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Packaging and promoting the city to tourists can destroy its soul.
Dennis Judd and Susan Fainstein

Our Programs: Heritage Tourism


YOUR CHOICE

A heritage tourism program that tells the authentic story through quality attractions,

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or an approach that reinforces myths and stereotypes (and ultimately cheats travelers).

Real Yes, Tacky No

  • Some communities make the mistake of romanticizing or glorifying their history, thinking a more sanitized version will attract (and not offend) tourists. Heritage tourists are educated; they know history wasn’t always pretty. They’ll sense when they’re not being told the real story – the story most of them seek – and they’ll feel cheated.

  • There’s a place for Old West gun fights, Frontiertown theme parks, and other "staged" versions of history, but don’t build your entire approach around these spectacles. Avoid commodifying or over-packaging history.

  • It’s important that the story is authentic (yes, a subjective term) and is told in a quality way (also subjective). In its workshops, CHG spends a great deal of time unpacking these fuzzy and often controversial terms.

  • Tell history using multiple perspectives, not just the "grand narratives" or popular myths. Your story is not complete without the working class, women, ethnic minorities, indigenous peoples, and others who are often marginalized in "official histories." The lesser-known stories help create a distinctive sense of place.

  • Don’t feel the only place your history can be exhibited is at the museum. Partnering with businesses, museums can showcase history throughout town, festivals celebrate local traditions, interpretive displays can be installed along sidewalks, the crafts sold in stores can reflect local customs, welcome centers orient and educate visitors, and, most importantly, the look and feel of a place’s built environment communicates a sense of history.

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