Experiencing local culture and history is probably one of the most authentic ways to explore a destination. But the onus is on the heritage tourist to tread carefully. Here’s what you can do as a heritage tourist to immerse in an enriching holiday, while minimising impact to the local community and the heritage of a place.
Respect local sensitivities
It’s important to uphold local customs and culture. More than just a sign of respect, this will also minimise any conflict that may arise with the locals. Badan Warisan Malaysia president Elizabeth Cardosa say whenever visiting a particular place, always remember that you are entering a space that has either cultural, historical or social significance for a group of people.
Engage with the locals
Heritage tourism is about more than just monuments and buildings, reminds Think City programme director Murali Ram. Take this opportunity to speak with the community and hear stories about their past and history. Sometimes, intangible heritage can only be learned through deeper conversations.
Do not litter or vandalise
The general rule of thumb when visiting heritage venues is to remember that you are entering a fragile destination. Penang Tourism Development, Heritage, Culture and Arts committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin implores tourists to take care of the surroundings. Littering would only destroy the general aesthetics of a venue and ruin the experience for other visitors.
Read up on the place
The thing with heritage tourism is that it usually transcends sights and sounds. Therefore, it is a good idea to acquaint yourself with the history and background of the place before visiting. Knowledge, according to DBKL senior deputy director (City Planning) Nik Mastura Diyana Nik Mohamad, would make the visit even more meaningful and enriching.