29 Dec 2019  |   05:08am IST

The art of presenting heritage

The times are a changing! Tourism is hitting high key notes of experiential travel, with cultural heritage increasingly being viewed as an economic asset for geographic areas. An interest in local history and heritage tourism is ushering in an era of new and eager tourists, seeking an escapade from the conventional vacations
The art of presenting heritage

Maria Victor

Travellers today are increasingly

interested in interacting with local communities, partaking in their festivals, trying local cuisine and learning about their culture and history. Tourism is hitting high key notes of experiential travel, with cultural heritage increasingly being viewed as an economic asset for geographic areas. Capitalisation of this new wave brings with itself vast array of opportunities for locals, environmentalists, influencers and eager experiential travel organisers.

‘Experience’ now stands as the third largest segment within the tourism industry! The desire to experience an event has become more powerful than owning something materialistic. The bets have shifted tables. Luxurious travel is being outshined by travel that leaves an indelible mark in the memory of enthusiastic seekers, the emphasis being on ‘seeking what appeals’ vis-à-vis ‘checking the to-do list’.

Museums, exhibits and exhibitions have their own charm with a staged, planned and structured display of heritage while Walking Tours bring an opportunity to enjoy heritage in naturally existent cultural spaces. This ‘real-time’ experience is a strong motivator for creating emotional ties with the place, crucial for understanding the meaning and values associated with the local heritage.

Endless opportunities come with being part of a Walking tour. These could be curated to include closed spaces or monument complex, museums and galleries or the work culture and lifestyle of a community. They could be in open spaces such as a bazaar, a river front, a lake, a village or a historical part of town.

Heritage Walks connect travellers to local communities, by creating trust and being emotionally engaging. The Fontainhas Heritage Walk in Goa curated by Make It Happen concludes at the home of a renowned local musician, Chico Fonseca, who serenades in Latin, Konkani and the soulful Fado (a Portuguese style of music). An experience like this is unique, special and beautiful in its entirety. It brings travellers to the very doorstep of local talent, one which goes beyond the very horizon of routine travel.

Heritage Walks when undertaken, also bring to the surface the challenges present towards conserving heritage in an era of fast globalisation and modernisation. It encourages travellers to question their lifestyle choices and thus encourage involvement with their surroundings and understand the threat of over consumeristic societies.

On a curated trial to Divar island in Goa, travellers experience authentic village lifestyles where traditional fishing methods are still practised, and bread is still baked in a traditional wood-fired oven. Such experiences connect travellers to the old-world charm of a splendid village lifestyle.

Curating Experiential Travel requires a careful balance of knowledge, responsibility and the delicate art of storytelling. The narrative must be carefully crafted to give a positive message while nurturing progressive outlook, by showcasing inspiring works, embracing evolving and inclusive culture that eliminates harmful ideologies like casteism, regionalism and gender biases. For instance, highlight alternate lifestyles, unique art forms showcasing the indigenous people of the land when interacting with tribal communities, in a way where one could learn from them, and not view them as socially backward communities.

Experiential travel industry is paving the path for youth and there is thriving talent in our streets. Success of experiential travel comes from the presenters who relate to the land, monuments and history through more than what books and pamphlets can teach. This knowledge comes from a deep sense of belonging, a passion for storytelling and cross-cultural understanding. This paves way for prospective work opportunities that are not mere means to an end, but in fact a collection of inspired young minds putting their native and contemporary knowledge and eager minds to the best that there is.


Idhar Udhar