Rural Tourism Development: Localism and Cultural Change (Tourism and Cultural Change)

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Although there was now a new focus by governments and tourism operators, research studies on cultural tourism in local regions, i. Cultural tourists were higher spenders and, therefore, a more lucrative market to pursue. As the fishing era rapidly went into decline in Atlantic Canada, tourism was simultaneously being flaunted for its potential economic viability. The fishery, and related industries, although now 44 Rural Tourism Development dramatically downsized and changed, was then still perceived by some to be a significant industry in the community.

Others took a more realistic viewpoint; the fishing industry had reached a stage of permanent decline. By , Lunenburg was no longer considered the vigorous fishing community it once was, but instead it had become a well-established tourism destination George, Tourism had rapidly grown over 10 years and had directly contributed to changes in the landscapes, seascapes and streetscapes of the community. The waterfront was no longer a bustling fishing or working area as is was in the s to late s.

However, tourism development, generally, was neither intentionally planned nor sanctioned in any serious manner initially, nor was it viewed to be of any significant importance to the economic life of the community.

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According to the study, before the UNESCO designation in , planning for tourism was not a priority item for development in Lunenburg. With no official planning organization or group for tourism development, the community, generally, took a low-key, spontaneous approach to tourist activity, typical of many rural communities in Nova Scotia. This newly restructured event would become a second catalyst for tourism development in Lunenburg because attendees now included a wider tourist market coming from more distant provincial and regional areas Atlantic Canada.

The duration or tourism season around this new Fisheries annual event became extended by three to five days, and visitors now required overnight accommodation, food services and other amenities. Visitors to the community continued to increase over the next few years George, This designation came with much prestige and status and placed Lunenburg on the global stage. It was at this point in time that tourism became the dominant force to drive future planning and development in the community.

Figure 3. Her research pointed to the Mayor of Lunenburg as the leading proponent in spearheading the designation that resulted in the award for the community. As previously discussed, prior to , tourism was not a primary objective for development planning in Lunenburg George, With this increasing awareness and interest, local organizations began to emerge, for instance, the Lunenburg Heritage Society formed in This small group of residents soon began to focus its attention on the many heritage buildings and unique architecture in Lunenburg.

His captivating story revealed that it was by happenstance, while on a family vacation and a stopover in Old Quebec City in , that he noticed and became intrigued by a monument with a green crystal in it.

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Upon closer inspection, he noticed that it was dated , and included an inscription noting Quebec City as a protected site due to its cultural significance. He took several photographs, which were brought back to Lunenburg for discussion about the incident with others in the Town Hall, and what this might mean for the community. Subsequently, from discussions with other Town Hall officials, the Mayor concluded that the Town Council should further investigate this matter. Initially, there was much enthusiasm about the designation as a potential opportunity for Lunenburg.

A collection of additional information and required documents ensued, and talks commenced between the Town authorities and officials at the National Historic Sites and Monuments Board, who showed sincere interest. Moreover, the process was highly competitive. The Lunenburg contingent assured government officials this was not a pressing issue to the community, however, it was eager to know its chances. The Town Deputy Manager also took on a leading role in preparing required documents and application for the designation process.

While the Parks Canada official played an instrumental but less visible role, other interested parties collaborated with Town officials. The town of Lunenburg will be working with the Federal and Provincial Governments to develop the benefits of World Heritage Site designation for our community. In many situations, it is the entrepreneurial segment of a community that takes the lead in driving tourism development Reid et al.

Other advocates of tourism in the community at the time were the local The Case of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia 49 Board of Trade, the Heritage Society and some key individuals who supported cultural tourism development in the community. Although there had been strong ongoing interconnections between these entities, it was the Mayor, and his Town Council who continue to form the power base , the power base which determines community and economic development policy in the community George, By and large, community residents appeared to become involved only when serious issues and concerns emerged and the Town Council was obliged to call special public meetings.

State of the fishing industry in Lunenburg since As of , the fishery in Lunenburg, arguably, has all but disappeared. The collapse of the fishery in Atlantic Canada in the s, discussed earlier, and its continued downsizing had a devastating impact on the community of Lunenburg. Following trends and advancing globalization, government restructuring of the industry resulted in huge allocations of fishing quotas given to large corporate fishing companies.

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This, in effect, gave control of the groundfish fishery to the larger commercial conglomerates and international fishing industry, and basically eliminated many of the smaller fleets in Atlantic Canada. In spite of this, some types of fishing activity by smaller vessels have remained, e. Lobster fishing has continued to be fairly lucrative in Lunenburg for those who were fortunate to inherit or secure lobster licenses from their fathers or from other family members.

In their efforts to survive, many small vessel operators have turned their vessels, formerly used for fishing, into tour boats for tourists. Others have continued to fish in a shorter and restricted fishing season, after which they convert their fishing vessels into tour boats for the tourism season.

Journal of Tourism Consumption and Practice – Volume 2, No. 1 –

On a map of Lunenburg see Figure 3. Much of the area encompasses the historic waterfront, which was previously the working zone for fishermen. KING T. FOX ST. This, however, has not and will not guarantee any long-term sustainability for the community. These include, not only external forces, such as the downturn in the fishery, globalization and technology, but also the unanticipated awarding of the UNESCO designation, the associated prestige and entry onto the world status, and ensuing growth of tourism.

It came at a moment in time when the community was being economically challenged and forced to consider change if it were to continue to thrive as a community. The cost of change can be high. The UNESCO designation, along with the series of events that took place in the last decade, led to a process of transforming this small rural community in Nova Scotia and its longstanding cultural heritage into a new community entity.

Some may liken this new community entity to a museum without walls or a stage on which to perform for paying tourists. The transformation process has basically removed the essence of local culture from those who formed and owned it, and placed it into the hands of a consuming traveling public and market forces. Arguably, it has thwarted longstanding traditional processes of transmission and accumulation of culture in the community.

Lunenburg, under its qualifying criteria for UNESCO designation, frames itself as a community having a natural and continuing living culture. Perhaps, through the commodification process, the continuity of accumulating and reproducing original culture discontinues; the living culture, in reality, is a brand new culture, one germinated and reborn out of the commodification process itself. First, there was the collapse of the fishery and, second, the provincial pull for developing cultural tourism; these forces placed pressures on the community to consider economic development diversification strategies, including tourism.

With the intervention of a third and catalytic factor, the UNESCO designation, the transformation process was initiated. During the process, local decision-makers quickly enacted new zoning policy and laws around controlling and preserving historic buildings and assets. Local residents did not seem to be involved in prescribing these changes.

Community involvement in any tourism planning in the community only became evident after the designation had been accepted. Over time though, the commodifying process progresses to where the original culturally embedded social construct use value becomes dominated by notions of exchange value. Eventually, as in the case of Lunenburg, the community reappears as a brand new transformed entity, one far removed from the longstanding and established traditional rural community it once was.

Long-standing mechanisms have since been replaced by new modes of accumulating, transmitting and reproducing culture e. Furthermore, one might adamantly argue that what has been commodified for tourism may not accurately reflect the authentic culture of Lunenburg. There are several interrelated factors to explain why this was occurring. First, through the UNESCO designation, the community repositioned itself as a scientific, educational and cultural zone.

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This has implicitly given Lunenburg an image associated with the upper-middle class. Not only has this image attracted a certain type of tourist, as supported by data collected in the research study, it has also attracted a particular type of real estate buyer to the community. The local real estate agencies have been instrumental in the gentrifying process. These agencies have taken advantage of the UNESCO designation, the designated historic homes and heritage buildings, and the prestige that this brings, to develop and build a selling Figure 3.

As a result of inflated prices and increasing sales to more affluent buyers, assessment values and subsequent taxes have risen substantially over the last decade. In fact, the value of real property has outstripped the wealth of the community. Many locals can no longer afford to live there. A different class of resident is replacing them.


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The beautiful old historic homes, one of the major attractions in the town, have reached a point where it was now becoming a negative in driving property values to a point that very few starters could afford to buy properties. In Old Town there are very few who are not affluent or retire who buy here. Traditional, once dominant working spaces have now been transformed into tourism zones. The restructured waterfront area, formerly the domain of working-class fishermen, exemplifies this change. Other industry spaces and facilities, including an ice-making plant, docking space for fishing vessels, repair and maintenance marine shops, have been converted into new tourist attractions, including a large museum and aquarium complex, tour bus areas charter buses , multiple restaurants and touristy shops.

Kiosks promoting local tours and other tourist activities now line the waterfront area during the tourist season. Much of the waterfront area is no longer accessible to ordinary local residents, only those who work that area for tourism.


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Infrastructure development also meant a new paved street and parking lot in the tourism zone to accommodate tourists and other visitors as well as numerous charter tour buses that frequent the community during the tourism season from The Case of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia 55 May to October. With lower incomes and fewer employment options available, a future life for local youth wishing to live and work in the local community is rather bleak and unpromising. Traditionally, youth were expected to follow in the footsteps of father, grandfather and forefathers, demanding a different set of skills, mainly related to seafaring industries.

Generally, there is a lack of career advancement or high-end employment opportunities in the tourism industry, an industry that is widely perceived to provide low-paying jobs for an unskilled labor force. Youth have been forced to leave the community to seek employment and affordable quality of life elsewhere. The community has also become attractive to potential outside investors and entrepreneurs who want to seize the opportunity to capitalize on the newfound fame of Lunenburg as a World Heritage Site and tourism potential.

Often, in desperation, tourism is viewed as the economic salvation of these communities Inskeep, Tourism, according to the literature and discourse, is gaining prominence as a prevailing and universal feature of capitalism and economic development in both rural and urban domains. Some may argue that tourism in this community can be described as latent but nonetheless, a spontaneous and organic development.

Adopting tourism would become a challenge in itself. Tourism is typically a service-based industry, which caters to the needs and demands of a consuming public, and operates under a different set of principles than what the original community had been accustomed to in the past. However, as alluded to earlier, it became obvious there was no community involvement in these activities and any serious planning discussion or decision-making was generally done in isolation of local citizen input or participation.

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