Tourism is one of the largest industries in the world today that consists of eco-tourism, beach tourism, cruises, cultural tourism and business tourism. This essay will mainly discuss the authenticity of cultural tourism. Meethan suggested in 2001 that modern cultures and societies are just as authentic as those that are present since decades and even centuries. Meethan here is correct, because the tourists really seek a dispersed experience in cultures both modern and old. However, many people think that only the traditional cultures and original artefacts come under the definition of authentic cultural tourism.
Even the tourists have a different insight of what constitutes the authenticity in cultural tourism. This essay will talk about these issues and their implications for cultural tourism. Cultural tourism, according to World Tourism Organization (WTO), is the visit of the interested tourists to culturally rich destinations and their visit consists of a range of activities such as visits to heritage buildings and sites, attending performances of the local artists, taking part in traditional festivities and pilgrimage of holy places.
Many do not agree with this narrow definition by WTO as the cultural tourism is synonymised with the civilizations and the way of living of the historic societies in that tourist destination. The local residents are mostly ignored from the definition and also from the concept of cultural tourism. However, the truth is that the locals make up for the major part of the experience of tourists. Their way of living and the current culture of the residents if often revitalized for enhancing the experience of the tourists.
This forced influence on the local cultures for attracting more tourists is hurting the authenticity of the cultures in tourist destinations (Clarke 2003). Although it is true that tourists seek a combination of modern and traditional cultures on their destinations, but they prefer to consume traditional and modern tourism separately. Some of the tourists just fly from East to West for sinking into the beauty of traditional culture. These tourists want to enjoy the tradition by visiting cultural heritage buildings, attending traditional theatres and listening to the cultural songs of the destination.
However, some cultural entrepreneurs try to blend the modern aspects with the traditional culture for the promotion of the destinations. There is a triangle of the cultural entrepreneurs, the tourists and the residents of the destination. The culture of the destination is defined by the way of living of the residents and the activities of the entrepreneurs. For the purpose of expanding the business, attracting more tourists and enhancing their sales, the local hosts and cultural entrepreneurs force the residents to change their way of living and link it to the culture.
This is done in order to present the tourists with a cultural experience. Hungary has been known for the production wine and the tradition of small wine shops with their own vineyards. These shops and the people involved in the production of wine were of a particular attraction to the tourists as they saw this tradition of wine production as a rich culture. As tourism thrived, there were attempts to increase the production of wines through both, the government authorities and through the cultural entrepreneurs. However, this mass production of wine was not as successful as the wine from small wineries.
This is the threat to the authenticity of the culture and the tourists proved that they did not like this blend of modern and traditional culture in Hungary. They proved that they preferred the traditional culture over the modern culture as the mass production of Hungarian wine was not successful. The tourists came to this Hungarian destination for the experience of the traditional small wineries and not for the wine. The tourists also did not get any special treatment by the independent wine producers in Hungary because they considered the tourists as a source of sales.
The tourists were not treated any differently from other customers and they were given the sale offer; taste it and purchase it if you like it. This was because the only interest for the wine producers was the revenue from the sale of the wines and nothing more. In this case, the original culture was not touched by the cultural entrepreneurs, and minimal accommodation was made for the tourists such as the use of local wood for furniture. This resulted in the reduction of wine tourism in this area as there was no cultural entrepreneurship.
There was nothing more in the offer except the wine, but afterwards some food dishes were also added to the menu but the tourism still was low because of the more complex wine tourism efforts by the other countries. The other countries excelling in wine production attracted more tourists than Hungary because they were able to blend the modern and traditional culture. Another case that supports the view of Meethan is the case of “Valley of the Arts” which attracted millions of customers each year at the arts festival that was organized by Istvan Marta.
The organizers gave a deep thought on the cultural perspectives of the valley and they came to the conclusion that different tourists have different needs. The high spenders would require different type of product than attending just a simple art festival. The venues were made better and redesigned and the marketing efforts were doubled. The organizers attracted sponsorships and media coverage and hence added to the appeal. The locals were also involved and were allowed to attend the shows and these events were transformed into a very fashionable one.
Soon the streets became crowded with high end cars owned by the German tourists. Hence, from these two case studies, the lessons learnt are that an entrepreneurial spirit is necessary for the promotion of the cultural tourism focusing on the core of the activity. Hence, modern and traditional cultures need to go hand in hand for the attraction of the international tourists. The commercial intent is necessary but the tradition should be kept alive which is the driving force for the tourists.
The tourists should be given added facilities to augment the sales and attract the high spenders and luxury seekers. While Alan Clarke was working in the rural areas of Hungary, the local tradition was kept alive but still the communication technologies had a lot of penetration. The list of available international channels was far more than the number available in United Kingdom. The rural areas had access to Hungarian, Italian, Spanish, French, German, American and Russian channels (Clarke 2003).
Jaipur, a culturally rich city of India, is particularly selected as a destination by tourists because of its historical attractions including the handicrafts and the heritage. Jaipur inhibits some of the forts built by the Moguls, centuries old paintings, the preserved sculptures and the traditional excellence in architecture that is preserved in buildings such as mosques. The tourists are also keen to visit Jaipur because of the folklore dances and Sufi music that was inspired by pundits and saints centuries ago.
However, the city is continuously gearing up and adding more hotels and hi-tech facilities for the tourists. The core product of tourism in this city is the same for all tourists, but different income level groups can enjoy different class of tourism in this city (Kala 2008). High spenders can opt to spend their evenings in luxury spas while the people belonging to lower income group can live in small hotels and save money to spend on the purchase of handicraft and sculptures.
According to a survey on the local residents, around 85% of the residents of Jaipur think that there was an evidence of development of city because of tourism and more entertainment facilities such as pubs, bars, hotels, swimming pools and parks were being developed. In the city, the local small scale industries were also being promoted by the government as the handicraft items were in demand by the foreign tourists. New hotels were also being built for accommodating the increasing number of tourists over time. This has induced employment and created new job opportunities for the local residents.
Around 81% of the respondents in Jaipur thought that employment was being generated in the city because of the increasing tourism. Hotels and restaurants are labour intensive and hence they require the locals to work in their facilities. This generates more jobs for the local residents. Increasing tourism had positive impacts on the economy, but the locals have to face the problems such as increased traffic jams in the city and change in the culture. The way of living of the locals change as the standard of living gets better.
Once the international tourists start coming in, and development start, then the primary culture is forgotten. 71% of the respondents of a survey in Jaipur commented that the increase in tourism has affected their traditional culture (Kala 2008). This change in traditional culture and way of living could harm the cultural tourism industry in the long term because the tourists will not be attracted to the city once the way of living of the locals is changed. The tourist-host interaction is very important in cultural tourism because it is an integral part of cultural tourism.
The cultural tourists expect a spontaneous interaction with the locals and their traditional hospitality. However, if these important elements are vanished from the Jaipur culture, then the cultural tourists will no longer be attracted to the city. From the case studies presented, it is proved that only those tourist destinations have been successful which integrated modern and traditional culture. Authenticity of the culture is affected by designing attractions for the tourists but this depends upon the definition of cultural tourism. The modern tourist, however, can no longer enjoy cultural tourism that is untouched by modernity.
There are also some issues when there is a blend of the two types of cultures. If these issues are managed properly, cultural tourism can be of great help to the economy of the destination and it can be responsible for raising the standard of living of the locals too. WORKS CITED Clarke, A. “The Cultural Tourism Dynamic. ” Conference on Developing Cultural Tourism. UK: University of Nottingham, 2003. Kala, N. “Host Perception of Heritage Tourism Impact with Special Refernce to the City of Jaipur. ” entrepreneurs 1, no. 1 (2008): 65-76.