Hayley Done is a history teacher from the International School of Lyon (ISL). Speaking during the third day of the Cultural Memory Committee, she gave a speech about protecting heritage sites for and from the tourists.
Taking as a case study the very well known site of the Mont-Saint-Michel situated in the North West of France, she explained the damage caused by the overwhelming amount of tourists walking on the medieval streets of the island each year. Indeed, more than 2.5 million tourists rush toward the monastery every year, in order to admire the splendid view of the bay.
In this case, the amount of tourist has an effect on the economy of the entire region. Creating jobs, keeping the hotels full the whole year round, and of course buying memorabilia available in the souvenir shops situated in each street corner on the island. They are an economic asset and they aid the growth of the region of Normandie.
However, the island with its medieval buildings and streets was not designed to handle the amount of people that it sees daily. The tourists also show themselves to be uneducated, by littering the sites and graffitiing the walls of world heritage sites. Educating tourists is not an easy task, as it necessitates time and financial resources, but it is essential in preserving these sites.
According to Ms Done, a correct balance needs to be found between economic growth, sustainability, and spreading culture to a wider public. Some sites suffer from the amount of uneducated tourists: such as Rome where hooligans regularly trash the street; or the pyramids of Giza where a tourist climbed the monument for the sole purpose of taking an unexpected selfie. Other sites have managed to be restored, like the Angkor Thom in Cambodia. The main goal is sustainability, and stabilizing the situation requires a massive effort from the local governments, tourists, and the media. The Cultural Memory Committee will discuss solutions to this issue during the third and last day of Ilymun.