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‘A permanently established excursion destination, a primary purpose of which is to allow public access for entertainment, interest or education, rather than being a primary retail outlet or venue for sporting, theatrical or film performances. It must be open to the public, without prior booking, for published periods each year, and should be capable of attracting day visitors or tourists as well as local residents.’ Outhart, T. Taylor, L. Barker, R. Marvell, A. (2000) Unit 1: Investigating travel and tourism, Structure of the travel and tourism industry. Advanced Vocational Travel and Tourism, London, Collins, p. 60.
Attractions can be further divided into natural and built. Built attractions have been built by man or women e.g. Hampton Court Palace was built by King Henry VIII as a royal residents and today it is a tourist attraction because of its link to royalty and its preserved art work. Natural attractions have occurred through nature e.g. Cheddar Gorge. Some attractions are run by the private sector for a profit e.g. Madame Tussauds, while others are run by charities, such as, the National Trust or controlled by the public sector e.g. Stonehenge.
Theme and leisure park attractions are action packed, family centred leisure and entertainment complexes, which often include technological versions of fun fair rides e.g. Alton Towers, Chessington World of Adventures etc. People are attracted to theme parks as it can be a family day out, as most theme parks have a variety of rides that cater for all age groups e.g. Blackpool Pleasure Beach, has a huge roller coaster, which is an attraction within itself.
Heritage and historic sites range from century old historic sites e.g. Stonehenge to castles, cathedrals and stately homes. The majority of these historic sites were erected for a specific purpose in history e.g. castles were the residents/home to royalty, cathedrals were places of worship and the Tower of London served as a jail. Many historic buildings are owned by religious organisations or government agencies e.g. the historic royal palaces. The Museums Association defines a museum as: ‘An institution which collects, preserves, exhibits and interprets material evidence and associated information for the public benefit.’ Outhart, T. Taylor, L. Barker, R. Marvell, A. (2000) Unit 1: Investigating travel and tourism, Structure of the travel and tourism industry. Advanced Vocational Travel and Tourism, London, Collins, p. 63.
In other words, they are protestors of works of art. Museums are important for regional and local areas, as they protect and exhibit works of art or history from local areas e.g. Glasgow Art Gallery and Museum attracted over a million visitors in 1998, as people were interested in Scottish history. Countryside visitor attractions provide opportunities for people to enjoy leisure pastimes e.g. picnics, walks etc. Many areas have urban parks e.g. Hyde Park in London or gardens e.g. Kew Gardens. The best-known areas of countryside attractions are the national parks. National parks are protected areas of land; they protect the fauna and flora of the local area. There are not many facilities available to the public in these areas. Some parks may offer accommodation and activities, such as; walking, abseiling or pony trekking but these activities will be limited. There are now eleven national parks in England and Wales e.g. Dartmoor, Snowdonia, Lake District etc.
All the above components of the travel and tourism industry work simultaneously to provide a total tourist experience for a tourist or visitor. It starts with a tour operator, who will plan the holiday to the travel agent, who sells the package. The airline, train or ferry will provide the transport to the hotels or campsites, where the tourist will sleep (accommodation), to whichever restaurant or take away that he/she eats from (catering). The tourist might then visit an attraction that has been promoted in some way, either by the tourist board or through the local tourist information kiosk. These components are invisibly linked but work together to make sure that the tourist enjoys his/her visit to such an extent that he/she will return or by word of mouth, to generate other visitors.