Richmond Aqueduct

Richmond Aqueduct
Second Largest Aqueduct Built on the Enlarged Erie Canal (1856-1917)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Engaging With the Power of Place

For centuries, visitors have traveled to historical places to understand the impact of past generations. In the past decade, the cultural heritage tourism movement in the US has been gaining recognition and momentum with an impact on the economy and quality experiences for tourists. This week I had the pleasure of attending a symposium produced by the New York State Cultural Heritage Tourism Network and the Upstate Institute at Colgate University entitled "Bridges to the Future, Empowerment through Collaboration."

Cheryl Hargrove, keynote speaker, termed cultural heritage tourism "as a mosaic of places, traditions, art forms, celebrations and experiences that define this nation and its people reflecting the diversity and character of the U.S." She spoke about sustaining cultural heritage tourism through increased local benefit and value to its residents, long-term impact, opportunities for collaboration, and expanding partnerships that demand authentic experiences for visitors. Historic, cultural and natural attractions are experienced through the places and activities that authentically represent the stories and people of the past and present.

There were five guiding principles that were stressed throughout this program: 1) collaboration; 2) preserving and protecting resources; 3) making sites and programs come alive; 4) find the fit between community and tourism; and 5) focusing on authenticity and quality.

The program was a wonderful opportunity to network with other cultural heritage museums and sites from New York State, share experiences, identify future needs for networking, and learn about the resources available to help communities wanting to showcase their unique "Place." Spike Herzig lead the wrap up session that identified advocacy by participants as important future topic for discussion to ensure this part of the growing tourism industry is understood, recognized and supported.

The "new" cultural heritage traveler is preferring leisure travel that is educational, they want to engage with locals and will travel farther to get that experience.  Once again, I'm reminded that it's through the Power of Place and the people telling their unique and authentic stories, that is of most interest to visitors to our area.

Visit the New York Heritage Culture Tourism website at:

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