Ireland’s tourist board ought to promote its heritage because it's unique heritage is what really gives it its competitive advantage in a world where everywhere is looking increasingly the same, writer and presenter Loyd Grossman told the Failte Ireland at the Irish tourism conference this week.
According to the Irish Times, Grossman, who is chairman of the UK’s Heritage Alliance, said the world was becoming homogenized.
'That’s the downside of globalisation. Every place tends to look the same and it is those places that don’t look the same which have a unique competitive advantage,' he said.
'The one great thing we have, even though we are tucked away in this very soggy northwestern corner of Europe...is lots of stuff. No one can visit Ireland or the UK and say 'there's nothing here' because just look around you, everywhere. The natural environment, the historic environment, the intangible heritage that we have is so rich that it’s something that everyone in the world is going to demand.'
Grossman added that 'heritage is not something that should be seen as a luxury. It is absolutely vital to every aspect of our society and it’s impossible to have a country that’s in a state of wellbeing unless the heritage is healthy.'
Tourism must begin at home he said. 'Any place that’s worth visiting has got to be, in the first place, somewhere that’s worth living in.'
Agreeing that the things that are most distinctive about Ireland are also its greatest asset, Greg Richards a professor of leisure studies at the University of Tilburg, said it was no longer enough to commission a 'starchitect' to draft an iconic building because entirely too many similar buildings could be found anywhere around the globe.
'I saw, as I came in, the new bridge on the Liffey. I thought 'oh, there’s another Calatrava,' he said. Richards was referring to the work of the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, one of the most famous now working.