Industrial Cultural Tourism

A moment of the workshop in Terrassa
A moment of the workshop in Terrassa

How to strike the right balance between tourism development and heritage conservation and promote responsible and sustainable cultural tourism? How to attract more interest in less know and/or relax the pressure on overcrowded cultural tourism areas? These and other challenging questions were discussed in Industrial cultural tourism, the fourth workshop promoted under the framework of the CreativeCH project, that was hosted by Museu de la Ciència i de la Tècnica de Catalunya (mNACTEC) on Friday 10th May 2013 in Terrassa.

According to the organisers, the workshop was a way to encourage reflection on key aspects of cultural tourism, with an emphasis on industrial tourism. The agenda was designed to share information and to engage in facilitated discussions among attendees and expert speakers. Gathering local and international experts, the workshop aimed to address both Internationalization and Localization aspects of cultural tourism. Thus, the agenda was divided in two blocks. Each block consisted of a series of three short, expert presentations followed by a discussion, expertly moderated in order to facilitate dialogue among government officials, professors, professionals and other attendees.

The first block aimed to highlight the internationalisation aspects of cultural and industrial tourism. Prof. Wolfgang Ebert, Board Member of the European Route of Industrial Heritage (ERIH), gave the first presentation under the title “Industrial Heritage Tourism in Europe”. Prof. Ebert was followed by Prof. Henryk Handszuh, from the Coal mining museum of Zabrze (Poland), with “A cultural city coal park in the making in Zabrze (Poland) – should it attempt to apply for the World Heritage status to attract attention?”. Prof. Ion Imbrescu (University of West Timisoara, Romania) presented the paper “Reviving rural industrial heritage - towards an economic valorization of art-craft traditions”. To close the first block, Prof. Franco Niccolucci was responsible of moderating the discussion on “How to strike the right balance between tourism development and heritage conservation and promote responsible and sustainable cultural tourism”.

The second block deepened into the regional and local perspectives of cultural and industrial tourism and counted on the presence of regional and local experts representing both public and private sector. First, Mr. Jordi Garreta (Terrassa City Council) presented “XATIC, a net to promote Industrial Tourism in Catalonia”; Mrs. Magda Gassó (Government of Catalonia) encouraged the attendees with “Tourism and heritage: now is the moment” and Mr. Josep Maria Pey (El Generador, turistical and cultural projects) gave his point of view on the question “Is Industrial Tourism a business opportunity?”. Eusebi Casanelles (former mNACTEC Director) closed the second block moderating the discussion: “How to develop CH experiential values beyond stereotypic expectations (i.e. the typical “tourist gaze”)? How to attract more interest in less know and/or relax the pressure on overcrowded cultural tourism areas? “.

During the last weeks before the workshop, discussion on the internationalisations and localisation perspectives of cultural and industrial tourism took place online on the CHIEF, a web based platform for European young researchers, artists and practitioners. Participants were called to describe an idea to foster cultural tourism in a specific city or region of their choice. Carla Vieira (Teia D’Impulsos, Portugal) won the CHIEF Award submitting the project Reading Portimão. The winner was invited to the workshop to present her project, that creates thematic routes around points of interest that can be followed by all visitors and, as Carla Vieira describes, "it will focus not only on the material heritage but mostly on the memories, the stories, the legends of each place". 
The discussion was fruitful, constructive and even passionate at some point, according to Carme Prats, who closed the session and summed up the conclusions of the day:

1.    The workshop made clear the wide range of initiatives in the field of cultural and industrial tourism across Europe. Diversity provides uniqueness and richness but, at the same time, launching joint projects can become complex.

2.    There is a gap between the existing cultural resources and tourism products. In this sense, the challenge is transforming cultural resources in marketable tourism products. Following this conclusion, the workshop stressed the need to create synergies between key sectors involved: culture, tourism and business, as well as to stimulate public-private partnerships.

3.    When selecting resources, it is important to give priority to high-quality cultural resources. To transform them into tourist products, storytelling has proven itself to be an effective tool, together with the ability to arouse emotions.

4.    Participants discussed whether it is appropriate to link industrial heritage with modern industry, and did not reach consensus on whether modern industry is attractive to the public.

5.    The workshop also emphasized the change brought by the emergence of the tourist as a trip adivsor and, in this sense, the impact of internet in travel planning.

6.    According to the participants, it is essential to pay attention to local tourism, as the volume of such visitors is very significant.

7.    Experts discussed about the appropriateness of actions and products developed according to visitor’s demand, and not vice versa. In this sense, there was consensus on the need of recognizing the value of education as a tool to model tourism demand.

8.    Drivers, or what motivates tourists to travel, were a controversial issue, especially when it came to cultural tourism. More specifically, there was no conclusion whether the destination itself is the primary motivator when planning a trip.

9.    As in other sectors, the workshop stressed the need to segment the audience when designing cultural tourism products, as well as the importance of understanding in great detail the drivers of travelers. Following this issue, representatives of the Catalan Government reported the launch of a new statistical software that, when tourists access a cultural resource, permanently collects data on the motivations of visitors.

The workshop took place during the Fira Modernista (Nouveau Fair), a colorful and interesting attraction where visitors had the opportunity to make a trip back in time and relive Terrassa 100 years ago.

Workshop Fotos

Next Workshop

Business models for creative cooperation | October 2013


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