TAE logo
Alan Machin: Tourism As Education
Home page: blogs, introductions, links to main pages
Berlin: Editing a Townscape
... and reading a city that has had many rebuilders
Making Sense of The Travel Learning Experience- 1
1 Information Streams
Making Sense of the Travel Learning Experience - 2
Some basic theories
Back to Basics: Presentation given at the Cuba EduTourism Conference
The CETA Conference in Havana, Cuba, 8/9 November 2010
About the author
Comments - CV - photos
At the heart of the tourist experience
Learning through Landscapes
Exploring Oxfordshire (and a bit of Gloucestershire!)
The Environment As Data: Building New Theories For Tourism
How tourists relate to places
Sail Gives Way to Steam
A return visit discovers just how much has been achieved in this iconic restoration
Richard III and the Battle of Bosworth Reenactment
Visits to Leicester and the battlefield event, 2013
Along The Way
Recollections and Reflections of 60+ Years' Learning about the World and its Ways
On the Edge of the New World
Shaping New England
Exploring Holderness in East Yorkshire; October 2012
Past Historic
Graf Zepplin, Spain 1968, OS History, Much Wenlock Olympics, Chatham Dockyard, Hawes Tourism, Colonial Williamsburg,
A Summer of Travelling / Matthew Starr
Three months' backpacking in Africa, Asia and Australia
East Anglia
The Broads, Pensthorpe natural history, Radar Museum, Caister Lifeboat Service and more!
A Richer Earth
Discoveries in the landscape and attractions of Shropshire
Blog Index Page
Blog pages from 2009 listed
From Strip Map to Sat Nav
'Finding the way' aids to exploration
Showcasing the World
How the Tourist Microcosm took centre stage
Doing A Dissertation
Notes to help students preparing their proposals
The Japanese Tsunami Destruction at First Hand
Sarah and Tom Wadsworth saw for themselves
Showcases: Examples
The range and variety of tourism's focal points examined
Jigsaw: Frameworks of Knowledge
The tourist jigsaw puzzle of - knowledge
Books and other works useful in studying tourism as education
Tourism's Educational Origins: Part 2
The development of tourism as education, 1845 -
Tourism's Educational Origins: Part 1
Tourism's educational origins and management
Impressions of Tourism in Cuba
Thoughts on having seen some of the country myself
Captain James Cook: North Yorkshire Days
Tracing the early life of Britain's greatest maritime explorer
Hunting the Hound of the Baskervilles
Tracking down places that inspired the famous detective story and moulded Dartmoor's image
Exploring the Idea of Dark Tourism
What is it? Is it a useful idea?
Talking to Tourists
Visitor interpretation - guide books, visitor centres and other media
Shades of Light and Dark in the Garden of England
An exploration in East Sussex and Kent, June/July 2010
Hunting the Gladiator and the Gecko
A thirteen-year search for a wartime adventure
Steam Up For A Famous Film's Birthday Party
The Railway Children weekend on the Worth Valley line raises questions about heritage presentations
Anne-Marie Rhodes: Making a Difference in South East Asia
Leeds Met graduate of '07 describes her activities
Discoveries in Northumberland, April 2010
Alnwick Gardens; Winter's Gibbet; Holy Island, Cragside, Wallington Hall
Discoveries in the Midlands, March 2010
Bletchley Park National Codes and Cipher Centre; and the Rollright Stones
Alan Machin's Blog - April 2010
The development of tourism as education continued
Jigsaw Puzzle!
The Adventure of the Timely Tourist
Leaders Into The Field
People who inspired everyone to explore
Alan Machin's blogs - February and March 2010
Postings on the history tourism as education - redirection
Alan Machin's Blog - January 2010
Tourist photography and souvenirs
Earlier front-page blog postings - January 2010 onwards
Archived after being on the Home Page
News from higher education and - beyond
The Development of Educational Tourism
Key dates in the development of educational tourism
Alan Machin's Blog - December 2009
Christmas Quiz and other postings
Analysing Heritage Tourism
Ideas and perspectives on a hugely important sector
Alan Machin's Blog - November 2009
Visitors' Views of Stonehenge, West Sussex - and other Postings
Are Universities Losing Their Way?
Reflections having retired
Teaching Tourism At Leeds Met
Remembering the Best
Alan Machin's Blog - October 2009
Thoughts about university life and discovery by travel
Alan Machin's Blog - September 2009
Further postings about a trip last month to the USA, and about higher education
Alan Machin's Blog - August 2009
Postings about a trip this month to the USA
Alan Machin's Blog - July 2009
The Story So Far reaches the summer
Alan Machin's Blog - June 2009
The Story So Far looks back on seventeen years at Leeds Met
Alan Machin's Blog - May 2009
Another month of The Story So Far
Alan Machin's blog - April 2009
Yet more of the Story So Far
Alan Machin's blog - March 2009
More of The Story So Far
Alan Machin's Blog - February 2009
The Story So Far - pioneers, people and places
Alan Machin's Blog: January 2009
The Story So Far .... first postings of '09
Alan Machin's Blog: December 2008
The Story So Far .... latest postings
Alan Machin's Blog - November '08
The Story So Far.... continued
Alan Machin's Blog: October 2008
The Story So Far....
No Place Like Rome
The eternal city with the eternal tourists
Charleston, South Carolina
A photo essay about a fine historic city
Idealog - December 2007
Ideas, notes and comments
Idealog - November 2007
Ideas, notes and comments
The Educational Origins of Tourism
Discussion paper
Idealog - October 2007
Coton Military Cemetery; Education and Tourism; Chatham Maritime; Dickens World; Quiz Answers; Tourist Guides; Mediation In Tourism
Idealog - September 2007
Plane Paradox;Tour Guiding; Where in the World?; Do Tourism Students Know Where They Are?; Leeds Met's Wow!; Sea Harrier; Scarborough and Tourism As Education; Doing A Dissertation; Types of Tourist; A Media Lens; Cost of Travelling Alone; Risk of Bias?
Idealog - August 2007
A People Industry; Heritage Interpretation; Lud's Church; Tourists Go Home!; Stone Gappe YHA; Insight Guides; Eyewitness Guides; Bramhope Tunnel; Elizabethan Progress; Information Quality Matrix
Idealog - July 2007
Hidden Heroes, Health Tourism, Holme Fen Posts; Harrogate (again); Whitby Abbey; Dramatic Interpretation; Harrogate Interpretation, Attractions and Royal Hall
Idealog - June 2007
Christian Pilgrimage; Cincinnati Museums Centre; The Coming of the Guide Book; Talking to Tourists - Media, Stages of the Visit, The Service Journey; Tourism's Missing Link; The Final Call; SATuration level; Halifax's Edwardian Window on the World
Idealog - May 2007
Martin and Osa Johnson, Wensleydale Creamery, Malham Tarn, Thomas Cook, Northern Ireland's Tourism Rebuild, Jamestown Festival Park, Cite des Sciences
Idealog - April 2007
The Promenade Plantee, The Jardin des Plantes, Environmental Data, Victorian Beauty Spot Rediscovered, Jamestown, The Anglers' Country Park, Children's Museums, Fairburn Ings
Idealog - March 2007
A Sense of the Past- The 'Amsterdam', The Outdoor Classroom, Film-Induced Tourism, Making Tracks for the Coast and Country, Pictures, Context and Meaning, Classics-on-Sea, Hi Hi Everyone!, Dark Side of the Dream, Holodyne - The Action Cycle
Idealog - February 2007
Don't Go There!, Space Tourism, The Crystal Cathedral, New Books on Tourism, Dark Tourism - Undercliffe Cemetery, Showcase - The Louvre, A Class Act, First Impressions Count, Postal Pleasures, Canaletto in Venice, Serpent Mound, Capsule Culture etc
Idealog - January 2007
Capsule Culture,Seaside Style, Poble Espanyol, Mallorca, Edgar Dale, Children's Holiday Homes, Representations of Reality, Outdoor Education in Germany, Baedeker Guides, Geography Textbooks, Environmental Data Theory etc
Idealog - December 2006
Writers on Landscape, Story Books, The Deep, Flour Power and the Archers,Showcases: Grand Tour, Halifax Piece Hall, Books of Concern about Tourism, Tourist Traces, Tourist Typologies, The Growth of Educational Tourism, The Field Studies Council, etc
Idealog - November 2006
A blog of ideas, comments and notes
Travel To Understand: Belfast
Telling the stories of troubled times
World Quiz 2010
Geography with a tourism angle
The Monterey Bay Aquarium
An outstanding educational facility in California
Chicago: Tourism Re-Imaging
A closer view of an iconic city
Colonial Williamsburg
A Virginia history showcase
A Social Club Outing By Train, 1935
How to do Scotland in 30 hours flat
Going Dutch
Presenting the past in the Netherlands
Keukenhof: Business is Blooming
Using tourism to promote an industry
A View of Italy for the City
Trentham Gardens Revived
A Case Study in Heritage Management
A curious tale of misleading publicity
Old Rice Farm
The story of the house in the 'holler'
Perfection in Paradise: The Eden Project
New page being added: The Eden Project's design for success
Escaping From Slavery: Facing Our Past
The US National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
Prague Tourist Shows
Outstanding showcase attractions in the city
Retracing the Steps: Tourism as Education
ATLAS Conference paper given in Finland, 2000
Tourism and Historic Towns: The Cultural Key
A background paper for a Council of Europe Conference
The Social Helix
Visitor Interpretation as a Tool for Social Development, 1989
Malta Residential, 14-21 Feb 2006 - Page 1
Reports and Pictures
Malta Residential, 14-21 Feb 2006 - Page 2
Photos and reports of Friday 17 Feb onwards
Malta Residential, 14-21 February 2006 - Page 3
Reports and pictures from Sunday, 19 February onwards
Tourism Alumni Reunion, 8 March 2003
Leeds tourism students reunion 2003
World Geography Quiz 1
A test of your knowledge
The Adventure of the Timely Tourist
The answers
Tall Ships Race 2010 Converged on Hartlepool
A major event-based boost for tourism in the town
Plymouth: From the Tamar to the Sea
Starting point for explorations round the globe
Plimoth Plantation
A reconstruction of the Mayflower settlers' village of the 1620s on the north east coast of North America
World Geography Quiz 2010 - Answers
Geography with a tourism angle
World Geography Quiz - Answers
Christmas Quiz 2009 - Answers
A day in the city including the Botanic Garden
Tourist Showcases
Examples from around the world

Tourism and Historic Towns: The Cultural Key

Pier 39 San Francisco tourism elements

6th European Symposium of Historic Towns
Cambridge, UK: 20-22 September 1989

The key to successful tourism development in historic towns is suggested as cultural significance and the door that it opens can lead to successful community regeneration if the right steps are taken. The development of tourism can be the motivation for the key being turned.

Cultural processes are seen as either educative, producing knowledge, or entertaining, leading to enjoyment. The enjoyment of any place is a pre-requisite of the confidence to improve it. Knowledge and confidence create an ability to improve through an appropriate mixture of conservation and change. The social and economic situations must also be right, though that is not our prime concern here.

Tourism can, if developed sensitively, help the economy. Inappropriate forms of tourism will act against the capacity to improve. The measure of suitability for a historic town is dictated by the townscape with its various features and facilities, along with good promotion and management. Defining it as “historic” must mean that not only is its physical and social heritage cared for, but that it can communicate with people. It is suggested that three kinds of provision have to be made, and that these can be termed vectors, access points and venues. A strategy for a healthy community must provide for them.

Tourism and Historic Towns: the Cultural Key

History of a major dimension of human culture, and historic towns are arguably the most important expressions of the past that we possess. Reading the townscape of these places is not difficult, most people being familiar with the meaning of salient features like churches, commercial buildings and factories. Why and how they are significant in our culture is open to discussion by politicians and sociologists, and of course historians. But however they see them, people gain from buildings not only a view of who they are themselves but what they can do to improve their lot. Communities can build visions of the future on their sense of place.

It is the development of tourism that can motivate the key being turned. Historic towns are often not those to feel a need for radical change: Cambridge, Bath, York and Oxford are perhaps examples in England. Those that do perceive a need for major changes are, on the other hand, often those that are not attractive to visitors. If that Is because there are few environments worth promoting it is clear that creating the new environments must be done first. But there are also places full of history that have not been traditional tourist destinations, and these include many manufacturing towns. Calderdale, in the classic textile district of West Yorkshire, contains several such places, and has had considerable success in using tourism development as a way to unlock the door to community renewal. The mechanism by which it has been done is extremely interesting, and is based on making cultural life a priority.

Cultural processes are either educative, producing knowledge, or entertaining, leading to, enjoyment, or they are a mixture of the two. Tourism is a blend of both processes though entertainment is the prime motivation for visitors and visited alike. Yet that has been the case for only a century and a half, at least in Britain, with earlier tourism having had education as its main motive. Recently the growth of “special interest” holidays has swung the pendulum back, and the amount of educational day visiting adds to this picture. To support this growth there has been a huge increase in the provision of visitor centres, museums, guidebooks and information panels that can of course be used by residents as much as by tourists. The resulting enjoyment for at least a part of the visitor market has a parallel in the better self-awareness by residents. In Calderdale at least this has also meant a boost for self-esteem and morale.

The enjoyment of any place is a pre-requisite of having the confidence to improve it. There has to be a wish to be involved which is based on an empathy with people and their place. The residents will only stay on and take positive steps if they are - literally - at home with their environment. Given a knowledge of what to do and how, they will have the ability to improve their surroundings, through an appropriate mixture of conservation and change, being happy to retain some elements while creating new ones alongside.

The social and economic situations must also be right, though that is not the prime concern of this paper. Democratic, accessible organisations through which change can be discussed and initiated are needed. Tourism can, if it is developed sensitively, help the economy through its very broad base of earning-opportunities, but inappropriate forms of tourism will act against the capacity to improve as overcrowding of transport networks and town spaces occurs, litter and disfigurement of buildings happens, and cultural patterns are disrupted.

The measure of appropriateness for an historic town is dictated by the publicity, management and interpretative strategies, which all relate to the way that it is marketed. The first lesson must be that marketing has to be understood by conservationists and those trying to renew communities, because of its ability to reduce or control pressures as well as to increasing visitor numbers. Secondly, it can be suggested that good management and interpretation are served by a particular group of planned facilities, without which problems will arise. In this paper these are termed Vectors, Access Points and Venues.

Vectors are all of those features in townscapes that can be sensed - in other words, seen, heard, smelled, touched or tasted. The most complex are the visual vectors ranging from whole street scenes down to details like carvings and signs. Aural vectors include sounds of people, animals and machines. Scent vectors might be flowerbeds, industrial smells, food smells from shops or the scents of certain materials. Pavement surfaces, grass, sand and clay, or building materials like stone and brick, are tactile vectors. There are fewer taste vectors, but those such as sea spray can be important. Blind people need these rather less obvious vectors more than sighted people do.

Vectors act as landmarks spatially and chronologically. Like a lighthouse helping seafarers to navigate, an old building gives a sense of the changes of history. Details of architecture give a context of changed fashions and reflect a little of the prevailing culture. The Chapel of King’s College, Cambridge, speaks of church and state, education, architectural style, human emotion and effort. Its monuments and plaques stimulate thoughts about people and places long gone. These reminders are about differences as well as similarities. They establish a kind of historic distance and direction between themselves and their’ viewers which can be quantified, measuring how things have changed and in what direction. An analogy with mathematical usage gives the term “vector”. Of course meanings vary with the beholder, and every item of sensory information conveys something, however small.

The numerous features which Cambridge has give it identity and attractiveness, in sharp contrast to the relatively sparsely-featured modernist architecture that is now being abandoned in favour of post-modernism with its symbolic references. The lack of identity and language stems from a lack of the vectors which, it is suggested, are necessary to people.

Access Points are places where people can get access to information that is not instantly available as vectors. They include tourist information centres, shops, libraries and attractions like museums and period houses. Visitors to them have to take the initiative to obtain information, which they can then use for reference. Bookshops and newsagents supply local guide books but also books by regional authors and local newspapers. Most- shops have the potential to reflect the nearby character by the kind of goods they sell. Food shops will stock up on popular lines, clothing shops sell items priced for the town’s buyers, and all of them have staff willing to answer questions. Finally, while being quite different kinds of organisations, schools, theatres and religious buildings all give access to knowledge however objective or subjective they may be.

Venues are places where people can meet to discuss their community and how to improve it. Having gained knowledge and understanding they can decide how to use their new expertise. Streets, town squares, public houses, eating places, city halls, legislatures, workplaces, meeting rooms and clubs are all in this category.

Historic towns are well supplied with all these things and their communities are therefore full of cultural awareness: they may or may not- have dynamism for improvement. But towns full of modernist architecture with few social facilities are notoriously those with problems: they lack the kind of features described above. A strategy for a healthy community should therefore seek to supply the kind of architectural features, textures, sounds and smells which enhance a sense of place and a position in history. If urban designers need to understand how people relate to their surroundings through a range of features, it is suggested that a concept of vectors, access points and venues would be of help to them.

The key to successful tourism development in historic towns is in their cultural significance, and the door that it opens leads to community regeneration so long as the right steps are taken through marketing and townscape design.

Alan Machin
Public Relations and Marketing Officer
Calderdale Inheritance Project, Halifax, UK

[Photo: Pier 39, San Francisco - part of the city's range of tourist attractions]

Text-only version of this page  |  Edit this page  |  Manage website  |  Website design: 2-minute-website.com