What is Heritage?
Heritage is the total collection of our hereditary deeds, monuments, and civilization. Most vital is the range of existing activities, its significance, and the behaviours that we draw from them.

Heritage, is much more than conserving, digging, exhibiting, or re-establishing a grouping of old things. It is hard to define, in the sense those ideas and memories of songs, recipes, language, dances, and many other basics, which we are, and how we categorize ourselves are as vital, as historical buildings and archaeological sites.

Heritage is the topic of lively public indicator, debate, and discussion. What is worth saving? What should we forget? What record can we enjoy, regret, or learn from? Who owns “The Past” and who is free to speak for the past generations? Active public discussion of material and vague heritage of individuals, groups, communities, and nations and it is the valuable side of our multicultural world.

Heritage is a lively activity with wide-ranging possessions. It can be a part of visionary or the stage for political respect, a medium for intercultural discussion, a means of moral reflection, and the likely basis for local economic development. At the same time it is local, challenging, universal and mutual. Heritage is a vital part of the present we live in and of the future we decide to build.

Why Heritage?
Presently it has turned out to be clearer that village heritage conservation and study can play a constructive role in the social growth of the country, area, and its confined neighbourhood.

World Bank notes it, as the Framework of Action for Cultural Heritage and Development: ‘all development interventions intrinsically involve cultural and social dimensions that must be taken into account... the key question is no longer a conceptual one-whether culture matters – but a strategic and operational one: refining the means for making culture part of the purposive inducement of development, thus increasing the cultural sustainability of development and its economic effectiveness.’

Research, the exact experimental, humanistic study of the past will forever stay, as the basis of heritage activities and as a change of the whole image of past material remains. It is certainly coming and will demand international support and an extensive interdisciplinary approach.

Indeed, in future the issues of cultural heritage, social identity, and group memory will all become serious elements of larger social programs. As a result, there will be a growing need for professionals who are soundly educated both in disciplines and in the important current aspects of heritage such as economics, sociology, urban planning, and community affairs.

Cultural Heritage
Cultural heritage is the inheritance of physical artefacts and insubstantial qualities of a group or society that are inherited from past generations, retained in the present and passed on for the advantage of future generations.
  • Cultural heritage includes tangible culture; such as buildings, monuments, landscapes, books, works of art, and artefacts.
  • Intangible culture’s are; folklore, traditions, language, and knowledge, and natural heritage including culturally-significant landscapes, and biodiversity.
Cultural legacy is unique and outstanding and it places the task of preservation on the present generation. Smaller objects such as art works and other cultural masterpieces are collected in museums and art galleries. Grass root organizations, political groups, and the international body UNESCO, have been successful in gaining the vital support to preserve the heritage of many nations for the future.

These objects are vital to the study of human history as they offer a solid basis to do it. Their conservation reveals the necessary recognition of the past and the things that tells its story. ‘The Past is a Foreign Country’ by David Lowenthal views that conserved objects also validate memories.

The digital techniques can provide a scientific solution to get hold of the shape and the appearance of artefacts with an unequalled truth in human history. The reality of the object, as opposed to a replica, draws people and gives them a factual way of touching the past. However, this sadly poses a danger, as places and things are damaged by the hands of tourists, the light required to display them, and other is the risk of making an object known and available. The reality is that all artefacts are in a constant state of chemical change. What is considered to be preserved in reality is changing. It will never be as it was and it may change the value each generation places on the past and on the artefacts that link into the past. What is considered cultural heritage by one generation may be rejected by another but may be revived by another generation. 

Types of Heritages
  • Cultural Assets
  • Vague Culture
  • Natural Heritage
Cultural Assets
Cultural assets comprise physical, or ‘real’ cultural heritage, such as buildings and historical places, monuments, books, documents, works of art, machines, clothing, and similar artefacts, that are measured worthy of conservation for the future. It includes objects significant to archaeology, architecture, science or technology of a specific culture.

Aspects of disciplines of the conservation of tangible culture include;
  • Museology
  • Archival Science
  • Conservation-Restoration
  • Art Conservation
  • Film Preservation
  • Phonograph Record Preservation
  • Digital Preservation
Vague Culture
‘Vague Cultural Heritage’ consists of non-physical aspects of precise culture, often maintained by social customs during an exact period in history. The ways and means of manners in a society, and the often formal rules for operating in an exacting cultural climate and it include; social values and traditions, customs and practices, aesthetic and spiritual beliefs, artistic expression, language and other expects of human activity. The importance of physical artefacts can be interpreted against values of a particular group of people. Naturally, vague cultural heritage is more difficult to preserve than physical objects. Aspects of the safeguarding and conservation of vague cultural intangibles includes Folklore- Oral History-Language preservation.

Natural Heritage
‘Natural heritage’ is also an important part of a society’s heritage, encompassing the countryside and natural environment, including flora and fauna, scientifically known as biodiversity, and as well as geological elements; including mineralogical, geomorphologic (study of the physical features of the surface of the earth and their relation to its geological structures), paleontological (the study of life in the geological past), scientifically known as geo diversity. These heritage sites often serve as an important component in a country’s tourist industry attracting many foreign and local visitors. Heritage can also include cultural landscapes, mountains (natural features that may have cultural attributes).

Aspects of the preservation and conservation of natural heritage include;
  • Ethno or Ethnological Botany
  • Rare breeds conservation
  • Heirloom plants (plants in a personal property that had been in the family for several generations)
Heritage Tourism
Heritage or Cultural tourism is a branch of tourism, adjusted towards the cultural heritage of the setting where tourism is promoted. The National Trust for Historic Preservation in the USA defines heritage tourism as “travelling to experience the places and activities that authentically represent the stories and people of the past and present.”

Culture had been and is the main aim of travel. In the 20th century, several people have claimed, that culture ceased to be the goal of tourism; however, defined tourism as culture. Cultural attractions play a vital role in tourism at all levels, from the global tourist attractions of the world, its culture that strengthens the local identities. 

Cultural heritage and art, since long past contributed to appeal as tourist destinations. In recent years ‘culture’ is discovered as a vital marketing tool to attract travellers with special interests in heritage and art. According to many experts on tourism; cultural heritage tourism is the fastest growing sector of the tourism industry since there is a drift toward an increase of interest among tourists. This trend is evident in the rise in the volume of tourists who seek adventure, culture, history, archaeology, and interaction with local populace.
Cultural heritage tourism important for various reasons;
  • It has a positive economic and social impact, it establishes and reinforces identity.
  • It helps to preserve the cultural heritage, with culture as an instrument and it facilitates harmony and understanding among people.
  • It supports culture and helps to renew tourism.
Cultural heritage tourism has a number of objectives that must be met within the context of sustainable development such as;
  • The conservation of cultural resources, accurate analysis of resources,
  • Genuine visitor’s experience,
  • The stimulation of the earned revenues of cultural resources
Therefore we can see, that cultural heritage tourism is not only concerned with identification, management and protection of the heritage values but it must also be involved in understanding the impact of tourism on communities and regions, achieving economic and social benefits, providing financial resources for protection, as well as marketing and promotion.

Heritage tourism involves visiting historical sites. The overall purpose is to gain admiration of the past. It also refers to the marketing of a location to members of a diaspora who have distant family roots connecting there. Freely available travel also made heritage tourism possible for more people.

Another likely form of involvement is pilgrimages. Many Buddhists and Hindus from world over come to Sri Lanka to pay homage to the Sacred Tooth Relic at Dalada Maligawa in Kandy and latter to Ramayana Trails. The Buddhists in Sri Lanka visits sites connected to Buddhism in India. Thus it differs somewhat from tourism in the usual sense. However, these trips are religiously and culturally important to them.

Lastly heritage tourism can be attributed to historical events that have been dramatised to make the more entertaining. For example a historical tour may use a theme depending on the requirements of the tourist. Heritage tourism focuses on certain historical events, rather than presenting a balanced view of that historical period. It may not always present accurate historical facts, as opposed to economically developing the site and the surrounding area. As a result heritage tourism can be seen as a blend of education, entertainment, preservation and profit.

Heritage Tourism in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is gifted with splendid, millennium old memorials and cultural artefacts in its ancient cities. The three demarcating points of the Cultural Triangle are; Kandy   Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa.  The eight world heritage sites are Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Kandy, Dambulla, Sigiriya, the walled colonial city of Galle; and the nature’s heritage; the Sinharaja Rain Forest and the Peak Wilderness.

In this triangle, Sigiriya is known as the cultural tourism base. The most important archaeological and cultural site in Sigiriya is the other aspect that tourism could be developed. Its history is even challenged today; even the date of construction and the constructor is challenged by many leading historians and archaeologists for which the responsible authorities are silent.

With wide-ranging nature reserves and various cultural heritages, Sri Lanka has immense potential to create a new value added tourist products that cater to up market eco tourists. However, eco-tourism is not the total solution. The common drawbacks of eco-tourism are the misuse of wilderness by clearing forests. This uncontrolled eco-tourism handled by those who do not value nature has to be checked. Careful planning and managing are above all essential in promoting tourism development in cultural and archaeological sites and especially in the ecologically sensitive areas.

To encourage a balanced tourism industry, Sri Lanka is faced with many challenges. The following highlights some of the future tasks required to strengthen the tourism industry.
  • Prepare policies and principles for tourism development in and bordering to coastal areas, heritage sites, ecologically sensitive areas, and national parks,
  • Stipulate tourism objectives and alternative strategies; the existing mass tourism oriented marketing strategy should be adjusted to attract eco-tourists; who prefer specialised services and for them to gain life inspiring know how;
  • Improve the existing transportation system to disperse tourism to a greater geographical region;
  • To improve the existing level of accommodation, health and safety network, and especially the on-site facilities;
  • Educate foreign tourists to be friendly and value local customs;
  • Encourage community involvement in planning and managing tourism development, as small scale, single owner local operators are probably the best suited for eco-tourism provided they are adequately trained to understand the demand for eco-tourists.
  • To develop the lesser known attractions and disperse to greater geographical region.
Ultimately, the carrying capacity is the key element of balanced tourism. Unrestrained growth in tourism can lead to diminish social and economic returns and threaten the eco-systems and cultural assets upon which they depend. Seeking a delicate balance between culture and nature preservation and tourism development remains a major challenge in promoting ecotourism to sustain development in Sri Lanka. 
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