How do we define heritage and what are we doing wrong?

Photo from Bali Tourism

Photo from Bali Tourism

Craft House Founder and Director, Yvette Jong, attended the UNWTO Regional Conference on Tourism Development in Cultural and Natural Heritage Sites in Cambodia and found these learning lessons from Dr. Bill Carter, Associate Professor in Heritage Resource Management at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia to be of great value.

Heritage is:

  • something we receive from the past;
  • something that affects us now;
  • something significant to us;
  • something we value;
  • something we can pass on;
  • it does not have to be old, large, rare, pretty or restored;
  • but it does need to be valued by someone - a community, a nation, or the world

The Challenge for Development

  • Contribute to protecting, reflecting, reinforcing and presenting heritage values
  • Delivering visitor satisfaction and underssatnding of the significance of the heritage
  • Ensuring that the heritage remains meningful to the ocmmunity that owns it
  • Ensuring development contributes to successful management of the resource

Making Heritage Sites Meaningful

  • Identify them: be comprehensive, define their significance
  • Define their story: what makes them significant
  • Use them: heritage sites locked up are vulnerable to disrespect and loss
  • Link them: sites without context lack meaning
  • Present them: interpret their significance; tell their story

Where Development Goes Wrong

  • Over emphasis on the symbols rather than the meaning of the heritage
  • Failure to present the context for the symbols from which significance derives
  • Failure to integrate the aspirations of local communities for 'their' heritage
  • Failure to present the whole heritage story by emphasizing the grand
  • Incompatability wiht the meaning and significance of the heritage

About Dr Bill Carter

Prior to his full-time research appointment with the Sustainability Research Centre (SRC) at USC, Associate Professor Bill Carter was discipline leader for USC’s Environmental Science program, which included the postgraduate Masters by Coursework program for Climate Change Adaptation.

Before this, he was with the University of Queensland where he was responsible for their environmental tourism programs at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

Before entering academia, Dr Carter worked as a consultant to the three levels of government and international NGOs in the areas of tourism and conservation management, and at a senior administration level in park management with the Queensland Government as the first interpretative officer for the National Parks and Wildlife Service and Director of Brisbane Forest Park, and the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works.

Dr Carter was responsible for the legislation drafting instructions for the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area and has been called as an expert witness for Commissions of Inquiry in NSW and Queensland.

He has led numerous research projects relating to heritage resource management (lead or co-chief Investigator on over A$5m of competitive research grants).

Dr Carter has published over 100 scholarly articles in this area; 65 since 2003 (10 monographs, 37 peer-reviewed journal articles, 5 conference proceedings, and 4 book chapters).

Dr Carter has been responsible for course development in Public Administration, Park Interpretation, Environmental Problem Solving, Recreation Resource Management, Ecotourism, Tourism Planning, Recreation, Tourism Product Development, Contemporary Case Studies and Sustainability courses at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

He has ‘graduated’ over 35 postgraduate students by research, from honours to PhD level. Bill has given keynote addresses or invited seminars in Australia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, China, Canada, Thailand, Cambodia and across the South Pacific.

Dr Carter is also co-editor of the 'Australasian Journal of Environmental Management'.