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  • Writer's pictureBenny Kuriakose

Cultural Heritage Management and Tourism

The built environment refers to the totality of all that humans have changed or rearranged within the natural environment (Bartuska and Young, 1994). It refers to the man-made surroundings that provide the setting for human activity, from the largest-scale civic surroundings to the smallest personal belongings. It includes buildings, streets, urban spaces, roads, highways, waste disposal sites, and man-made water storage facilities.


Within the built environment, “we are here concerned with a quantitatively minor part of the built environment: that part which the contemporary generation resolves has ‘cultural values’, and accordingly merits special protection from the chances of erosion, in order that it can be better enjoyed by the current generation and passed on to the future” (Lichfield et al., 1993). “Cultural heritage management is the systematic care taken to maintain the cultural values of the cultural heritage assets for the enjoyment of present and future generations” (McKercher and Cros, 2002).


 Paliam Palace Museum conserved as a part of Muziris Heritage Project by Benny Kuriakose & Associates
Paliam Palace Museum conserved as a part of Muziris Heritage Project by Benny Kuriakose & Associates

According to McKercher and Cros (2002), cultural tourism was regarded as a specialized, niche activity, but now it has superseded ecotourism as the trendy tourism buzzword. “Cultural tourism is arguably the oldest of the ‘new’ tourism phenomena. People have been travelling for what we now call cultural tourism reasons since the days of the Romans; it is just that they were never recognized as being a discrete group of travelers before”. McKercher and Cros argued that the cultural tourism and cultural heritage sectors still operate in parallel, with little evidence being shown of true partnerships forming between them. They are of the opinion that “sustainability can occur only when the practice of trading off one set of values for another ceases and, instead, tourism and cultural heritage management interests work toward the achievement of common goals.


It is important to see that there is a proper management plan for the cultural heritage assets since the high tourism pressures derived from tourist traffic can cause many conflicts.


The historical Cheraman Juma Masjid is being conserved to its authentic character by Benny Kuriakose and Associates as a part of Muziris Heritage Project
The historical Cheraman Juma Masjid is being conserved to its authentic character by Benny Kuriakose & Associates as a part of Muziris Heritage Project

List of Contents



1. Impacts of Tourism


There can be both positive and negative impacts based on the various actions of the tourists and the changes that are taking place. Tourism can play a beneficial role in the conservation of cultural heritage. Visitor fees, concessions, and donations provide funds for conservation and presentation efforts. Tourism can also promote cultural values by supporting local handicrafts or by offering alternative economic activities.


Benny Kuriakose & Associates has conserved  the historic Paliam Market back to its old glory in order to revive the traditional arts and crafts that were practised in Chendamangalam, as a part of  Muziris Heritage Project
Benny Kuriakose & Associates has conserved the historic Paliam Market back to its old glory in order to revive the traditional arts and crafts that were practised in Chendamangalam, as a part of Muziris Heritage Project

There should be improved health and sanitary conditions with all the garbage being stopped from going into the public spaces and waste recycling happening. There should be greater educational opportunities – old and young alike will have an opportunity to learn about history, heritage, conservation, and the environment. Tourism should create employment and livelihood opportunities for the local community. In some cases, tourists’ interest in arts and crafts may foster a cultural renaissance. It should be ensured that these should not be guided by the products of commodification. People should be made more aware of built and natural environmental issues.


The thrust should be to minimize the negative impacts of tourism. At the same time, “tourism may not attract sufficient visitors quickly enough to generate the quantities of revenue needed to meet the economic expectations of the community.” This results from the competitive nature of tourism or the quality of resources in the communities” (Pederson, 2002).


The Muziris Visitor Center is designed to offer top-notch amenities and audio visual presentations so that visitors may enjoy and understand the unique experience of Kerala History.
The Muziris Visitor Center is designed to offer top-notch amenities and audio visual presentations so that visitors may enjoy and understand the unique experience of Kerala History.

On the downside, tourism spawns well-known problems. Literature on tourism is replete with stories portraying tourism as a destroyer of communities and culture (O’Grady, 1981; and D’Sa, 1999). Some tour operators exploit the local culture and the heritage assets while providing little in return for the community or the continuing care of the assets. In their statement, McKercher and Crus (2002) state that “increased visitation, overuse, inappropriate use, and the commodification of the same assets without regard to their cultural values posed a real threat to the integrity – and in extreme cases, to the very survival – of these assets”.


2. Tourism and Local Community


The community is likely to support tourism if the positive impacts outweigh the negative impacts or if they stand to benefit through employment for themselves or family members. But most of the tourism projects do not benefit the local community, and the tourism revenues often reach a different segment of the population who are outside the region. Big companies may deprive locals of anticipated economic benefits.


As a part of  Muziris Heritage Project , Benny Kuriakose & Associtaes has revitalised the Kottappuram market, one of Kerala's oldest markets and restored the lost social and cultural aspects of its past.
As a part of Muziris Heritage Project , Benny Kuriakose & Associtaes has revitalised the Kottappuram market, one of Kerala's oldest markets and restored the lost social and cultural aspects of its past.

Dana (1999) stated that once the social costs of tourism are considered, then it may not be considered beneficial to society. “One could argue that the island residents are wealthier in monetary terms, but I question whether they and their island remain as rich as they were before tourists arrived.”


Social disruption caused by increased visitor traffic, is another negative impact of tourism. There will be visitor traffic and it may disturb the people in and around the monuments and sites, but if systematically organized, visitor traffic can be easily and efficiently managed.


3. Tourism and Authenticity


As far as possible, the heritage should not be removed from its context or setting to the extent that its authenticity is affected. The integrity of the cultural space plays a major role in presenting an authentic experience, although it may not be traditional. Highly commoditized attractions by the tourism sector for easy consumption are not desirable (Kuriakose, 2009).


The Abdul Rahman Sahib museum conserved by Benny Kuriakose & Associates showcases the sacrifices made by and the achievements of Mohammed Abdul Rahman Sahib as a social reformer and a freedom fighter.
The Abdul Rahman Sahib museum conserved by Benny Kuriakose & Associates showcases the sacrifices made by and the achievements of Mohammed Abdul Rahman Sahib as a social reformer and a freedom fighter.

Tourism is a commercial activity, and tourists look for fun and recreation. But tourists want authenticity, not necessarily reality. Heritage assets need to be converted into cultural tourism products, but commodification of culture should be avoided. As commodification takes place, “people begin to perform exclusively for the tourists’ benefit, and events may lose their value as a cultural and spiritual manifestation.” As a defensive mechanism, some communities try to limit tourists’ intrusion by keeping separate cultural manifestations closed to tourists and offering “staged authenticity” performances to visitors, including appropriate interpretation and explanations (Pederson, 2002).


The Muziris Research Centre is designed to promote the aspirations of academics, researchers, and historians interested in exploring the region's rich cultural history and historical significance.
The Muziris Research Centre is designed to promote the aspirations of academics, researchers, and historians interested in exploring the region's rich cultural history and historical significance.

Not all cultural tourists are alike. A small number of tourists really seek a deep learning experience. Affluent tourists sensitive to local culture will stay in local accommodations, eat local food, and have basic facilities. This represents a tiny portion of the traffic, but is on the increase.


4. Development


The new development should be appropriate to the historic and architectural context. Modern designs and buildings are necessary for any society, but it should be ensured that cultural values are conserved. They should not impact the authenticity, character, and values of the built environment. Proper cultural heritage management is required to sustain the values.


The waterfront area with an open air theatre is a  people -  centric design in Kottapuram Market area with arrangements for people to sit and enjoy the view
The waterfront area with an open air theatre is a people - centric design in Kottapuram Market area with arrangements for people to sit and enjoy the view

It is feasible to introduce contemporary architecture into historic areas of the city. Modern techniques and materials can also be used as long as they are sympathetic to the surrounding historic fabric. Regarding the introduction of contemporary architecture, the symposium at the 3rd General Assembly of ICOMOS arrived at certain conclusions, which are mentioned below;


  1. Such contemporary architecture, making deliberate use of present-day techniques and materials, will fit itself into an ancient setting without affecting the structural and aesthetic qualities of the latter only in so far as due allowance is made for the appropriate use of mass, scale, rhythm, and appearance.

  2. The authenticity of historical monuments or groups of buildings must be taken as a basic criterion, and there must be avoidance of any imitations that would affect their artistic and historical value.

  3. The revitalization of monuments and groups of buildings by the finding of new uses for them is legitimate and recommendable, provided such uses affect either externally or internally, neither their structure nor their character as complete entities.


The before and after consevation images of Kottapuram Market
The before and after consevation images of Kottapuram Market

5. Interpretation


The conservation of historic buildings should provide an entirely new approach to the interpretation and presentation of monuments. Interpretation is the means by which people can understand the values and significance of the heritage site, both as a whole and as individual elements. The built heritage should be made comprehensible to as wide a range of people as possible, and should make the best use of the site for educational purposes, either for leisure, formal study, or as a tool for raising awareness.


Interior of the Paliam Nalukettu conserved by Benny Kuriakose as a lifestyle museum as a part of Muziris Heritage Project
Interior of the Paliam Nalukettu conserved by Benny Kuriakose as a lifestyle museum as a part of Muziris Heritage Project

There have also been significant technological developments in interpretation since the1990s, particularly in such areas as GPS and computer - generated imagery, touch screens, mobile phone technology, and video and audio wands, which could be applied to improve communication of the site’s values to the visitor.


The time spent by a visitor may vary depending upon each person’s interests. Interpretation panels at various levels should be designed depending upon the amount of time to be spent by the visitor. They may include local residents and repeat visitors.


6. Education


One of the major aims of any heritage project should be to provide an environment which educates the public at different levels. At the most basic level, it teaches about the conserved monuments and their various components. At the conceptual level, it deals with the macro issues of conservation, the built environment, heritage, and sustainability.


Activity centre is designed by Benny Kuriakose & Associates in the Cheraman Parambu under the Muziris Heritage Project with the aim of engaging youths in the process of excavations and archaeological study.
Activity centre is designed by Benny Kuriakose & Associates in the Cheraman Parambu under the Muziris Heritage Project with the aim of engaging youths in the process of excavations and archaeological study.

“Developing the educational use of a heritage site fulfils the obligation under the 1972 World Heritage Convention to transmit the site to future generations. Educational activity in its broadest sense, encompassing formal and informal education, is essential to creating awareness of the values of the s