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Port Arthur's heritage tourism management gains international exposure


The way in which the Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority successfully combines tourism and heritage management was highlighted recently at an international workshop in China.

Entitled Advancing Sustainable Tourism at Cultural and Natural Heritage Sites, the workshop was held at the Mogao Caves World Heritage Site in Gansu Province, China from 26 to 29 September 2009. The workshop brought together around 100 people from 21 countries to discuss a range of issues relating to planning for sustainable tourism; working with the tourism industry; managing the tourist experience on site; and maximising community benefits.

Maria Stacey, PAHSMA Director of Tourism Operations, and Andrew Ross, Marketing Manager, represented the Authority at the workshop, delivering a paper on tourism management at Port Arthur and contributing to the development of guidelines for use at other World Heritage sites.

Speaking after her return, Maria said the experience was both fascinating and inspiring.

“We tend to take it for granted, at Port Arthur, that we are a part of the tourism industry, and that tourism contributes to the conservation of our Sites and their heritage values.

“But that is not always the case internationally. In some places, tourism is viewed as an unmanageable danger to sites and local communities, while others may need to develop the knowledge and skills to work positively with the tourism industry.

“It was fascinating to hear about the range of heritage sites around the world and the issues that they face, and inspiring to hear about the solutions being found to some of those issues.”

The Port Arthur Historic Site has a long-standing relationship with the Dunhuang Academy, which manages the Mogao Caves, having hosted several delegations of the Academy’s staff at Port Arthur.

“The hospitality we provided on those visits was more than returned to us. We were treated as honoured guests and it was wonderful to have the opportunity to see their site and to find out about their truly impressive plans to manage their growing numbers of visitors,” said Maria.

The pair also visited Hong Kong, where they met with key travel agents. China and Hong Kong are a rapidly growing market for tourists to Port Arthur, and Tasmania in general.

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Maria and Andrew in front of the 'Nine-Tiered Pagoda' at Mogao.

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Rock-cut caves at Mogao, which is in the north-western Chinese province of Gansu.

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An example of some of Mogao's cave art

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Photography is not permitted inside the caves; these images are from replica caves in the Dunhuang Academy's exhibition centre

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An iconic Buddhist image from Mogao

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Stupas in the desert at Mogao, which is in the Gobi Desert