Online conversation: Staycations: a blessing or a challenge for cultural heritage?

The Tourism Society and the ICOMOS-UK Cultural Tourism Committee discuss the impact of the “staycation boom” on UK’s cultural heritage

About this event

As Coronavirus restrictions ease there has been speculation about a ‘staycation boom’, with significant visitation to outdoor spaces, from national parks to landscaped gardens and built heritage to play facilities, and everything in between.

This leads to some critical challenges, both around managing those visitors and their numbers as well as attracting new visitors post-reopening.

Our panel examines some key areas:

• Managing visitor numbers and physical distancing – and the challenges of changing restrictions

• Investment in facilities and infrastructure to manage additional numbers – will it pay? Will they still be needed in a year?

• Are staycations here to stay or will the public revert to outward-bound holidays? Can staycations be sustained?

• The impact on environmental and economic sustainability, of both outdoor and indoor heritage?

• Development of facilities, such as play areas, which might or might not respond or tell the stories to the heritage of the site(s) in which they sit. How is the concept justified, and what is the basis for such developments?

We are joined by speakers from English Heritage, Historic Houses, the National Trust, and the National Trust for Scotland.

About the speakers

Clea Warner is the National Trust for Scotland’s General Manager for the Highlands and Islands region. She oversees a varied portfolio of 26 sites that includes eleven island properties, including the UK’s only dual UNESCO World Heritage Site St Kilda. On the Scottish mainland, alongside six National Nature Reserves, this includes the iconic properties of Culloden Battlefield, Glencoe and Glenfinnan. Clea has more than two decades of transformational leadership, including managing multiple sites for English Heritage where she led the operational development of an extensive property portfolio, consisting of twenty-two historic properties which included castles, abbeys, a nuclear bunker and a pub!

Heather Redmond currently holds the senior strategic position of Head of On-site Visitor Experience at English Heritage, leading sites from Stonehenge to Hadrian’s Wall in all aspects of visitor experience. She has worked in the heritage sector for the past 12 years in visitor centred roles at Chatsworth House, The National Trust and The Landmark Trust. Heather is currently leading on projects relating to the On-site Visitor Experience Strategy at English Heritage which aims to bring history to life every day for everyone. She has also just completed a digital training package for over 2000 staff and volunteers covering 15 aspects of the visitor experience at our sites.

Pamela Smith is the National Trust’s Senior National Garden and Parklands Consultant leading on landscape history and horticulture ensuring our gardens and parklands offer the greatest possible public benefit through high standards of horticulture and presentation, engagement and access. Pamela is a horticulturalist with over 35 years’ experience working in public parks, botanic and historic gardens. She is the former Director of the University of Birmingham Botanic Garden, heritage and museums consultant and CABE Space scholar and has extensive experience of garden management and community and visitor engagement.

William Cartwright-Hignett is Vice President of European Historic Houses, an organization which looks after the interests of around 50,000 privately owned historic properties across the European Continent. He is a passionate advocate of long-term thinking and succession planning for historic properties and founded the EHH NextGen network and programme which brings together young and future owners of heritage to share experiences and best practice. A graduate of Cambridge University, and member of the Historic Houses Tax Committee, he was brought up at, and today manages, his family estate and historic house and garden at Iford Manor, Wiltshire. This is open to the local community and wider public in various ways and William’s passion for creating sustainable models for heritage runs through every aspect of his work both at home and abroad.

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ICOMOS-UK is the UK national committee of ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites), which has a special role as official adviser to UNESCO on cultural World Heritage Sites. At ICOMOS-UK we play a vital role in advising on aspects of World Heritage and sites for nomination across the UK. We are an independent charity with a UK-wide and international mission to promote and support best practice in the conservation, care and understanding of the historic environment.

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About The Tourism Society

The Tourism Society is where individuals from across all sectors of the Tourism Sector come together for discussion, debate, to share views and knowledge, and to network. The Society is the only professional membership organisation of its kind that represents all of Tourism – across all disciplines, geography and career stages. The diverse membership ranges from senior executives and academics, to self-employed entrepreneurs and tourism students.

More info available on The Tourism Society website.

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Picture: Old Ordinance Survey Maps, Unsplash