Ethics and Heritage Tourism

  • Steve WatsonEmail author
Part of the Ethical Archaeologies: The Politics of Social Justice book series (ETHARCHAEOL, volume 4)


Tourism has been seen, characteristically, as a business sector that brings considerable benefits to those places that are developed as attractions and destinations, to the extent that it has successfully replaced declining industries in the developed world and provided opportunities for rapid economic development elsewhere. The disadvantages of tourism, however, have also become apparent over the last few decades, and much attention has been focused on the environmental problems associated with rapid urbanisation, transport infrastructures and the physical damage done to objects, places and landscapes as a result of unmanaged tourism development. Calls for more sustainable approaches have thus ensued, and now it is expected that strategies and plans to encourage tourism pay at least some attention to the need for sustainable principles to be applied and integrated with the development process. For heritage tourism, the issues are even more sharply defined. The objects and places concerned are often fragile and have deep and long-held meanings for host communities. There may be issues of identity and contestation, ownership and expropriation and commercial imperatives and authenticity, each of which has an important and unavoidable political dimension. For this reason, the chapter advances an approach to ethics that makes it central, rather than peripheral, to heritage tourism developments. Ethics should also be made an explicit part of the way heritage tourism is critically examined, if we accept that ethics are implicated in debates about what it is and how it operates. The question of what good heritage tourism does is thus foregrounded in the context of a debate about the politics and power relations that surround it. The value of engaging with ethics in this way is that it provides an analytical sidelight that not only reveals things about the way that heritage tourism works but proposes that its ethics should be politically grounded and its politics ethically informed.


Tourism Development Ethical Framework Host Community Ethical Position Ethical Critique 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Business SchoolYork St John UniversityYorkUK

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