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Ethnic Heritage as a Tourist Attraction: the Peranakans of Singapore

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Singapore's multiculturalism is an important theme in the country's destination marketing and the paper explores the manner in which ethnicity is depicted in promotional material and the forces shaping the decision-making process. The nature of Peranakan culture, a unique synthesis of Chinese and Malay influences, is the subject of particular discussion and its actual and potential role as a tourism resource is analysed. State authorities are seen to exercise considerable power, making use of tourism images to reinforce political ideologies through the communication of messages about preferred versions of identities. However, tourism representations also convey something of the complex realities of identity in Singapore and perhaps can assist in increasing awareness of, and protecting, the cultural heritage of more marginalised groups. Insights are thus offered into the relationship between tourism and ethnic heritage in plural societies and its management.
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Keywords: Ethnic Identity; Heritage; National Identity; Peranakans; Singapore; Tourism

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2003

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