Factors Affecting the Growth of Heritage Tourism Destination
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A simple definition of heritage is “a legacy from the past that is passed to the future generation.” It could be physical (sites like mountains, lakes and forests) or historical in nature (historical sites such as battlefields). One of the ways, through which the current generations get this legacy, is paid visits of those places that are of great importance for them to learn and experience their heritage at its best (Amal & Robinson 2009). This, therefore, gives rise to heritage tourism. Heritage tourism also known as cultural heritage tourism is the branch of tourism, which involves visiting both historical and industrial facilities. This is traveling for visiting historical sites and learning history from them. This is journey to cultural, historical and natural sites in order to experience the places, artefacts and activities that represent the stories and people of the past and present (France 1997). People visit these sites for various motives such as exploration and adventure among many others. Heritage tourism has been on the rise as it is evidenced by the increase of tourists, who are interested in adventure, archaeology, history, culture, and their desire to interact with the local population. It has a significant impact on the world economy, and it has helped in the conservation of cultural resources. It also led to accurate interpretation of historical facts and created a better understanding of human history (Destination Cleveland County 2009).
The Main Body
Rome, the capital of Italy, is one of the most important objects of heritage tourism in the world. Rome is one of the widely known tourist destination, which attracts people from all over the world. It invites millions of tourists every single year (Hannam & Diekmann 2011). The question is what factors have been in the forefront in encouraging heritage tourism in Rome. What reasons cause people to travel from various parts of the world to this city in the name of heritage tourism? Indeed, several factors make Rome one of the most famous tourist places in the world.
a) Need to Create a Sense of Belonging by the Young Generation
One of the main factors promoting heritage tourism in Rome is the urge to have a sense of belonging to Italians. Italian citizens get most of their traditions from the Roman Empire, which had its capital in Rome. The younger generations, who are eager to learn their history, have a great desire to travel around the city in order to experience their old traditions and see how rich their traditions were by themselves (Di Giovine 2009). They want to learn from their past in order to feel that they adequately know the tradition, to which they belong. This has encouraged the citizens to engage in heritage tourism, in Rome. Those Italians, who live outside their country, also have a great desire to feel connected to their homeland, and one way they achieve this is through visiting a place that is rich in history. In addition, tourists from those countries, which were under colonial rule of the Roman Empire, are interested in knowing more about the power that influenced their lives and continues to influence them even to date. They want to learn about the Roman civilization, from which their modern civilization comes, just to create a sense of belonging and feel them a part of history.
b) Globalization and Advanced Modern Technology
The world has become a global community encouraging massive interaction. People across the globe want to get know different cultures around the world because whatever happens in the world affects their lives. The world is becoming closer due to modern technology, which facilitated communication around the globe (Cartographia 2010). This has created a global awareness as people around the world have access to relevant information about the places, which they can visit to learn history and be acquainted with the past. Through improved communication and access to data on places that are rich in history such as Rome, more and more tourists across the globe have found themselves interested to visit this city. Modern means of transport such as electric trains developed with the latest technology facilitated travelling across Europe for tourists. Thus, visiting Rome is easier today than ever before. This opened the city for more and more tourists. Well-developed infrastructure also encouraged tourists to access its fascinating sites easily and quickly. Therefore, this promoted heritage tourism (Brebbia 2012).
c) Low Cost Carriers
Another factor contributing to the growth of heritage tourism in Rome and other heritage sites is the reduction of freight charges and other travelling expenses. Previously, most of the companies that people used to fly across Europe did not face such stiff competition as they face today. They almost exercised a monopoly, and their freight charges were exorbitant. This has changed significantly due to increased competition experienced in the industry, and the impact of this is a massive reduction of travelling expenses for both local and foreign tourists. As a result, people get the capacity to visit Rome and other fascinating sites. In addition, various airline companies making the city easily accessible from everywhere in the world opened more routes. This created a larger market for this beautiful city and increased a number of heritage tourists, who are more than willing to visit the fascinating city (Capello 2011).
d) The Rich History of Rome
In order to attract tourists, any tourist site must have something unique to offer because tourists will come only when assured that they will get the quality equivalent to their expenditure. Rome offers fascinating sites for tourists and has a great history that has influenced the world for many years and continues to influence it up-to-date. The Roman Empire has one of the most remarkable histories, of which Rome can be proud. The Roman Empire has influenced the world politics for several decades (Hannaa & Diekmann 2011). It was the main source of leadership in the world during the early days of civilization, and modern civilization derives a lot from it even today. One of the oldest and religious institutions has its headquarters in Rome. The Catholic Church, which influences the world socially, politically and economically, has its headquarters in Rome. It commanded during early civilization and still affects the whole world today. Architecture and its great paintings is a key factor that attracts tourists to Rome. As a religious pilgrimage, it attracts millions of both local and foreign tourists, who come for Christian festivities (Cukier 2006). It is home to the papacy, which is a source of influence across the globe. The richness of its history has been one of the main factors, which make tourists travel around the world in order to come and see the role it has played in the world civilization and leadership.
e) Political Stability and Peace Enjoyed in the Country
Italy enjoys peace and political stability. It is friendly to its neighbours, and this has made a great impact on its tourism industry. Tourists would like to visit a peaceful country, where they feel safe (Bremer 2004). The fact that Rome has enjoyed peace for decades positively influenced heritage tourism in the city. Security is highly enhanced in the country and around its tourism sites. The country is politically stable and peaceful. This coupled with other factors like its strategic location has a big impact on the influx of tourists in Rome and other parts of Italy. Thus, peace and stability experienced in this country makes tourists feel safe and even have a desire to visit the country once again because of its secure position (Amal & Robinson 2009).
f) Increased Desire for Both Academic and Scientific Research
Increased desire for academic and scientific research has also led to increased heritage tourism in the city of Rome. Various scholars are interested in the Roman history given the influence it has had on today’s civilization (Buhalis & Costa 2006). The Roman history is a case study of many scholars around the world, who are doing research on the various aspects of Roman influence on the human history. It has one of the most fascinating architectures, from which numerous architects yearn to learn and develop similar or improved structural design for their countries. Great paintings by the famous architect, Michelangelo, on the Sistine Chapel attract millions of tourists, who are interested in his works and who would like to learn from him. Great artists like Bernini and Bramante, who once lived in the city of Rome, fascinate those scholars, who are interested in music (Leslie 2012). These are some of the great personalities, who have enormously contributed to Renaissance and Baroque architecture of Italy. Therefore, they remain very conspicuous in the human history and, hence, attract attention of many scholars across the globe. They go to learn music, in which these artists were famous, and influence their music has had on the human history (Kavanagh & Leung 2000). Christian scholars make Rome one of their most important destinations. The reason is that Christianity, which is a worldwide religion, spread from Rome.
The founders of Christianity, including Saint Peter, lived and died in Rome. This caused considerable interest among Christian scholars, who are interested in studying the facts with regard to the origin of Christianity and its spread to other regions of the universe. The belief of Catholic Church is that he was their first Pope (Ballo 2011). Famous scientific researchers are also among those, who are at the top of the list of heritage tourists, who go on a tour to Rome for scientific research. Artefacts and tools used by man in his early civilization days and great discoveries made at this time attract much attention from scientists, who want to learn about people, who made those great discoveries and ideas, which led to those discoveries.
g) Government Policy on Tourism
The Italian government just like any government in the world plays an extremely important role in encouraging heritage tourism in the country. The government encourages the preservation of heritage sites and creation of the required consciousness on the need to protect and conserve the past legacy of the country for the future generations (Hogg 2006). It is through these efforts of the government that historical sites and other natural objects in the country have survived until now. In addition, the government has been very instrumental in advertising to the whole world. This made Rome the third most frequented city in Europe according to statistics from various research groups in recent years (Frew et al2011). This attracts more and more heritage tourists to come to Rome for adventure and exploration. Therefore, it is clear that adoption of a friendly policy in the field of tourism and conservation of tourism sites have contributed significantly to the increased influx of heritage tourists in Rome (Richards 2009).
h) Welcoming Culture of Italians
The welcoming culture of Italian citizens has also boosted heritage tourism in Rome. The people are hospitable and ready to greet and interact with visitors from all over the world. No tourist would like to visit a hostile country, where one is viewed with contempt and suspicion. Hospitality of the people is very important in encouraging heritage tourism (Cukier 2006). Heritage tourism involves many interactions between tourists and the locals, and this can happen only if the locals are ready to intermingle with visitors. This hospitality allows tourists to learn more about the culture of the people in Rome and get a clear explanation of its traditions and fascinating sites. This interaction makes them feel free as at home. It is probably true that this interaction between the locals and tourists made visitors become one of them as in the saying “when in Rome behave like Romans”.
i) Improved Living Standards and Economic Prosperity of Most World Economies
The world is getting richer and richer every day. Most economies have recorded positive growth of their respective economies, and, hence, the living standards of people have improved. People became wealthier, and, hence, the majority of them have enough resources to visit places of their choice. This has resulted in increased desire for adventure and exploration of fascinating sites around the world (Larson & Steves 1997). Economic empowerment of individuals has led to the influx of heritage tourists across the globe, including Rome. The more resources are possessed by people, the more they visit places and make merriment. Therefore, economic empowerment is a key factor that has promoted heritage tourism in Rome among other places (Hall 2003).
Therefore, it is clear that heritage tourism is on the rise, and it has contributed positively to both the social and economic aspects. It establishes and reinforces the identity of people and helps them to preserve their cultural heritage. It also promotes cohesiveness and peaceful co-existence, endorsing harmony and understanding among people in the current world in such a way. It helps to maintain various cultures and preserve various sites for the future generations, as well. In fact, this is one of the main reasons why most governments in the world are actively involved in encouraging heritage tourism in their countries (Di Giovine 2009). The city of Rome is one of the world’s most exciting heritage tourism sites due to its rich history. It played a very crucial role in modern civilization, and most of the world history revolves around this ancient city.
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