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Published on Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Take dinner in the Sistine chapel or view the replica

Or This...

Real tourism gets real money why bother with messy crowds when you can charge megabucks for the real thing?

It was reported this week that members of the Porsche Travel Club have been treated to the most unbelievable of cultural highlights. As part of a five-day tour of Rome they were invited to a concert in the "stylish" surrounds of the Vatican's Sistine Chapel. This was followed by a gala dinner, during which guests would be "surrounded by masterpieces" by Raphael and Michelangelo.

Recently another event hit the cultural headlines - in an effort to restrict the damage from mass tourism visitors to the Tomb of Tutankhamun in Luxor will now see a facsimile.

Put these two events together and you see a not unreasonable picture emerging.

First of all we simply have too many tourists who wish to visit cultural heritage sites all over the world. The damage and people-pollution they create costs more than this sort of toxic tourism delivers benefits from their visit.

The fact is that tourists also get a very raw deal. Often herded in massive sweaty crowds, they get a brief visit, a curt, authoritarian scripted guided tour, an opportunity to purchase low grade souvenirs and very little time at all to sit and stare. More likely a quick selfie-opp then back on the bus. Not much to show for their money and time.

A market-led economy like tourism follows the law of supply and demand - the answer is simple - increase prices dramatically and try to give a better experience.

Hence the growth of the up market Concierge operators such as Quintessentially and the Porsche Travel Club - these organizations usually  provide real experiences of destinations, not just quick, crowded, unsatisfactory visits. Given the tourism-created depredations to our world heritage sites - this is clearly the way to go.

But what about our need for democracy in tourism? After all the tourism numbers boom in the last 50 years has been fuelled by mass tourists. Making these wonderful offers available to all is how the industry has grown so big so quickly. Maybe too big too quickly!

This is where facsimile tourism comes in. high-quality purpose-built replicas of heritage sites (like the Tomb of Tutankhamun facsimile) could easily be created - the marketing logistic opportunities would be sensational. Plus they would be more effective in delivering value to the low-value tourist - interpretation and signage would be much more appropriate - and useful.

Two class tourism - it's on its way to a heritage site near you shortly.

Further info:

Porsche Travel Club itinerary: HERE

Thebes facsimile: HERE

Venice revolts against tourism: HERE

Valere Tjolle

Global top 100 destinations to be revealed HERE

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