Tourism has always been a major driving force of economic growth, employment generation and cultural exchange. Many countries in the world have earned value from leveraging their cultural assets to promote tourism. Despite having incredible heritage assets appreciated all over the world, India is still to exploit the full potential of its heritage to generate employment and boost tourism. Success is best learnt from flourishing ventures, from best practices and practitioners. In the context of tourism and heritage, Spain is one nation which has grown by leaps and bounds to become one of the largest tourist destinations in the world. By following the Spanish example, India’s tourism sector can enhance the economic value of heritage assets and create a flourishing tourism industry.
Given the context, the Centre for Heritage Management, Ahmedabad University, India, University of Valladolid, Spain and Casa de la India, Spain designed a training workshop on Tourism and Heritage Management. The joint program was held from 23-28 September 2013 in Valladolid and Segovia in Spain, which provided its participants with an opportunity to learn from the best practices in heritage tourism in both the nations.
The workshop was aimed at the hospitality industry, travel and tourism operations, owner/manager of heritage properties, government departments of tourism, culture and tourism development corporations, nonprofit organizations in the field of heritage conservation and academic institutes in the field of history, archaeology and culture. A total of 11 participants drawn from the States of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab and Delhi attended the programme in Spain.
The programme kicked off with an official inauguration at the premises of Casa de la India, Spain. Post introduction of the programme by Mr Guillermo Rodriguez, Director, Casa de la India and talks by heritage tourism-related experts from the Castille and Leon region of Spain, the day also saw field trips to Foundacion Patrimonio Historico (Historic Heritage Foundation) in Valladolid.
The next day was devoted to field visits. It began with a tour to the Abadia Retuerta, an ancient pre-Monstratensian monastery, its winery and a demonstration of the culinary heritage of the region of Castile and Leon. Site visits to architectural delights like the Castle of Penafiel, which also houses a wine museum, a tour of bullfighting rings and the Foundation for Sacred Art Exhibitions of Castile and Leon at the Monastery of Santa Maria of Valbuena ended with a glimpse of Spanish regional food and culinary traditions at the International Culinary School in Valladolid.
A series of lectures on European restoration, heritage conservation and management in the Castile Leon region and cultural event management for economic and tourism growth was held at Patio Herrerriano Museum. The architect of the museum, Juan Carlos Arnuncio gave a talk on its restoration process from a ruined chapel to a modern museum. The talk was immediately followed by a guided tour of the building. A heritage walk of the city of Valladolid highlighting its art and architecture and also a tourist bus ride of the city was organized for the participants in the evening.
The diploma award ceremony was a grand affair. The Pro Vice-Chancellor of the University of Valladolid, Mr Luis Santos awarded a Certificate of participation to the 11 delegates from India. Thereafter, the team then set off to the UNESCO heritage city of Segovia. The City Council of Segovia received the participants as state guests in the presence of one of its city councillors. A guided tour of the City of Segovia through the magnificent aqueduct, the castle of Alcazar, the cathedral and the old city marked a pleasant evening for the participants before they departed from Segovia to Madrid on September 28 on their way to back to India.