The Importance of Heritage Tourism in Canada

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Heritage tourism is defined as a visit to a historical place and buildings by tourists. Tourists are always eager and fond of knowing the history associated with new destinations where they spend a lot of time. They spend more money compared to those tourists who go to new destinations for other motives other than visiting heritage sites. Heritage tourism creates an opportunity for tourists to have a unique experience outside the modern landscape that they are accustomed to while being able to imagine how the ancestral people lived in the past in their traditional settings. As such people who protect and preserve their heritage architecture are empowering their economy through investment in those sites (Wisconsin Historical Society).

The UN World Tourism Organization abbreviated as UNWTO reported the growth of global tourism in the last 5 years from 1999 at an average of 7% up to 2004. Culture and heritage tourism has been a major component accounting for virtually 40% of international destinations (Pinto et al, 2015). In 2009, there were 882 million tourists and in the following year, this number increased by 58 million visitors. This reveals that heritage tourism will be one of the most crucial industries in the world. It also shows that buildings help in releasing impulses that assist people to assess both regional identity and lifestyle. The culture offers opportunities for self-identification, spiritual, emotional, and intellectual paradigm of a country (Pinto et al, 2015).

Reconstruction of a project such as an old commercial site in a historic downtown can help to maintain the unique character and also promote economic development. It can be a pull factor that draws local and international tourists hence rejuvenating the town. Such a site if well preserved in a historic town that has an enhanced quality of life can attract tourists searching for a unique experience that they can rarely find elsewhere. Wisconsin, for instance, preserves and restores its heritage commercial districts by establishing tourism offices that protect and renovate old buildings, a move meant to increase the number of heritage tourists in the state (Wisconsin Historical Society).

Reconstructed buildings can form a city street that attracts visitors. Supermarkets are then located inside those buildings and tourists end up buying obsessively in the name of entertainment. For instance, the Disneyland located in California, an example of Main street USA, is a toy city that has toy houses whose interior has supermarkets stocked with goods and visitors buy impulsively while still receiving entertainment. The sites create a heritage memory and visitors feel nostalgic about these heritage sites. It is true that the visitors never experienced the original heritage sites when they existed but the reconstructed sites producing a longing for them. The sites can also offer a great insight into the world without necessarily going to other nations in search of the replicated or reconstructed sites (Barry, 2017). 

Construction of heritage sites in a single setting can promote tourism. An architectural heritage site should be capable of attracting a famous entertainment culture for its continuity hence creating memories or experiences that the tourists are searching for. Tourists are often looking for a replication of historical life. A contemporary population whose main objective is seeking an entertainment experience may not be interested in authenticity or how genuine the reconstructed site is compared to a population that seeks to study and learns the heritage sites. A collection that offers a wide variety of either regional or cultural building artifacts acts as an attraction that enables wide cultural experience to be realized in a single location. The sanctuaries folk museums found in Greece and Scandinavia respectively are examples of collections that provide a wide cultural experience in a single setting. The tourists are able to view various heritage buildings in a single location. As a result, these sites have become very famous for tourists interested in a one-stop adventure. Heritage sites found in a single area help to boost entertainment hence leading to a continuous flow of tourists leading to increased returns for such tourism investment projects (Barry, 2017). 

Introduction of laws that promote reconstruction and preservation of old buildings can help to enhance tourism in a heritage site. Reconstructed buildings play a vital role in knowledge accumulation in regards to historic sites. This is because they possess heritage value and provide a vivid picture of pioneer conservation practices in North America especially Canada. In 1934, Canada implemented Public Works Construction Act by emulating the New Deal which was introduced by President Roosevelt of the United States. The Act helped to provide financial assistance which was crucial in initiating reconstruction of buildings at the provincial and national level. This helped to promote tourism in the country more so in areas were economically depressed. Reconstruction projects such as Fort Ticonderoga and Colonial Williamsburg were reopened in 1907 and 1933 respectively. The success of these projects helped to encourage more projects to be reconstructed since they showed that enough data could be found in order to facilitate accurate construction of heritage sites. Another building that was reconstructed was the British Officer’s Quarters between 1934 and 1935 and its aged wooden barracks were modified into an attractive museum (Canada’s Historic Places).

Each country should develop strong bonding with its cultural and heritage legacy in order to preserve and sustain good relationships with other nations and the surrounding environment while avoiding the adverse effects of globalization. This will help promote a nation’s heritage tourism. In addition, the importance associated with heritage tourism such as revenue generation and job creation has motivated nations to introduce methodologies associated with urban planning as well preservation of historical sites. Also, there is the use of strategic approach in order to brand a place so as to allow it to be globally competitive. This can be done through such activities such as improving the accommodation capacity of an area for tourists who stay overnight hence boosting the revenue of a local area. Repairing and reconstruction of old buildings preserve the culture and create a sense of identity of the locals (Pinto et al, 2015).

Coming up with sustainable practices and policies will ensure the protection of the heritage sites, zones, and cities. In 2012, RIO +20 recognized the need to include tourism in its outcome document and also inclusion as part of G20 nations’ agenda due to its increased importance in the economic development of nations (Pinto et al, 2015). In the same year, there were over a billion tourists who traveled to different international destinations. The number of tourists is estimated to grow to 1.8 billion by 2030. The money generated from tourism should be used to reconstruct heritage cities and old buildings destroyed during war or natural events. These cities and buildings should be reconstructed using the traditional layouts because that is what attracts tourists. Traditional layouts ensure that the authentic nature of old buildings is maintained after reconstruction takes place hence preservation of diversity in the world is maintained while providing an opportunity for tourists to learn the cultures and heritage of other people (Pinto et al, 2015).

Protection of intrinsic value in an old building can help promote heritage tourism. The old buildings that were constructed before the world war were built with high-quality materials such as heart pine, a hardwood that is rare to find today (Rocchi, 2015). Similarly, old buildings such as Daylight Building located in Knoxville were found to have intrinsic value despite being seen as an eyesore. The architecture was found to have hidden gems, ceilings made of heart pine hardwood, a façade with copper lining, a huge clerestory, and a front with opalescent glass tinting. The old buildings attract tourists due to many reasons such as architecture’s sense of permanency; and the aesthetic, heritage, and cultural value that such buildings possess (Rocchi, 2015).

The heritage and culture play a huge role in attracting tourists. In a recent study, at least 50% of the people interviewed, there was a consensus that both culture and history strongly determine their holiday destination choice. In addition, statistics have also revealed that the heritage tourism is expanding very quickly more so in APEC and OECD areas. Heritage tourism is expected to grow and generate over $100 billion globally while the Asia Pacific nations (APEC) it is estimated that it will be able to yield $327 million (Childs, 2018). This type of tourism draws tourists are high yielding from nations such as United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and India, among other nations. These tourists tend to overstay in their destined areas. A study has shown that tourists visiting an area for the purposes of culture and heritage spend at least 38% of their day and 22% longer in general compared to other tourists who visit for other reasons other than heritage tourism (Childs, 2018).

Heritage and culture tourists are also attracted to historic architecture, museums, and other historic attractions. They describe such attractions memorable and educational compared to conventional holidays. Most of the tourists enjoy spending their nights in their area of destinations where they stay in motels; campgrounds; hotels; and bed and breakfasts where they spend a lot of money. Heritage tourism also benefits the economy of an area indirectly. These benefits can be divided into 3 categories: economic, social, and environmental benefits (Childs, 2018). The economic benefits of culture and heritage tourism include: injection of money to an economy hence generating more tax revenues, business expansion, and job creation, diversification of the economy, infrastructural expansion and maintenance for the local community. The social benefits are: building social capital; encourage positive behavior; community beautification, and enhancement of the image and pride of communities; promotion of research, work placement and educational opportunities for learners; and facilitate preservation of buildings with heritage value by the community and UNESCO. Finally, there are environmental benefits such as promoting a culture that preserves heritage sites and increasing awareness by encouraging people to be mindful on their effects that may cause harm to the heritage sites such as Taj Mahal and Sistine Chapel (Childs, 2018).

The preservation of architectural sites with heritage value ensures that the posterity will value the heritage buildings. Architecture can be described in three dimensions: cultural authenticity; temporal context, for instance, reconstructed urban environments; and personal experience. In an open-air museum, the buildings are disguised as objects inside an exterior boundary in the same way a constructed museum (Barry, 2017).

Urban centers and rural areas have many old buildings and can be highly valuable in promoting economic development through heritage tourism. These buildings have immense heritage and intrinsic value that attracts tourists from different nations. As such maintenance and preservation of historical sites not only promote historical significance but also act as a source of revenue generation while enhancing competitiveness and region livability.


Barry, K. (2017). Buildings as Artifacts: Heritage, Patriotism, and the Constructed Landscape. Architectural Histories. Retrieved May 6, 2018, from

Canada’s Historic Places. Reconstructed Sites and Heritage Value. Retrieved May 6, 2018, from

Childs C., (2018). How Culture and Heritage Tourism Boosts More Than A Visitor Economy. My Travel Research. Retrieved May 6, 2018, from

Rocchi J., (2015). Six Practical Reasons to Save Old Buildings. National Trust for Historic Preservation. Retrieved May 6, 2018, from

Pinto, L. M., Carvalho, P., & País, L. (2015). HERITAGE OR MODERN TOURISM. European Scientific Journal, ESJ, 11(9)

Wisconsin Historical Society. Your Historic Building and Heritage Tourism. Retrieved May 6, 2018, from

August 01, 2023


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