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Holidays And Heritage

  • September 29th, 2011
  • Posted by 7thmin

parthenon-old.jpgWorld Tourism Day, 27.9.11, may not have been expressly remarked-on around the parks, monuments and beaches, but it passed well in good September sunshine over most of Europe.

The European Union provided a twist on the theme, sponsoring a conference in a former, and celebrated Brussels brewery, on the chances of promoting industrial heritage as a future draw-card.


Called “Industrial heritage: differentiating the European tourism offer”, it was devoted to “preservation and promotion of the European industrial heritage”, and ways that might contribute to the diversification of the tourism offer in Europe,

There are good foundations to build on, thanks to the work of the expert curators of great museums, if that is what the tourism planners have in mind; but it must demand great imaginative interpretation to whet the appetite of visitors and displace the range of clichés of the standard Grand Tour.


The travel guide offered on the heavily visited website, representing many others, sets out the common fare dancing at the forefront of the mind of average visitors.

Who can, or could not predict the following from the prime choices identified in the guide, among 21 countries listed?

eiffel-flag-2.jpg“Paris, obviously, has its numberless attractions”, a finite few being then featured: the Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, (and a handful of others including the Musée d’Orsay and Picasso Museum), Notre Dame cathedral, the Latin Quarter and Marais, Batobus trips and the “glamorous Champs-Elysees”.

brandenburd-eu-flag.jpgIn Germany, Oktoberfest! gets first mention, the “recently reunified” capital Berlin, other cities mentioned being “easily-traversed” Munich, Frankfurt, the “Gothic splendour” of Cologne, and “old world charm of Lubeck”.

sifnos.jpgGreece is the “cradle of civilization”, where “museums filled with ancient Greek art and artifacts continue to remain a big draw”, along with the Mediterranean climate, food, beaches, “culture and nightlife”; not forgetting the Parthenon, pine-scented islands in the Saronic Gulf, the Dodecanese, Ionian Islands, the Cyclades, and Corfu.

becomes a string of those names; see Dublin, and friendly faces in pubs, then Galway Bay, Connemara, The Burren and the Cliffs of Moher, the “lovely town of Ennis on your way southwest to the Dingle Peninsula’, and Ring of Kerry.

florence-dome.jpgItaly equals “scenic wonders, great art and architecture, music, food and Italian wine – plus a unique talent for living la dolce vita”. Go to the Vatican, “Michelangelo’s Florence”, Milan and La Scala, the Amalfi Coast, Tuscany as a “gourmet’s heaven”, Venice, Turin and the Piedmont region (home of the Winter Olympic Games in 2006), the Italian Riviera, Genoa and Cinque Terra.

dovrefjell.jpgScandinavia equals “fjords, mountains, glaciers  (of which Europe’s largest, the Dovrefjell – home of Grieg’s mythical Mountain King)”, and the  northern lights and midnight sun of summer; also the “salmon-filled rivers, and flower-strewn meadows dotted by ancient wooden stave churches.”


Not shot through with industrial heritage, but all of those indeed will be beckoning ideas, most of the year, and certainly in a week like this.

On European Tourism Day, it was cloudy over Scandinavia but got up to 18-degreees there, and was mostly sunny elsewhere, 25-degrees in London, Madrid 28, Rome 30.


Adding-in the allure of industrial history, at first mention, may sound like a tussle for its promoters.

There is, yes, the thrill of innovation and sublime design, redolent though it may be, of the at-best, tough-love of the world’s first great industrial revolution.germinal1.jpg

child-labour.jpgThe planners in Brussels might countenance a trip to the scene of Germinal; but a revisiting of child labour in the pits!? Surely not. In certain  parts, industrial history invites us to forget.  (Here, the Duke of Wellington, in the United Kingdom, might be better still commemorated for Waterloo and his “thin red line”; as to his contribution later, to a humanitarian industrial law, this enemy of the Reform Bills is best kept in the back room with the Mad Aunt).

Yet, while skating over glaciers in Scandinavia, we might also pause to get out the phone, and pay tribute to Nokia, or honour the (still greatly disputed) claims of Norway to having invented that talismanic object of modern business life – the slide paper clip.


steam-powered_fire_engine.jpgAt least, though, there remains the tested potential of a steam train ride; industrial heritage to a tee.

Once again, it provides an interesting tale of disputes: the Ancients worked out that steam would equal power, without making useful applications; the “invention” of the steam engine by James Watt, these days is recognised as no more than a series of brilliant adaptations, over the period 1763-75, of the work of  Thomas Newcomen – who in turn had many predecessors on the long trial to locomotive power.

The historical themes of this year’s Tourism Day in Europe may come to bring in a fascinated crowd, though really it might have to be a new crowd; as, can we count on that many of the shoppers, surfers and sight-seers of our time to join in?



Chiff.Com  “Fast Find” Web Guide, Europe Travel Guide., (27.9.11).

European Union, Brussels, “European Tourism Day Brussels, 27 September 2011. ‘Industrial heritage : differentiating the European tourism offer’”., (27.9.11).


Steam fire engine, Germinal  – wikipedia; child labour –; travel sites –,,,,