One of the best ways the general public can understand history is by visiting historical attractions. They are the lifeblood of tourism across the globe and integral to the cultural heritage of any given nation. But it is no easy thing to combine preservation, entertainment, and education as well as making enough money to sustain an attraction.
Here are three key features of managing and running a historical attraction.
Depending on the size and nature of a historical attraction the amount and style of interpretation are intrinsic to how the public interacts with it. On the one hand, too little can make an attraction seem lifeless and unimportant, and on the other, too much can cloud the beauty or mystery of a built monument. The style of interpretation can either enhance or detract from the nature of the attraction, and a balance must be struck.
Many museums or attractions make use of digital technology such as interactives, apps or handheld devices, which is great if it suits the space. Most will have some form of visual or textual interpretation, and many of the best will have tour guides who are on hand to offer insights and field questions.
When a company or body first invests in a historical attraction, they will budget for interpretation accordingly and try to understand the public who are likely to attend. A historical attraction that is only interesting to locals will need to invest less in translations, for instance. One that has historical significance that is not immediately apparent will need to invest in expert guides, for another example.
The relative scarcity of ancient monuments means that those that have survived had special importance in how they were constructed. However, when they become tourist destinations, their historic nature comes under considerable strain. This means that new resources must be put into place in order to maintain preservation.
Most heritage attractions will have a dedicated team on board to deal specifically with keeping the attraction well preserved. They will be the ones who organize preservation materials, bespoke paint restorers, air duct cleaning companies and any other environmental contractors to ensure the authenticity and integrity of the attraction.
In addition, a huge amount of work will be done in order to ensure that the historical nature of the attraction does not detract from the personal safety of its visitors. Heritage monuments were not all designed to take modern visitor needs into account. Maintenance teams look to find ways of balancing preservation and safety compliance, as well as extending accessibility to all.
Tourism marketing is a big deal, and a large amount of an attractions budget will go on ensuring people know where to find it. For city-based attractions, marketing budgets will combine forces with local tourist boards or groups of similar attractions. For those attractions (and there are many) that are out in the countryside or less accessible than more centrally based ones, they have to work extra hard to attract visitors.
Some will have to enlist the help of local transport companies, show excellent local knowledge such as nearby hotels, other attractions. These days it also pays to have a knowledgeable digital marketer on board who can extend the marketing reach further afield. Historical research can yield surprising results, and it is important to keep a regular blog of research finds – you never know what historical links this can churn up!