Railways in the UK and Japan: focus on heritage tourism
Hideto Fujii, professor at the Business School, Meiji University in Japan, describes the revitalization of rural and urban areas through heritage tourism as part of this particular emphasis on railways in the UK and Japan
What are tourists looking for through heritage tourism? Heritage is one of the magic words to change the behavior of tourists from one situation to another without its exact meaning being taken into account. Heritage is characterized as a flexible and context-dependent use in tourism, in particular, being somewhat equivalent to consumer goods due to the attraction of tourists by genuine or artificial raw materials.
There is said to be a close relationship between the relative economic decline and the advent of heritage tourism from 1970 on in the UK, and then Japan followed the same path a little later. Both countries have been confronted with neoliberalism since 1980. While neoliberalism presents itself in different threads and perspectives by being intertwined with an ideology, a mode of governance and a set of policies, the aim is to rely on the market self-regulated. This leads us to unstable conditions in society because neoliberalism facilitates the restructuring and resizing of social relations in accordance with the demands of global capitalism. Judging by the current neoliberalism world, the past tends to show us a relatively fixed and stable society. Therefore, it can be said that tourists from capitalist countries regard heritage as a symbol of stability from living in a state of constant flux.
Heritage tourism and comparative, historical and dialogical perspectives
Forming and constituting tourism products and services, heritage tourism must meet the expectations of tourists through tangible and intangible elements of the past. Heritage is made up of three main elements: built heritage such as remains and modern cities; scientific heritage such as plants, animals, rocks and natural habitats; and cultural heritage such as folk and fine arts, customs and languages. This means that heritage tourism is essentially linked to time and space to be carried out. In addition, it should be noted that heritage is not only material relics of the past, but also recent attractions, recreated and reproduced.
Our research addresses comparative historical perspectives on heritage tourism in terms of railways, with the aim of revitalizing rural and urban areas of the UK and Japan. Comparisons are made between similar institutions and the economic, social and cultural structures historically embedded in them in order to minimize variables.
To conduct an in-depth analysis, our research also adopts the dialogism founded by social philosopher and cultural theorist Mikail M. Bakhtin. Heritage tourism has many elements in common with the social relationships of people, where the use of dialogue, the model of relationships among oneself, functions effectively as an essential research tool. Although dialogism was first applied to literary studies by Bakhtin, it has recently spread in the social sciences as a heuristic method for imagining and analyzing the social world, emphasizing a holistic and dynamic way of thinking. Several concepts play a role of great importance in dialogism such as heteroglossia, polyphony, genre, chronotopes, carnival and translinguistics, etc. the matrices of time and space, visually reveal the primacy of time and space in human experiences, situating the stories of tourism products in temporal and spatial continuity (Table 1).
Heritage Railways in the UK
Office of Railways and Roads (ORR) in the UK, heritage railways are defined as “Lines of local interest”, museum railways or tourist railways which preserve, recreate or simulate the railways of the past; or demonstrate or operate historical or special types of motive power or rolling stock ‘. Regarding the institutionalization of the heritage railway, there is the Heritage Railways Association (HRA), of which over 300 companies in the UK are members. His Japanese counterpart joins the Japanese Railway Preservation Society (RPSJ). But compared to HRA, RPSJ is less developed in terms of contribution to heritage tourism. These organizations encourage heritage tourism to become popular through the heritage railway, despite their differences in characteristics.
Chronotopes positively impact the existence of heritage railways in the UK while allowing us to delve into heritage tourism research. Heritage tourism with a railway is made up not only of the rolling stock of heritage railways, but also of the heritage landscape such as the natural, rural, cultural and urban / built environment in terms of time and space matrices . This suggests that tourism authorities, including government offices and railway companies, are of great importance in combining the types of heritage railways with their surrounding landscape, which means they have to create images. heritage of the region by having a coherence between time and space for tourists.
Research results on heritage tourism and the railway
One could say that a typical example of chronotopes in terms of heritage railways is the Blackpool Heritage Trams in the UK (Figure 1). Blackpool Transport operates heritage trams, about half of which were manufactured before WWII, as Blackpool Heritage Tram Tours aims to attract tourists as well as normal operations with modern rolling stock. Blackpool, the world’s first working-class seaside resort, is famous for its architectural heritage dating back to the Victorian era, such as Blackpool Tower, the Three Piers, and more. However, most of them changed their appearance slightly after their completion in the latter part of the 20th century. This tells us that heritage tram types must be consistent with their built environment along the line in time and space, providing the sense of harmony in visualization with the landscape functioning as tourist attractions.
Our team is seeking like-minded research collaborators in the UK and EU countries to ensure that Heritage Railways operations contribute to the revitalization of their surroundings in terms of tourism based on chronotopes (please refer to contact details).
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