Questions of Interpretation: Historic Urban Settlements and Cultural Tourism


Introductory Remarks – W. Brown Morton, III, Symposium Chairman

The growth of mass tourism to cultural sites is a phenomenon of our time. But too often the authorities responsible for historic cities and towns lack the interpretive strategies that can protect these unique urban settlements from tourism’s negative impact. Guidebooks do not address the complex why’s and wherefore’s of measures designed to protect both the physical evidence of the past and the spirit of intangible traditions that give many of these communities their special significance. Effective interpretation can inform residents and visitors, empowering them to challenge decisions that affect their perception of historic sites, and through that process, it can foster an informed constituency for heritage preservation and protection. Likewise, all facets of the vast tourism industry must be encouraged to become full partners in preservation and to view sustainable conservation as the key to their own success and the survival of the cultural resources upon which they rely for their livelihood.

The 1998 World Heritage USA Symposium, Questions of Interpretation: Historic Urban Settlements and Cultural Tourism, addressed this vital issue confronting preservationists, urbanists, ethnologists, public officials, economic development specialists, as well as historians and archaeologists.

Symposium Cosponsors: American Institute of Architects/Historic Resources Committee, American Planning Association, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, The National Trust for Historic Preservation, Partners for Livable Communities, The Townscape Institute. The 1998 World Heritage USA International Symposium is supported by the General Services Administration, the National Park Service, the Fleming Family Trust and though a voluntary contribution from the National Academy of Sciences through a Grant from the U.S. Department of State.

World Heritage USA acknowledges the very special support given by Dr Richard Howland.