French Cultural Heritage
Heritage in association with Tourism
Heritage and tourism professionals working together to encourage public engagement in cultural heritage is always good to see. France has built a worldwide reputation for this notion of heritage as an expression of national identity.
Local officials have a careful balancing act to perform between conservation, urban regeneration and visitor attraction. They build trust with residents by achieving coherence between local conservation, urban renewal and tourism development projects.
How do you decide what heritage is worth conserving? What guidelines do you use? These are the perennial questions best answered by someone like the regional heritage architect who steps in to advise the local community and make recommendations. [See conversation with an architect].
Community development benefits too from the association between heritage and tourism. In fact, community participation is essential to produce accurate and reliable information on local heritage for the visitor.
Heritage is a journey for residents as much as it is for visitors. How the bastide heritage collection is created defines how it might be presented to visitors. Choosing with sensitivity the content that is appropriate to reveal or hide, the memories to narrate and images to illustrate.
The scale of community participation in conservation work comes down to economic priorities in individual communities. Heritage can become a powerful contributor to social stability and sustainable economic development when residents are fully engaged.
The collective memory grows stronger through the rediscovery of forgotten heritage. Similarly, the exchange of shared memories will harmonise understanding between the generations.
Look upon heritage trails, then, as a framework for the visit, helping to orient and navigate the visitor in a self-guided way. Specifically, well-positioned signage can provide essential information in the absence of a tour guide or tourist office that is invariably closed.
To this end, the principal infrastructure accompanying any visit, namely restaurants and accommodation, becomes the ultimate determiner for time and duration of a stay. Their quality and reputation will influence recommendations to future visitors. Residents are by far the best placed to meet heritage tourism expectations, attract funding and create community-based ventures in the most sustainable way.
Read more: Creating Heritage Trails