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Solved by verified expert:Please answer 2 questions on page 231.1.What is the value of virtual reality in heritage site development and management?2.To what extent does technology play a key role in managing heritage?each question no more than 250 words.
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18
Virtual tourism
A niche in cultural heritage
David Arnold
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Introduction
This chapter will examine the potential areas in which
technology may be moving the goalposts for potential markets of cultural heritage in tourism and for
other forms of visitors. Some projects offering early
adoption of different technologies will be highlighted
and consideration will be given to the obstacles
currently faced by these early adopters.
If ‘niche’ is defined as a sub-area offering a
specialised provision which addresses a minority
interest then cultural heritage as a sector of tourism
can hardly be described as a ‘niche’. In a recent study
(Ecosystems Ltd, 2003) ‘historic interest’ was cited
as the fifth most common reason for the choice
of tourist destination (by 32% of those surveyed),
behind (1) ‘scenery’ (49%), (2) ‘climate’ (45%),
(3) ‘cost of travel’ (35%), and (4) ‘cost of accommodation’ (33%). The citation of scenery here may
also have a cultural heritage component.
Technology has an increasingly ubiquitous role –
virtually all aspects of human endeavour are increasingly reliant on technological underpinning – so the
idea that mainstream technology in a mainstream
area of tourism represents a ‘niche’ seems unlikely.
However, although the volume of cultural heritage
tourism will be shown to be extensive the use of
the most novel technologies is still in its infancy
Niche Tourism
(by definition) and in these areas the technology is only just beginning to show the
possibilities for new types of cultural heritage venue, new types of experiences in
traditional cultural heritage venues, and new revenue streams for heritage related
products and services.
In these areas the use of technology is very definitely only reaching a small
percentage of the potential market. In addition the new venues that have emerged,
where technology is used extensively as an essential component of the experience,
remain relatively rare. They are also not necessarily linked to traditional cultural
heritage centres, since the technology can be housed in appropriate accommodation
anywhere. In these respects such venues might be considered as meeting the
definition of ‘niche’ as well as the specific interest in virtual reality as part of the
tourism consumption process.
The cultural heritage tourism market
In Europe, the tourism industry is a very important economic sector and raises
significant revenues from visitors from other parts of the world.
According to 1998–2000 figures, 12% of Europe’s Gross Domestic Product
(GDP) is generated by tourism and tourism-related activities and over 20 million
jobs have been created in this sector, essentially within small and medium-sized
enterprises (SMEs). This sustained growth is predicted to continue well into the
future. According to forecasts by the World Tourism Organisation (WTO), the
number of tourists in Europe is expected to double in the next 25 years. By 2020,
there will be more than 700 million cross-border tourist arrivals a year. In
economic terms, this corresponds to an annual growth rate of 3% and an
increase of 100,000 new jobs a year, as experienced in the past few years
(Ecosystems Ltd, 2003).
Copyright © ${Date}. ${Publisher}. All rights reserved.
In 2002, the World Tourism Organisation (WTO, 2002) reported that
Worldwide receipts amounted to US$462 billion in 2001 . . . half of all receipts
are earned by Europe, the Americas have a share of 26%, East Asia and the
Pacific 18%, Africa 2.5%, Middle East 2.4% and South Asia 1.0%.
Within this, the market size for cultural heritage can be measured in many ways.
The numbers of visitor centres (i.e. monuments, sites and museums) in each major
European country is measured in thousands. For example, in the late 1990s the UK
had around 10,000 such venues, of which only half were charging an entrance fee
(Arnold, 2001). France is approaching 50,000 cultural heritage venues mainly
consisting of historic buildings. On the other hand, over 200 UNESCO World
Heritage Sites are to be listed in Europe (Ecosystems Ltd, 2003). Even if cultural
heritage venues do not directly charge entrance fees, they may be acting as pulling
factor and motivator for people to visit a certain destination, being responsible for
revenue generation in support of the local economies through the provision of other
tourism services.
Within the cultural heritage context, a further area of economic interest is
its relevance to the educational sector, where increasing importance is placed on
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Virtual tourism
cultural identity and on the celebration of both cultural diversity and common
roots. This socio-economic importance attached to cultural heritage often
translates into a steady stream of schools visits to sites of importance and
increasingly to a direct linkage to specific curriculum objectives. The economic
value of this contribution to the education agenda does not appear to have been
quantified, but will be the subject of some evaluation within a project named
Excellence in Processing Open Cultural Heritage (EPOCH).
Potential areas of impact for technology
Although cultural heritage is an undoubtedly important facet of a healthy tourist
industry without technological enhancement, there are many areas in which a clever
use of technology could enhance the experience of the visitors as well as offering
additional opportunities for a better utilisation of resources. The elements which
would enhance the visitors’ experience involve helping them in understanding
more about the remaining physical artefacts. Hence ruins, which may only be
visible at ground level but are the remains of substantial man-made environments,
may require visual interpretation of their significance before the lay-visitor is able
to appreciate the implications of the remaining physical evidence.
The additional utilisation is extremely important as, in many cases, the richness
of cultural heritage coexists with areas of modern economic decline and hence
regions in which additional economic activity is desperately needed. The Council
of Europe (2002) has expressed concern that this additional economic activity
could threaten this heritage, if it is not seen as part of the solution – the implication
being that other sources of wealth creation (i.e. manufacturing) would threaten the
surviving heritage either through competition or pollution.
Copyright © ${Date}. ${Publisher}. All rights reserved.
. . . it is a question of either remedying inadequate exploitation of heritage
resources by the market or counterbalancing excess industrialisation, which may
jeopardise heritage conservation itself (Council of Europe, 2002).
Primary markets for monuments, sites and museums involve the audiences to
whom they market on-site. Secondary markets involve alternative marketing
of their cultural assets. There are really two broad categories of primary market
and many secondary markets for cultural heritage. All are candidate markets for
enhancement using technology. The categories of primary market are:
.
.
Cultural Heritage Tourism, including day visitors and domestic tourists, but
also potential visitors from outside the region, who bring travel and
accommodation spends as additional injections to the local economies.
Education, providing for schools visits and other specifically educational
activities.
Both groups look at the appreciation of cultural diversity and its origins and
history are important aspects of the visitors’ experience. Engendering understanding of common roots between apparently diverse modern social groupings
is part of the political agenda for supporting developments. The technology of the
information age has the clear potential to enhance this understanding by drawing
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Niche Tourism
together disparate sources of information and common threads. The internet, as
a source of information, has obvious potential including on-line museum and
collection information.
Among the secondary markets, there are many opportunities to use the cultural
assets in other forms, from publications to cinema sets, e-tourism to merchandising.
Finally, securing an international reputation for European industry’s expertise
in these technologies will provide another avenue of exploitation. Here the
technological potential is also clear, ranging from e-commerce opportunities,
e-ticketing and tour planning technologies to marketing of digital assets in forms as
diverse as printed images to components of digital games and film special effects.
The experience with on-line publications would suggest that on-line publication of
digital assets is likely to enhance the demand for physical visits to the originals.
Education, citizenship and socio-economic priorities
In 2002 the Council of Europe, in its report Forward Planning: The Function of
Cultural Heritage in a Changing Europe, stated that:
European co-operation has done a great deal to heighten awareness, among
decision-makers and the general public, of the interest of heritage, conservation
methods, research and technical co-operation between countries. Consideration
must now also be given to the societal implications. In this respect, cultural
heritage is a key component of the multiple identities that shape Europe.
Juxtaposition of these identities raises the question of intercultural dialogue
and mutual understanding between communities.
The report concludes:
The forward-looking work initiated in 2000 should be pursued in a number of
directions:
. the ‘‘common heritage’’ concept, in connection with the Council of Europe’s
Copyright © ${Date}. ${Publisher}. All rights reserved.
political role and the meaning to be given to Article 1 of its Statute;
. the function of cultural heritage in an information society for the benefit of
all. . . .
. diversification of means of participation and of public access to culture and
heritage in the context of globalisation.
Research in these fields cannot be compartmentalised along traditional academic
or administrative dividing lines, but should be pursued at an interdisciplinary,
cross-sectoral level.
In relation to this, if the communication of cultural heritage can meet the
objective of using positive messages to convey the cultural commonalities of
European societies, then this will have both societal and economic benefits. By
addressing the youth niche of Europe as well as the wider population, the first
typically open to technological solutions and the second generally interested in
technology as a means, any initiatives will have longer-term implications in shaping
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Virtual tourism
society. This would also contribute to the creation of a more-informed public
demand for cultural heritage preservation, presentation and sustainable uses, and
will help create and reinforce the industry sector engaged in producing experiences
and digital reconstructions. This integrated effect on our perception of the value
and significance of our shared heritage would represent an important aspect of the
increasing use of technology and would enhance its positive economic and
educational impact on our society in the coming decades.
Scenarios for integrating technology
A range of opportunities is available for the integration of technology and tourism
consumption in relation to cultural heritage sites. Technology can be used to:
.
.
.
enhance the experience of traditional monuments, sites and museums,
create new venues for experiencing cultural heritage, and
use remote access to virtual venues and secondary marketing opportunities.
Copyright © ${Date}. ${Publisher}. All rights reserved.
Embryo technological developments in mainstream sites
The Jorvik visitor attraction in York, England, is a well-known early adopter of
simulation as an enhancement of limited physical remains. The remaining artefacts
showing the evidence for the Viking way of life in the area are displayed in a gallery
attached to the visitor experience. The context is demonstrated via simulation/
reconstructions of aspects including physical models of a ‘Viking’ street and
sensations (e.g. smells). The centre has been a phenomenal success, building on
York’s reputation as a short break destination. It also exhibits some of the
dichotomies that all simulations must experience – the balance between
reproducing an accurate depiction of the content (if this can indeed be known)
and the need to provide an acceptable experience (Anon, 2004). In this case it
is questionable whether a truly accurate simulation of all the smells of a Viking
settlement would be as popular with visitors as a suitably sanitised version.
The early technologies adopted in Jorvik would probably not be recognised by
the current visitors as a manifestation of ‘Technology’ which would now be thought
of as requiring networked computer systems, internet access and impressive
graphical special effects. While the world of IT has invented such delights as the
Head Mounted Display (including ‘smell-enabled’ versions) more recent examples
of technology used to enhance traditional cultural heritage experiences have tended
to concentrate on the enhancement of the information content, using this to bring a
new dimension to the venue.
The Ename Center for Public Archaeology and Heritage Presentation,
established in 1998, is a pioneering centre of advanced technology and expertise
in the field of heritage presentations for sites throughout Europe and the world.
The Ename Center is a Belgian non-profit organisation founded to encourage and
enable the dissemination of culture and history to the general public. The centre
hosts a team of scholars, interpretive experts, and VR specialists, and has a twofold
mission. On one hand it coordinates site-specific interpretive projects, international
conferences, scholarly exchange programmes, and special training courses for site
227
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Niche Tourism
managers and heritage interpreters from ‘partner sites’ throughout Europe and
other regions. On the other hand, it conducts research on the technology and
methodology of heritage presentation. It has built an extensive know-how on
interpretive techniques for monuments, sites and historical landscapes, and on the
use of Virtual Reality and multimedia to support these interpretive techniques. The
Ename Center was established on the basis of the expertise gained in the Ename 974
Project, which presents the heritage of Ename, incorporating an archaeological site,
a standing monument, an innovative museum and a historical landscape, part of
which is a nature reserve. In addition to developing a number of innovative heritage
presentation systems for the Ename 974 Project at the archaeological site and
museum in Belgium, the Ename Center is currently involved in the development of
interpretive technologies at sites in The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Israel
and the United States. One example of the technologies deployed in Ename is the
TimeScope system at the archaeological site, which uses an innovative augmented
reality method to show the way buildings would have appeared on site, viewing
them on kiosk arrangements in situ (Pletinckx et al., 2001).
The Archeoguide project (Vlahakis et al., 2001; Archeoguide, 2004) has sought
to take this approach one stage further by deploying mobile technologies to allow
roaming augmentation, in a variety of formats ranging from PDAs to headmounted augmented-reality viewing. These facilities can be used for several
purposes, from a personally tailored replacement of guidebooks to mobile
TimeScope similar to the Ename approach.
The technology uses a GPS system to record where the visitor is and wireless
technologies to handle the interactions. This experimental technology has been
deployed at the site of Olympia. Future developments of these prototypes will need
to target issues of the size and weight of the portable equipment, accuracy of
positioning, information content, reliability of networking connections, and
all-weather use. The potential remains clear as the technology has the potential
to bring to life sites with relatively little remaining physical evidence and we can
anticipate systems which will include virtual humans and perhaps re-enactments,
for example, allowing the visitor to an ancient battle site to view the deployment of
the forces and the developing strategic situation. At Olympia, the Archeoguide
team have so far confined this aspect to re-running some races.
Virtual tours can also be used to help preserve heritage and/or improve
opportunity by giving visitors access to a simulation, rather than placing the
original at risk of wear and tear. Examples of this potential are still at an
experimental stage but would include sites where the possible volume of tourists
would cause serious erosion or other damage to the surviving evidence. A typical
site might be one where there is a mixture of environmentally sensitive and more
robust remains – an archaeological site with delicate mural paintings or mosaics. By
limiting access to the physical site the managers of the site can control the areas
hosting the main visitor traffic whilst still allowing the visitors to visualise more
sensitive areas in context.
The balance of access is clearly part of the design of the visitor experience,
and will impact on the venue’s attractiveness to potential visitors. However,
visualisation can be used to enhance access to places that might otherwise need to
be completely closed to the public. Other circumstances in which this facility would
be useful include situations where the heritage centre may be unavailable due to
intensive use for other purposes.
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Virtual tourism
With the advent of ubiquitous networked centres and the potential use of smart
cards, another development involves coordinated access to dispersed collections.
This would enable the linking of a number of tourist attractions so that visitors to
one venue would be equipped with a smart card to record their progress through
the collection and store information about their visit on the card or on the network.
In the case of re-visiting the same venue or accessing another one in the connected
set, the visitors would be prompted with information about the location of the
exhibits of interest to them, based on demonstrated interests on previous visits.
Such individually tailored visits to thematically linked visitor centres can be
expected to grow and to address increasingly specialised niche markets with
interests in history, heritage, archaeology, nature and so on.
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Technological venues with cultural themes
‘Origins’ is the name of a visitor centre at the Norfolk and Norwich Forum. The
Forum is the result of a UK Millennium Lottery Fund proposal and is housed in a
new building in the centre of Norwich. The Origins centre presents visitors with
a variety of technologically assisted exhibits displaying aspects of the region’s
heritage. There are relatively few physical artefacts, but extensive guidance to direct
the visitor to regional venues where the artefacts and monuments can be seen.
‘Origins’ is also connected to the Norwich Tourist Information Centre.
The Foundation of the Hellenic World (FHW) is a privately funded not-forprofit cultural institution whose constitution was ratified in 1993 by the Greek
Parliament. The Foundation’s vision is to preserve and disseminate Hellenic history
and culture, to create an awareness of the broad scope of Hellenism and its
contribution to cultural evolution. The FHW staff team includes multidisciplinary
teams composed of computer scientists, graphic designers, 3-D graphic designers,
and virtual reality engineers, as well as archaeologists, historians and museologists.
Over th …
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