This is an interesting insight into the world of cultural tourism.
We are all people of the world. We have received an education in a school and have been taught. We have knowledge. We are literate. We can both read and write. We can communicate in one or more languages.
We have books. There are libraries. There is television, radio, internet and means for socialisation such as social media and public gatherings.
We have multiple sources of information.
We are aware of the history and heritage, not only of our own country but also of countries and places far away from us.
We have the means to travel by road, rail, air and sea.
We have the financial means to afford the journey.
We have the curiosity to know.
Suddenly, the world is a smaller place and we have begun to live in the global village.
Thomas Cook, an enterprising Englishman, had the vision that ordinary people and not just rich aristocrats, could and would one day want to know more about the world in which they lived.
So cultural tourism meets a cultural need in every one of us because we question, why have we not learnt about it if not to know more and to see it with our own eyes?
There are three distinct categories of culture which engages our interest.
They are firstly buildings and monuments. Secondly works of art and thirdly events, shows, exhibitions, festivals and theatre.
The many sources of information and knowledge have told us about the ancient pyramids and pharaoh temples of Egypt, bibilical lands of Israel, the empires of Rome, Turkey, Greece, Khmer, Mayans, Aztecs and Incas amongst others.
We know about colonialism and war.
We know that the age of renaissance (meaning rebirth) and the age of enlightenment which both happened in the last millenium have played pivotal roles in history.
They are all integral to the legacy of world culture.
The cultural tourist seeks out places of worship such as churches, cathredals, temples and mosques which were built by people in history who were expressing their own cultural ideals of the time.
The cultural tourist visits museums which have been established, much in a way a library of books has, as a depository of artIfacts and antiquitiies for the public at large to behold.
The Colliseum in Rome. The Acropolis Temple in Athens. The Pyramids in Egypt and Mexico. The Louvre Art Museum in Paris. Leaning Tower of Pisa. The Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Statue of Liberty in New York City. Taj Mahal in India. Trafalgar Square and Stonehenge in England.
Life is not all work and no play, so we want to be entertained. The foundation of our desire to be entertained is what we understand from our education.
Our social interactions develop interests, ranging from sport to singing, dancing and acting.
We enjoy the live performance of drama in a theatre, musical concerts as well as movies at the cinema.
Are comedy, horror, action and adventure escapism not a cultural experience too?
We attend outdoor concerts. We watch football matches. We go to beer festivals, book fairs, exhibitions and fairs.
Beyond that, we are pilgrims of our religious faith, christians looking to go to Jerusalem and muslims to Mecca.
The act of being a cultural tourist has been belittled in modern times with the ‘selfie’, a photographic recall of yourself aside a statue, monument or artifact of great cultural significance.
You are a culture vulture, preying on the history of the past for social enjoyment, middling between sightseeing and living your culture dream.
There you are, kissing the Blarney Stone in Ireland, touching a real life Egyptian Mummy, posing provocatively in front of the Mona Lisa or pretending to be a real life knight at a medieval castle.
It is a field trip out of context, This is no guilt trip. Every one of us has done it. Or wants to.
After all, cultural tourism is all about understanding and coming into contact with traditions, arts, crafts, customs and lifestyle not necessarily of our own. It provides enjoyment of past human achievement and gives us objects to admire, to be proud of and a way to connect with our ancestors.
Cultural tourism is just the vehicle between the past, the present and the future.
History gave us culture. Our debt of grattitude is to yesteryear.
It is now the responsibility of mankind to embrace it today and preserve it for tomorrow.