Has Heritage Turned History Into an Industry?

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To what extent has the concept of ‘heritage’ turned history into entertainment for profit? Heritage is a concept many would associate with pride and a sense of patriarchal belonging, a topic that would evoke positive emotions and reactions. You may assume it comes with no negative connotations. It regards the things an individual, or a group of individuals inherit for the past. This could range from natural landforms or the inheritance of physical characteristics, to the inheritance of cultural traditions and personal beliefs. Most commonly, the term is used to describe what a group of people, such as a specified countries current generation, have inherited from the previous generations. Their heritage is historically significant acts, decisions, views and events of those before them that have shaped the way they live their lives, the people they actually are and the people they perceive themselves to be. Often these are two very different things. The concept of heritage is central to the tourist industry, particularly in Britain. If you consider the reasons most members of the British public go on holiday abroad, clearly the most influential is the appeal of better weather. The much revered foreign sunshine, the British only see on holiday, enjoyed by so many others globally, which Britain crucially lacks for the vast majority of the year. Furthermore, the strength of the British currency the Pound Sterling, one of the strongest globally, makes it an expensive country to visit. Not to mention the inflated prices of pretty much everything in London, which obviously is the most popular tourist destination in Britain. This begs the question, why is it that Britain has any kind of a tourist industry at all? Yet alone ranking sixth in the World Tourism rankings (compiled by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation). I believe heritage plays a significant role in the answer to this question. The World Tourism Organization has also indicated the extent to which heritage plays a leading role in all travel around the world. “The WTO has recognised that heritage and culture have become a component in almost 40 percent of all international trips undertaken.” (Graham et al. 2000) It is no coincidence that the monarchy is at the forefront of both the British heritage and tourist industry. Looking at their current status, they are admired and even loved by many worldwide. It is the image presented to the world, through the media, that people look up to. The massive Palace they live in, the clothes they wear, having events such as a weddings televised to millions. They talk with an old-fashioned, upper-class English accent that is rarely seen in modern Britain and must seem alien to the rest of the World. I think that because they are so different to the vast majority of the British public, and others globally, they almost don’t seem like real people. Which adds to the public and tourist attraction and interest in them, just as it does with celebrities. The recent wedding of Prince William to Catherine Middleton is a prime example of how a historical event is used to provide entertainment and make profit. The British public’s opinion of the monarchy is quite varied. Some look up to them and feel a sense of pride by how they represent Britain. However many see them as being misrepresentative of modern Britain, or simply don’t care about a family of posh people swanning around Buckingham Palace, just because they were born into an extremely rich family. Yet when the royal wedding day came around, everyone felt obliged to turn their televisions on and watch it. The media talked about its historical significance to generate interest and build it up, but what significance does the marriage of two people have to the average person? Previously you could understand the significance of the marriage, to the whole of the country, of a member of the Royal family, as the Monarch’s had such power in previous years. Often their marriages were...
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