Growing heritage tourism and social cohesion in South Africa
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Heritage and cultural tourism are notably one of the fastest emerging competitive niche tourism segments both locally and internationally. This paper explores the nature of heritage tourism as well as the concept of social cohesions before dealing with the questions of how heritage opportunities can be balanced with challenges that currently face South Africa. A line of inquiry is also followed where the future of heritage tourism in South Africa is interrogated and how it can be utilised to improve and support social cohesion and nation building. Due to the South Africa's apartheid history, cultural diversity of available heritage products is under-represented and consequently also under-performing despite being highly desirable by tourists (South Africa, 2012:16). An awareness of the ability of heritage and cultural tourism to contribute toward social cohesion has also been lacking despite research suggesting that South Africans have a desire to visit heritage sites but that the unavailability of information and inadequate communication between museum marketers, local authorities and the public, local tourists decreases the likelihood of them visiting these heritage sites. The development of multimedia presentations in different forms has done much to enhance the cultural heritage experience or tourist. However, this need to be linked to the skills development and training of heritage tourists guides to ensure that they are in sync with international developments such as the integration of information and communication technology during their interaction with tourists. The paper concludes that there is a need to better understand how heritage tourism interacts with other forms of tourism, such as shopping, sports, nature-based and cruise tourism in a context where heritage tourism has been found to be under-performing in the broader tourism market.