Can heritage resources highlight changes to the natural environment caused by climate change? Evidence from the Antarctic tourism experience

Abstract

Tourists are motivated to travel to Antarctica for not only the natural beauty of the continent and its wildlife but also because of the cultural and historical resources associated with the great explorers, such as Shackleton. This article examines the interplay and interrelationships between natural and cultural heritage resources and how this may shape the Antarctic experience and the benefits and outcomes associated with tourism participation. In particular we examined how tourist’s perspectives on climate change are influenced through this interplay between natural and cultural heritage resources. Data were drawn from participant observation, field notes, and open-ended questionnaires that were distributed to tourists that participated in four different Antarctic voyages in 2014. The study finds that cultural heritage resources, such as historic sites and locations, could be used as a narrative vehicle for discussing broader environmental issues such as climate change, as tourists appear willing to consider cultural and natural environments as existing in a symbiotic, rather than a dichotomous relationship. However, interpreters and guides may need to make the connections between cultural heritage resources and climate change more overt, as tourists did not necessarily view environmental issues through the prism of cultural heritage.

Publication
Journal of Heritage Tourism
Scott Ogletree
Scott Ogletree
Research Fellow