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       cultural tourism
  a definition's attempt  
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The Institute was repeatedly asked to work on the essential question of preparing heritage and culture for tourism. From the Gdansk Conference in 1997 to the preparation of the Summit of the Great region in 2000, ethical and practical questions have been asked.

What cultural tourism? How to define it? What social, cultural, and economic significance does it have? Lastly, what does cultural tourism bring to the places that accommodate it? Is it useful to them? Do they have to control it? And what is its history?

from conference to conference

Jenny de Vasson. Venise 1908. Copyright Gilles Wilkowitsch

We bear in mind that the Institutions and Associations dealing with heritage's issues proposed reflections, even Conventions and Charters on cultural tourism. We were invited to work even with UNESCO and with the World Tourism Organisation. By the same token, the programme of the cultural routes occasioned constant reflection on this subject.

Since its creation, the Institute put together a complete documentation, based on meetings in which it took part or which it co-organised with States, regions and cities, for example: Liege, Tournai and Butgenbach in Belgium; Nantes, Lyon and Paris in France; Barcelona, Logroño and Santiago de Compostella in Spain; Milan and Venice in Italy; Budapest in Hungary; Sinaïa in Romania; Sarajevo in the Republic of Macedonia; Gdansk in Poland, and even Khiva in Ouzbekistan and Hanoi in Northern Vietnam...

past centuries

Each page of the domain aimed at discovering Europe testifies to history, if not to cultural tourism, at least to the voyages and courses of Europeans in Europe. Many books, such as - to quote only the most recent French literature - the collective work published under the direction of Alain Corbin in 1995 "The Advent of Leisures 1850-1960", "Cultural Tourism in France and Europe" by Valéry Patin (1997),

"Reinventing holidays. The New Galaxy of Tourism", co-ordinated by Jean Viard in 1998 or finally "The Wheel and the Pen. How we have become tourists" by Catherine Bertho Lavenir (1999) lengthily reconsider the origin of the phenomenon, from the guides of Greece, with accounts of the voyage of the explorers, the vogue of thermal spas, to the fascination with the shore and the pure spaces of the Pyrenean and alpine mountains.

The history of tourism is marked by revolutions that always rest on new media: written media, means of transport, and today, of course, computer media.

Symbolically, it is an invention dating from mid sixteenth century, which changed the vision and the preparation of the voyage. The publication of "The Guide to the Ways of France" - the term being feminine at the time - by Charles Estienne in 1552, a work followed by the "Rivers of the Kingdom of France" and the "Voyages from Rome, Santiago and Jerusalem" constituted an essential stage.

Photo Cartier Bresson

These guides will constitute models for portable works allowing the traveller to find his way, to choose his lodgings and to guard himself against the dangers he might come across during the voyage. One can say that they will produce the following generation of large collections of European guidebooks, those of the nineteenth century, which will propose much more than practical information.

They will truly seek to educate the viewer in a coded language using aesthetic reference marks founded on "the natural wonders" and the "highlights of civil and military architecture" which "deserve the detour" or constitute "exceptional points of view" and to impose emblematic courses and routes, as well as visits to museums and arranged heritage sites, whose number increases during the century, with a marked desire to preserve and develop the "national" heritage.

At the end of the nineteenth century, popular leisure is turned rather towards sports or fishing, while the curious travellers are still aristocrats and renters who follows the rhythm of the seasons at the shore of the sea or to the mountains, launching the vogue of alpine clubs, cruises and voyages in luxury trains.

turn of the twentieth century

It is necessary on the other hand to pay attention to one of the conquests of the French Popular Front and of other comparable European movements from the thirties, since that starts a phenomenon continuing until today, namely popular tourism. The formulas for the reception of these new tourists, having paid leaves, were added to each other. They were initially characterised by communal responsibility: youth inns, holiday centres of workers' councils, villages and holiday clubs, as well as by criteria of economy: bed and breakfast, host rooms, farm tourism...

Silk route, Ouzbekistan. Photo MTP

But this popular tourism, which today became mass tourism, treated both by economic actors and by those from other industries, registered this fantastic rise only because of the considerable improvement in the speed of the means of transport, from the vogue of train excursions, passing through that of bus trips, to the success of charter flights today. "Two centuries ago still, our ancestors considered mountains horrible and seashores worrying. Only vagrants walked and slept in open air. One could hardly see anything but carts on the roads, and nobody worried about monuments and sites. And then the bicycle appeared initially, then the car, and with them modern tourism", affirms Catherine Bertho Lavenir. This new social behaviour was itself carried to its apogee starting in the sixties with the great vogue of "sea, sex and sun".

However, this presentation of the evolution of the European voyage deserves to be nuanced when one addresses the whole of Great Europe. The stages closest to this evolution are singularly different if one considers the West and the East.

The seminars in which we took part, just like the requests addressed to us by the countries of the C.I.S. or the Caucasus, even those of Central Asia located on the Silk Roads, testify to a recent will towards opening, but also to the wish to take part in the tourist industry and to recover part of the 3000 billion euros spent by travellers each year throughout the world. But all this while proposing which forms of tourism?

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 more infos ...
 other web sites
 International bureau of social tourism
  Statutes, news, congresses, ecotourism, resources
  Wordl Tourism Organisation.
 UNESCO: Cultural Tourism
 Council of Europe
  Heritage and Society.
  Cultural Tourism. Reports of the Agence française d'ingénierie touristique.
 World Heritage and tourism
 Cultural tourism and museums
 Tourism and religion
 media library
 The novel of the Grand Tour
  Focus on travels of aristocracy during the XIXth century.
 Tourism and cultural heritage
  The book of Valéry Patin.
 An essay on tourism
  An essay of Catherine Bertho-Lavenir on the importance of medias.
 Leisure times
  A fundamental work co-ordinated by Alain Corbin.
 TOWER net + Documents n°3
  The Fair for cultural, industrial and natural tourism in Nantes.
 TOWER net + Documents N°4
  An encounter in Paris on cultural tourism : study cases.
 TOWER net + Documents N°5
  Cultural and tourism's policies of four French cities.
 Cultural heritage, man and tourism
 Tourism in Europe
  Chance for economy, risk for society?
 Tourisme et Environnement


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