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What Is Archaeological Tourism?

People visiting the Forbidden City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in China.
Preserved artifacts, such as ancient Egyptian mummies, are often kept at museums near archaeological sites.
The Pyramids of Giza are a major part of Egypt's tourist industry.
The cave paintings at Lascaux, France are popular with tourists who are interested in prehistory.
The Newgrange tombs in Ireland are a popular spot for people interested in archaeology.
Article Details
  • Written By: Esther Ejim
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Images By: Alexxich, Tatty, Hartmut Lerch, Bayes Ahmed, Phtphoto
  • Last Modified Date: 06 December 2014
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Archaeological tourism refers to the process whereby people travel to historical and archeological places of interest. The reason why it is called archaeological tourism is due to the fact that it is often aimed at arranging visits to archeological sites where places and artifacts dating back to antiquity have been discovered, such as the pyramids in Egypt. Archeological tourism may be a means for the tourists to satisfy their curiosity regarding the ancient sites or it may be for the purpose of educating the tourists who may be students and scholars.

Most times, it is the government of the region where the antiquities are located to promote archaeological tourism as a means of educating people about their rich cultural heritage, or simply as a means to make some money from the tourists who visit. Tourism is such a big business that some economies are mainly dependent on it for their survival. For this reason, some governments might promote their culture and encourage archeological tourism as a means to generate more funds. Tourists spend money on airfare, transportation, food, accommodation, services and the purchase of artifacts. The government also gains from the taxes imposed on the expenditure by such tourists.

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An archaeological tourism destination could be anything of interest ranging from museums where artifacts are housed to the actual excavation sites themselves. Sometimes the archeological tourism involves other related features, such as recreations of historical sites or the simulation of more modern sites to look like some culturally relevant ones that may no longer exist. For instance, the simulation could include something like a ghost town that looks like a town from antiquity would look.

One of the drawbacks of archaeological tourism is the danger that may be posed to truly historical sites by hordes of tourists who descend on these places in large numbers. Even with strict restrictions, there is always the danger of some form of damage to such places, possibly affecting the pristineness of historical sites. For example, when tourists visit caves with ancient paintings on the walls, the constant traffic of human beings may lead to an erosion of the properly preserved status of the place. It is the government of the region where the archaeological tourism is taking place that must decide if the revenue it is deriving from the tourist trade is a good compromise for the reduction in the historical value of the sites.

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