The Inability to Define Cultural Heritage Tourism

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Among the peculiar cultural trends to crop up during the last few decades, cultural or heritage tourism is perhaps the most socially significant and the most difficult to define. Several factors influence the fluctuating meaning of the catchall term heritage tourism, including "the rather haphazard classification of things and elements as 'heritage' because people are not quite sure exactly what this title covers" (Poria, Butler, & Airey, 2003), and the increased sensitivity expressed by government agencies to the concerns of cultural entities. Although an official designation of the term heritage tourism has been provided by the federal government, in the form of Section 7 of Executive Order 13287: Preserve America, which "defines heritage tourism as: the business and practice of attracting and accommodating visitors to a place or area based especially on the unique or special aspects of that locale's history, landscape (including trail systems), and culture" (Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, 2006), there is no established consensus between the various industries involved. This inability to define heritage tourism with any modicum of certitude has spawned an academic environment in which travel writer Pat Yale, in his book From Tourist Attractions to Heritage Tourism, classifies heritage tourism as "tourism centered on what we have inherited, which can mean anything from historic buildings, to art works, to beautiful scenery" (1997), while The National Trust

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