Pidhainy on Prideaux and Timothy and Chon, 'Cultural and Heritage Tourism in Asia and the Pacific'

B. Prideaux, Dallen J. Timothy, K. S. Chon, eds.
Ihor Pidhainy

B. Prideaux, Dallen J. Timothy, K. S. Chon, eds. Cultural and Heritage Tourism in Asia and the Pacific. Routledge, 2008. viii + 330 pp. $120.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-415-36673-1.

Reviewed by Ihor Pidhainy Published on H-Travel (March, 2011) Commissioned by Guillaume P. De Syon

Cultural and Heritage Tourism in Asia and the Pacific serves as a good introduction to many of the issues that tourism studies deal with today, from questions of authenticity to the management and marketing of heritage sites.  The editors all have expertise in the field: Bruce Prideaux is a professor in the School of Business at James Cook University, Dallen Timothy is a professor in the School of Community Resources and Development at Arizona State University, and Kaye Chon is a professor in the School of Hospitality and Tourism at Hong Kong Polytechnic University.  The strengths of this collection of articles are that it is comprehensive in its topics, that it is far-reaching in its explorations of Asian cultures, and that it incorporates the research of almost forty authors from various disciplines and a variety of countries.  The shortcomings are an uneveness in the quality of the papers and a shortage of illustrations and images, which would have enhanced the written text.  That being said, this book serves as an excellent introduction to the field, specifically with Asia Pacific as its focus.

The book collects together twenty-two papers, including the introduction and conclusion by Prideaux and Timothy.  Many of the papers were presented at a conference and previously published in two issues of Asia Pacific Journal of Tourism Research (2004); however a number of additional papers were added to this book.  The body of the work is subdivided into four major parts: authenticity--the search for the real; the impacts of tourism on culture and heritage; planning, managing, and enterprise; and marketing.

The introduction explains the four sections of the work and also discusses major trends in tourism studies.  The first part deals with the ever tricky question of authenticity.  As the editors note: "What is consistent in the debate on authenticity is its inconsistency" (p. 6).  The second section concerns how tourism impacts heritage and culture--the "hangover" question concerning to what extent the party was worth it.  The consistent answer here is that change is inherent with tourism and even the "purest" forms of heritage are altered within the framework of the marketplace.  The third section deals with the practical/business aspects of handling heritage tourism.  This section differs greatly from the first two sections, as the question becomes not whether to tour but how to tour most effectively.  The final section deals with how to sell one’s particular tourist site and nicely matches section 3.  Prideaux and Timothy then discuss the major themes of tourism studies, which to a great extent concern the who and how of dealing with heritage.  Nine categories are drawn up: authenticity, interpretation, heritage contestation, social exclusion, contested space, personal heritage, control, preservation, and management.  Each of these themes is returned to throughout the volume. 

The first set of essays grouped under the heading of authenticity consists of a general introduction to authenticity and six papers which serve as case studies.  Tazim Jamal and Steve Hill suggest definitions for what is authentic.  They build upon the work of Dean MacCannell and others to develop their framework, which consists of three aspects (time, space, and approach) and three dimensions of authenticity (objective/real, constructive/sociopolitical, personal/phenomenological).  They then describe how this works by plugging in various topics, such as specific tourist sites, tourist products, or general objects (e.g., country music) to produce what is considered authentic.  Finally, they examine two aboriginal tourist sites in Australia as case studies for the Asia Pacific region.  Anna Carr follows with an article that examines the ideal tourist and Māori heritage sites in regard to authenticity.  Carr notes the importance for the tourist industry of working with the Māori and other members of the community "to ensure the authenticity and integrity of the culture or cultures ... are not compromised" (p. 45).  Paul Leung Kin Hang's article on the traditional form of Chinese musical performance known as nanyin (southern sound) argues that heritage tourism can actually revivify and preserve cultural heritage that is on the verge of disappearing.  Eric Laws and Grace Pan follow with an essay on heritage tourism in Asia from the perspective of historical time.  Using Lionel Casson's Travel in the Ancient World (1994) as a guide, they argue that contemporary heritage sites in Asia would benefit tremendously from an examination of the tourism industry in the past.  Ros Derrett and Justin St. Vincent Welch examine the authentic in the context of isolated, iconic farm sheds along a highway in New South Wales.  This tourist "site," as the authors note, is distinct in its construction: it is an iconic image that Australians hold of the outback, and it is representative of the ordinary farming class.  R. W. (Bill) Carter examines the problems of tourism growth in a case study of the Boracay Islands in the Philippines.  In particular, he notes how negative environmental and social impacts were a result of "a lack of preparedness for rapid sporadic growth" (p. 101).  The varied approaches these papers take on the theme of authenticity is seen in the wide array and variety of players involved in heritage tourism and the difficulty involved in defining the term "authentic."

The second set of essays deals with the impact that tourists and tourism have on heritage.  The five essays can be divided into two types: those which deal with developed societies and those which deal with indigenous or primitive societies.  This bald characterization points out what is of interest and what kind of tourists are involved in what.  The two "developed" examples are taken from Japan and Hong Kong.  Malcolm J. M. Cooper, Masakatsu Ogata, and Jeremy S. Eades note that cultural heritage preservation in Japan tends to value form over the actual object and the incorporation of foreign culture in theme parks.  A second example is in Pamela S. Y. Ho and Bob McKercher's paper on the management of heritage resources in Hong Kong.  Three of the papers in this section deal with how locals manage their own culture.  Christine Vogt et al. discuss the views of Alaskans on Kodiak Island in regard to both the positive and negative effects of tourism.  Alison J. McIntosh, Frania Kanara Zygadlo, and Hirini Matunga examine Maori tourism through the prism of Mao cultural values and epistemology.  This paper in particular serves as a nice case study of how cultural outlooks change one’s perspective on heritage and tourism.  Ilika Chakravarty's paper deals with the complexities of heritage studies of Sindhudurg Fort, India.  The locals here both desire and fear heritage tourism, which is economically uplifting but also transforming in its effects.  Finally, R. W. Carter and R. J. S. Beeton's paper constructs a theory of tourist impact on heritage culture and a proposed model for curbing its negative impacts.  This paper's theoretical implications are important in consideration of the other papers.

The third set of essays concerns the management of heritage tourist sites.  Four of the papers deal with specific places, while one deals with how to make cultural sites accessible to people with disabilities.  The first three papers deal with sites in China.  Jing Li analyzes the complexity of the question of modernity in the Chinese context by examining the Dai, a minority people whose culture heritage is very different from that of the Han Chinese.  Their heritage site is managed by the state with great approval by the indigenous community, who desire modernity and access it through commodifying themselves as a unique unchanging product.  Sandra Leong and Hilary du Cros's paper is a critique of a proposal for the further development of an area that is home to another indigenous people, the Mosuo, whose matrilineal culture is of enticing interest to outsiders.  Dianne Dredge's paper discusses what she describes as the "global-local dialectic" in the development of a site in Hangzhou dedicated to Liangzhu culture (the name given to a Neolithic culture found here and elsewhere in China).  These three papers underscore the complexity of state management of heritage sites that are either indigenous or prehistoric.  The two papers that follow deal with the specifics of management for tourists.  Shane Pegg and Norma J. Stumbo discuss the need to make tourist sites accessible to physically challenged persons.  Douglas G. Pearce and Raewan Tan examine how distribution channels work, distinguishing tourist sites in New Zealand by type of tourist (group or individual).  In particular, they discuss Wellington, the capital, and Rotorua, a Maori resort.

The final section deals with how to more effectively market tourist sites.  Glenn F. Ross presents a rich paper on senior heritage tourism: he examines the reasons seniors travel and the ways they travel, and he presents a structural model to explain this.  Donald E. Hawkins examines what a World Heritage Site is, how such sites can be made into competitive clusters, and how this might be implemented in Indonesia.  Warwick Frost examines a non-European heritage site in Australia, Pearl Luggers, Broome.  He notes how the company offers a rich understanding of the complexities (and exploitations) of the earlier history of pearl gathering, and contrasts this with the general "conservative Eurocentric view of Australia's history and culture" seen at other sites (p. 313).

The last paper in this section and the conclusion to this book is also by Timothy and Prideaux.  They review four important underlying foundations examined in this work: the immensity of heritage resources, the impact and unacceptable change that tourism wrought, the notion of heritage branding, and the issue of of power and politics as a dynamic in heritage culture.  After exploring these in some detail, and focusing on how empowerment of locals (in whatever form this takes) comes about, the editors return to authenticity, suggesting that it is "virtually impossible to achieve in the modern world" (p. 319).

The book thus comes full circle.  It is my opinion that the editors are correct in claiming that they have presented a rich study of a wide range of important themes in tourism studies.  The appropriateness and importance of Asia Pacific in this field is also noted.  The weaknesses of this volume mentioned above should not distract those interested in making use of an area-focused work with numerous interesting case studies.  The book is recommended both for scholars in the field and for classroom use.

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Citation: Ihor Pidhainy. Review of Prideaux, B.; Timothy, Dallen J.; Chon, K. S., eds., Cultural and Heritage Tourism in Asia and the Pacific. H-Travel, H-Net Reviews. March, 2011. URL:

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