, regional and local significance.
Preservation issues and challenges vary accordingly. In many developing countries, the legal framework for protecting heritage is better than the management capacity. Surveying and monitoring systems for controlling the state of conservation of cultural heritage and taking the necessary precautions present great challenges. Throughout the world, festivals and events – often linked to or performed in areas with cultural relics or at sites of cultural and natural significance – are now seen as important dimension of cultural tourism.
They play important roles in helping to maintain cultural traditions and values while providing communities with the ability to create jobs and income. Handicrafts often form an important dimension of a region’s cultural tourism experience. Tourism can be important in helping to maintain and develop traditional craft skills, though there is also the risk that increased demand leads to a loss of authenticity in terms of process and product.
The discussion of different forms also reflects that heritage, and conservation, can occur at different spatial scales, including that of a single artifact, a single building, a streetscape, an area, an entire historic town/city, a region/landscape, and even up to national and international scales. There are several reasons for public and private sector involvement in cultural heritage management (CHM), including:
• The recognition that heritage resources can play an important role in community continuity, renewal, and development. • The increased quality of life associated with heritage resources. The role of heritage resources in creating and maintaining individual and community identity. • The value of heritage resources in the education of children. • The role that heritage resources can play in providing for pleasure/recreation opportunities. • The role that heritage resources can play in economic revitalization and tourism development. The latter reason is the focus of the present report, but the non-tourism benefits are noted here to illustrate how the value of culture and cultural heritage goes beyond serving as tourism attractions.