PhD ceremony: Mr. R.M. Roura, 16.15 uur, Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen
Title: The footprint of polar tourism: tourist behavior on cultural heritage sites in Antarctica and Svalbard
Promotor(s): prof. L. Hacquebord
In his thesis Ricardo Roura aims to describe and interpret the effects of tourism on historic sites in Antarctica and Svalbard, and to assess the implications for management. The potential for the transformation of historic sites has increased following the substantial expansion of polar tourism in recent decades. In this study tourism has been examined from the perspective of behavioural archaeology (Schiffer, 2010 and refs.). Research methods included site surveys, ethnographic observations, and repeat photography.
Tourism behaviour consists largely of a basic repertoire of actions that may result in interactions between tourists, their artefacts, and historic sites. Visual and acoustic interactions (instructions, narratives) may lead tourists towards (or away from) particular site features. Mechanical interactions such as trampling and handling may change the condition and integrity of historic site components and damage thearchaeological record on the ground surface and subsurface. The tourism “footprint” consists of an assemblage of behavioural traces, which develop on different temporal, spatial, and behavioural scales.
Tourism does not takes place at unchanging sites that are “frozen in time”, but rather at sites that are undergoing decay. Tourism contributes to this process. Tourism traces may modify traces of previous activities, without necessarily removing them entirely. Tourism has a minor effect on historic sites in relation to that of natural processes, but tends to focus on significant site features that may be vulnerable to visitation.
Tourism impacts may detract from the archaeological value of historic sites. These impacts should be managed despite the ongoing decay of historic sites using, inter alia, dedicated environmental impact assessment and monitoring; qualified guides with enhanced responsibility to enforce regulations; and precautionary action.
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