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Tourist perceptions of heritage exhibits: a comparative study from Israel

Butler, Richard and Airey, David and Poria, Yaniv (2006) Tourist perceptions of heritage exhibits: a comparative study from Israel. Journal of Heritage Tourism, 1 (1). pp. 51-72. ISSN 1743-873X

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It is common in tourism and leisure literature to define and approach tourism subgroups in terms of the presence of the tourists in certain spaces. This approach is challenged in the present paper. It is argued that the understanding of heritage tourism should be based on the link between the individual and the space, namely tourist perceptions of a site relative to their own heritage. Based on a study dealing with visitation patterns to places where historic artefacts are presented, it is suggested that tourist perception is key to the understanding of visitation patterns. It is not so much the artefacts the tourists see or observe, but the meaning they ascribe to them. The theoretical implications of this argument are discussed in terms of tourism in general and heritage tourism in particular, as well as the practical applications to cultural heritage management.