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Tour Guides as Interpreters of Archaeological Sites: Heritage Tourism in Cusco, Peru.

McGrath, Gemma M. (2005) Tour Guides as Interpreters of Archaeological Sites: Heritage Tourism in Cusco, Peru. Doctoral thesis, University of Surrey (United Kingdom)..

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Abstract

Over the last decade, heritage tourism has established itself as a sector in its own right within the tourism industry. Demand for this sector continues to increase in the tourism-generating regions of the world, while on the supply-side destinations are increasingly including their built heritage into their tourism mix. However, unless this is undertaken in an integrated manner, there are serious implications for the quality of the visitor experience and for the long-term sustainability of such tourism. Unlike the era of the Grand Tour, the impact of current visitor numbers to heritage attractions can turn visits into unpleasant encounters for both tourists and locals, while potentially causing irreversible damage to sites. There has long been a history of human fascination with the past, and travel and tourism over the last fifty years have allowed increasing numbers of people to see many of the material remains of different cultures, not only in the form of souvenir replicas, but the original sites: 'live' and close-up. Archaeological sites, particularly those not belonging to pre-history, can offer the visitor contact with an element of 'otherness' and the possibility of escape to lesser known worlds. While some archaeological sites can offer the visitor aspects of this excitement just because of the scale, setting and architectural skill necessary of their construction, visitors are bound to get even more from their visit if intellectual as well as emotional access is available in the form of quality interpretation. In many developing regions, it is tour guides who are the sole interpreters of all tourism products, including archaeological sites. In order to be a gateway to the visited world, tour guides need to be able to deliver good quality interpretation to their audiences so that their fascination with the past does not turn to frustration. With the correct training, the guide has the potential to be an 'alchemist-interpreter', of an archaeological site where the challenge is to turn the base metal of information about the ancient past into the gold of understanding and satisfaction for a modern audience. With an integrated approach to heritage management, a tour guide also has the potential to bring together the key destination stakeholders. In this way, interpretation can help disseminate the all-important conservation message amongst visitors. The strategic use of interpretation then emerges as a mediator between tourism and archaeology. However, while the use of a tour guide for can have many benefits, poor guiding has several drawbacks. Perhaps more than other types of visitor attractions, archaeological sites require skilful interpretation due to their often-bare appearance and their temporal remoteness to modem audiences. Peru has some world-renowned archaeological sites and many are now important tourist attractions. Yet despite the exponential growth in arrivals, the development of visitor management and the supply of interpretation of the sites remains limited at best and at worst, non-existent. Although this study has Cusco, Peru as its case study area, there may be implications for other developing areas using its archaeology as a basis for its tourism industry. If correctly managed, Peru could use its heritage tourism as a vehicle for cultivating tourism for conservation. There is a tremendous opportunity for both human and cultural development to come from an integrated approach to heritage management. Peru's rural communities, its archaeological treasures, as well as the country's reputation as a outstanding tourism destination all stand to gain from this type of participation.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Divisions : Theses
Authors : McGrath, Gemma M.
Date : 2005
Additional Information : Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Surrey (United Kingdom), 2005.
Depositing User : EPrints Services
Date Deposited : 06 May 2020 13:07
Last Modified : 06 May 2020 13:11
URI: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/id/eprint/855926

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