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November 14, 2012

COUNTER-TOURISM: An important statement

If you’ve ever been a tourist, then Counter-Tourism is an invitation to you to completely transform your experience of the heritage-tourism industry and its many sites. Counter-Tourism provides a set of powerful lenses, bending a whole world of conventional tourism into a spiral of new perspectives and experiences.

HOW? (The Strategy)

Together, ordinary people can change the world of heritage-tourism by innovative consuming, intervention and even ‘infiltration’ that will transform the way that the heritage industry and its sites are visited, looked at, experienced, conserved, managed and changed.

Counter-Tourism can only take off and come alive if you use the tactics (set out in the Pocketbook and the Handbook) and encourage others to do so, devising new ones along the way.

Because, like the moon, the heritage business has a dark side! Beneath those simple sounding stories in the Visitor Guide and behind the locked gates marked PRIVATE in heritage sites, there lies a multitude of inconvenient stories, hilarities, wonders, absurdities, extremes and entertaining outrages. When Counter-Tourism opens the doors, tourism becomes a funny, shocking, revelatory, subversive and adventurous life-changing experience rather than a deferential procession through the unrevealing homes and castles of Heritage plc. Counter-Tourism upsets the sanitising and bowdlerising efforts of the heritage industry: our counter-intention is to ensure that we do get unduly excited!

… that’s just for starters. If you’re willing to try, counter-tourism is also a personal and social journey of mini-pilgrimages, challenges and pleasures that points the way to a world where all our heritages and histories will be in play.

WHERE (is all this going)?
To a new way of understanding and making history – through pleasure and exploration – a whole new terrain where history and heritage and nation and identity are no longer carefully policed stories, but are landscapes to be explored, crime scenes to be examined, sensual playgrounds in which to learn new tricks.

O yes. No secret about that – the agenda is an approach to place and space that celebrates the multiplicities of meanings in every heritage venue and upsets all the heritage industry’s attempts at meaning-control and homogenisation – you can call it “mythogeography”, it’s what gives counter-tourism its special emphasis on the sites of heritage, on the places themselves.

In the end, counter-tourism is down to you. There are hundreds of tips, tactics and hints here – but they’re just there to support you as you use your own intuitions, follow your noses and write your own histories. Choose how far you want to go and take what you want from the Pocketbook, the Handbook and this site. Now, let’s begin the journey…


  1. By intensifying and sharpening your perceptions – seeing what’s behind the scenes, what’s just outside the site, what’s just offstage.
  2. By blowing apart the homogenous heritage story to uncover, the multiplicity of stories.
  3. By changing the kind of tourist you are.
  4. By making tiny or dramatic interventions, and then maybe moving on, if it’s your bag, to ‘openly infiltrating’ the industry itself.
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