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Title: Marketing cultural and heritage resources for optimal cultural tourism development : the case of Hong Kong
Authors: Ho, Sau-ying Pamela
Degree: Ph.D.
Issue Date: 2008
Abstract: Tourism is often criticised for undermining both the intangible and tangible values of cultural heritage. While cultural heritage site managers work hard to conserve these assets, tourism operators and marketers keep bringing in coach loads of tourists every day, placing immense pressure on such sites from tourists' misbehaviour. This study explores the underlying causes for unsustainable cultural tourism products and aims to verify if sustainable cultural tourism products can be achieved through the adoption of a marketing approach. The major challenge for successful cultural tourism products was found to be the transformation between a heritage asset with no intention to serve the tourist market and a heritage asset developed and marketed as a tourism product. While a heritage asset is managed primarily for its intrinsic value and from a supply-side approach, cultural tourist attractions are operated and marketed with tourists in mind, necessitating a more market-oriented approach. A bottom-up product approach is found to be an essential, viable tool in solving the sustainability issue in cultural tourism. Using marketing principles to guide the development of cultural tourism products from original heritage assets, the tourism potential of these assets can be assessed, core values of the assets can been found which will then be realised by transforming the assets into attractions catering to tourists' needs, and compatible tourist expectations can be managed effectively. Based upon the under-use, over-use and misuse of heritage assets, the researcher proposed a framework for sustainable development of cultural tourism products. The framework consists of three sequential stages, namely, assessing assets; transforming and developing assets; and managing experiences. Applicable to both new cultural tourism product development and, more importantly, as a reactive remedial management tool for existing cultural tourism products, this framework can be broadly applied to guide the site management and to identify underlying causes for unsustainable consequences. As a progressive framework, a positive outcome at each stage indicates that the heritage asset has met the criteria for that stage and can then be evaluated at the next stage. It also defines the criteria by which the subsequent stage will be evaluated. A negative outcome, on the other hand, identifies critical problems or deficiencies that preclude the sustainable use of the asset. These weaknesses must be rectified before other stages can be considered. They may also represent fatal flaws that preclude the asset from performing as a viable cultural tourism product. The researcher applied the framework to a total of 14 cultural heritage sites in Hong Kong selected from four different types of cultural attractions, viz., original unmodified assets, modified assets, purpose-built assets, and adaptive reused assets. An inductive qualitative research method was adopted in this study because of the nature of the research question, the complexity involved in considering different settings and contextual environments, and the need for a research design that is flexible enough to reveal unforeseen matters and to cope with changing environments and circumstances. The purposeful sampling enables different elements of the framework and different stages in the framework to be studied across various contexts. An indicator set has been further developed to ensure the study is undertaken with rigour and also to ensure the validity of the study. These indicators with respect to the three stages in the framework are developed based upon a review of literature, site observation and a pilot study. The framework not only allows the researcher to answer the research question, but also helps to serve as a framework for developing and managing sustainable cultural tourism products. Research results showed that market appeal of the sites is fundamental to the success of a cultural tourism product, i.e., cultural values, significance, size and scale, physical setting within the region and accessibility make them no different from other types of tourist attractions. Most of the cases examined failed in Stage One and Three, namely assessing assets and managing experiences, with Stage Two failures in transforming the asset often reflecting problems in Stage One and Three. In reality, most of the cultural tourism attractions have evolved spontaneously in response to increasing tourist needs rather than proactive planning before the attractions were built. Findings confirmed the researcher's assumptions that: 1. Good heritage management does not necessarily make good tourism management; 2. Conservation and presentation taking into account the needs of local residents does not necessarily mean that a good tourism product has been developed; and 3. Product or market extension from the local market into tourism does not necessarily mean automatic success. The research reveals the need to consider market demand, in particular the core cultural experience tourists are interested in pursuing. To be a successful cultural tourism product under sustainable practices, it is important to match the core experience that the asset can offer with the potential market. A systematic transformation of asset into attraction based upon the intangible core product warrants a higher degree of realisation of compatible experience offered to the tourists. Last, but not least, conveying a realistic message to the market of the experience that tourists may have when visiting the site and managing their behaviour on-site effectively help to eliminate the possible under-use, over-use and misuse of the assets and hence ensures sustainable use of the heritage assets. A major contribution of this research lies in answering the question of why cultural tourism products are used unsustainably and its ability to provide a platform and solution to achieve sustainable development when tourism and cultural heritage management find it hard to co-operate and understand the underlying causes of conflict between them. The study confirmed the possibility of satisfying various stakeholders, namely tourism, cultural heritage management, asset owners and local community, in developing heritage sites as sustainable cultural tourist attractions. In fact, it is suggested that the assumption behind sustainability tested in this study is similar to other forms of tourism development, especially ecotourism, which encounters the same challenges in achieving sustainable uses of natural resources. As such, the framework and indicator set can be modified and applied to other tourism contexts for verification. Although a qualitative approach is adopted in the research, the result can be generalised given the rigorous investigation undertaken and valuable insights from literature and industry throughout the five-year study.
Subjects: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations.
Heritage tourism -- China -- Hong Kong.
Heritage tourism -- Management.
Pages: xvi, 401 p. : ill. ; 30 cm.
Appears in Collections:Thesis

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