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New Heritage Tourism Business Formats for Small Museums and other sites in Wales

International Journal of Applied Entrepreneurship (ISSN: 1742-5824) Volume 1 Issue 1

Simon Thomas and Dr. Brychan Thomas
Welsh Enterprise Institute, University of Glamorgan Business School

ABSTRACT

The paper considers the importance of new Heritage Tourism business formats and the virtual interface for the development of small museums and other sites in Wales. Historically, Wales has long been associated with the traditional provision of heritage in the form of museums, castles, abbeys and churches. However, the Heritage Tourism industry has experienced unexpected growth in a number of key sectors. De-industrialisation in Wales, both in the coal mining and steel producing industries, has in the later stages of the twentieth century shifted the focus from the traditional heavy industries, associated with the principality, to the commodification, and in many cases trivialisation, of these industries as heritage products. The so-called traditional heritage products are under continual pressure as the industry expands to become a diverse, multi faceted sector embracing all aspects of Welsh culture and history. As the tourism industry in Wales becomes ever more competitive the Heritage Tourism industry with its ‘tainted entrepreneurial character’ remains the sleeping giant of Welsh economic revival. In order to realise this potential the paper argues the case for the adoption of new heritage tourism business formats and the virtual interface for heritage tourism sites especially small museums in Wales.
The three main bodies involved with Heritage Tourism in Wales are CADW: Welsh Historic Monuments, the National Trust (NT) Wales and the Council for Museums in Wales (CMW). The paper initially reviews the policy structures of the three main bodies with regard to their promotion of new business formats and the role of virtual interfaces in their organisations. This is considered through the analysis of the three bodies’ Web sites with regard to the type of physical site, location and the business formats at the real sites. These include museum shops, restaurants, entrance till areas and visitor information centres. From the analysis the extent to which each organisation promotes new business formats and the way they market these formats through their Web sites is determined. This is considered in relation to their business policy approaches. An important strand which runs through the activities of the three main Heritage Tourism bodies in Wales involves small museums which are often located individually or on heritage sites. The importance of small museums varies in relation to the operations of the three main bodies from minimal inclusion for historic monuments through location at certain National Trust properties and sites to considerable significance for museum networks. In the latter, small museums have a significant role to play in the ‘Knowledge Economy’ on a local, regional and national level.
The research methodology has involved four main stages including: (i) an assessment of the existing policy structures of the three main Heritage Tourism bodies in Wales, (ii) a comparison of the bodies in terms of their business formats and the role of virtual interfaces, (iii) an analysis of the extent to which each organisation promotes new business formats through their Web sites, and (iv) a discussion with recommendations to develop a national policy for Heritage Tourism business formats and small museums in Wales.
The paper concludes with an overview of how the present policy structures have evolved and how these structures can be developed into a national framework in the context of the new business formats available in the 21st century.

Key words: Heritage Tourism, New Business Formats, ICT, Small Museums

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