June 17, 2015

[Preservation Glossary] Today’s Word: Heritage Tourism

  • By: Jamesha Gibson
San Francisco's Chinatown neighborhood

photo by: David Yu, Flickr

San Francisco's Chinatown neighborhood.

Heritage Tourism, noun


The National Trust for Historic Preservation defines heritage tourism as traveling to experience the places, artifacts, and activities that authentically represent the stories and people of the past and present. It includes visitation to cultural, historic, and natural resources. Research and planning for Heritage Tourism would include identifying local or regional points of interest, developing or organizing those points of interest for visitation, and developing promotional and informational materials and guides for distribution to travelers and tourists through tourism bureaus, chambers of commerce, and by other marketing methods

The video below showcases the Zora Neale Hurston Festival, a successful endeavor by the historic town of Eatonville, Florida, to use their connection to author and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston to encourage heritage tourism and support their town.


This video shares the highlights of the 2013 Zora Neale Hurston festival in historic Eatonville, Florida, an example of heritage tourism in action.

Heritage Tourism has been known to help economically revitalize struggling historic communities. But what exactly does it entail? The Georgia Department of Natural Resources: Historic Preservation Division Consultants Directory says:

Word in Use: "Heritage tourism brings in outside dollars providing employment across [Nevada]. Millions of dollars annually are spent at parks, museums, hotels, restaurants, stores and casinos by visitors to our historic and scenic sites…These are example of Nevada’s special places where heritage resources deserve our patronage and protection." -- Greg Seymour, "Legislature Protects Nevada Heritage"

Though an important component of heritage tourism is bringing in revenue for your historic neighborhood, another significant aspect is that it raises awareness for and celebrates the distinct culture of your community. For more information about heritage tourism, check out the National Trust’s five guiding principles for successful and sustainable heritage tourism development as well as four steps for getting started.

Jamesha Gibson is an Editorial Intern at the National Trust. She is passionate about using historic preservation as an avenue for underrepresented communities to share their unique stories. Jamesha also enjoys learning about other cultures through reading, art, language, dancing, and especially cuisine.

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