Heritage, Tourism and Economic Development in Seaside Towns
Yesterday, I gave this presentation at a fascinating event at Turner Contemporary in Margate on local lists and the heritage sector. I was invited to speak by the Margate Neighbourhood Plan Forum and Margate Civic Society, about the relationship between heritage, tourism and economic development. This was great opportunity for me to return to Margate, the regeneration of which I published this article about a few years ago.
In my presentation, I argued that, in the absence of strong government policies on tourism and culture, and as public sector funding and control of regeneration reduces, there is an opportunity for heritage groups (like the fantastic Sevenoaks Society, who presented their work on local lists at the event) to influence how their local heritage is presented to tourists and to influence the nature of local economic development.
My main point was that tourists want fantastic, memorable experiences. If heritage groups can present their local heritage to tourists as interesting stories and use exciting narratives, then heritage can be a great resource for regeneration. This might mean them becoming comfortable with the inauthentic heritagisation of their areas, but seaside towns like Whitby and Blackpool show that this can be highly effective in bringing in tourists and generating economic impacts.