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Local Uniqueness in the Global Village: Heritage Tourism in Singapore

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It is commonly assumed that the development of tourist attractions, the formulation of tourism policies, and the marketing of destination areas are dictated by the needs and interests of foreign visitors. What is ignored is the role that local factors and agencies play in these processes. This paper explores the way local and non-local factors are responsible for shaping the form and function of tourism development. Drawing upon the case of Singapore, I examine the country's heritage tourism phenomenon as the outcome of “local” and “global” forces. This argument is elaborated along three lines of enquiry. They include: (a) a study of the government's tourism policies; (b) an examination of marketing and promotional strategies; and (c) a look at a particular urban landscape—the Little India Historic District. To conceptualize the global-local nexus, the paper embraces two bodies of theory. They are the “locality concept” advanced by industrial geographers in the 1980s, and writings on “globalism/localism” by cultural/economic geographers in the 1990s. Both theoretical discussions reinforce the argument that place uniqueness need not be sacrificed as a result of globalization. They also provide a way of viewing tourism geographies as the product of global and local forces.

Keywords: Heritage; Singapore; global; local; tourism

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: National University of Singapore

Publication date: February 1, 1999

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