Heritage tourism has developed as one of the most important forms of tourism in recent years. The term heritage refers to places, objects or ideas that are considered to be of value or importance, and which are passed from one generation to the next. It has allowed many places which previously had no tourist industry to become more important tourist centres. Since the mid-1970s for example, Britain has acquired over 1000new museums and over 200,000 listed buildings, 5000 conservation areas and over 5000 ancient monuments. Recent trends suggest that the popularity of heritage tourism is increasing.
The reasons for the popularity of heritage tourism are complex.
1-The interest in the past is something inbuilt in people.
2-With the rise of globalisation there is an increasing interest in local places, local history and local cultures.
3-Deindustrialisation in Britain in the 1960s and 1970s has proved a wide legacy of redundant sites and buildings
4-The museums of industries, of transport and rural life for example, are popular because they offer memories which ordinary people can enjoy.
Bradford has a population of nearly 500,000 and is a product of industrial revolution of the nineteenth century. Until recently its economy was based on textiles and engineering, and the city has a reputation as a grim and grimy northern city, plagued by poor housing and suffering extreme levels of unemployment. By the 1980s decline was widespread and there were major challengers to restructure and redevelop the area. One of the proposals to redevelop the area included the development of tourism. Local planners recognised that there was a number of local attractions and advantages including-
1-An existing stock of hotel bed spaces associated with the city’s commercial history.
2-Victorian industrial heritage including the model town of Saltaire.
3-Proximity to the Yorkshire Dales national park.
4-Proximity to the village of Haworth, which is the centre of Bronte country.
5-Proximity to the worth valley steam railway.
6-The locational setting of the television series Emmerdale.
In addition, the city had the national museum of photography, film and television, the Alhambra theatre, an Edwardian theatre and salt’s mill. Bradford has actively promoted short-break tourism with strong thematic focus, such as ‘The Steps of the Brontes’, industrial heritage and tastes of Asia, reflecting the large Asian community in Bradford. By 1994 visitor levels had reached al most five million and tourism is thought to be worth about sixty-five million to the local economy. The growth of tourism in Bradford shows the power of heritage to promote new destinations. It also shows how cities have to get rid of old images and to reinvent themselves. Tourists that visit Howarth may also be attracted to other tourist areas in Bradford and vice versa.