Clarifying heritage tourism : distinguishing heritage tourists from tourists in heritage places
Observing visitors' behaviour in places presenting heritage and reviewing the tourism literature dealing with 'heritage tourism', led to this research that aimed to clarify the core of heritage tourism. In this research the common approach that tourists visiting heritage sites is called "heritage tourism", was challenged. The relationship between four groups of variables (1- the tourists' personal characteristics, 2- the tourists' awareness of the history of the site, 3- the tourists' perception of the site in relation to their own heritage and, 4 - the site attributes) and the tourists' visitation patterns (before the visit, during the visit, and after the visit) as the outcome variables was investigated. The actual study was conducted in Israel, due to its attributes as an area containing a variety of heritage sites in a relatively short distance, which relate to different tourists on different grounds, mainly looking at two sites: the Wailing Wall and Massada. The results indicate that the relationship between the tourists and the heritage site attributes is at the core of this social phenomenon. Specifically it was revealed that the tourists' perception of the site as part of their own heritage is associated with the tourists' visitations patterns at the site. The understanding of this relationship is useful for the study of heritage related behaviour including heritage tourism and has also potential contribution for the management of sites presenting historic and heritage artefacts. The approach used in this research could also be useful for challenging the existence of other sub-groups of tourism, and for the understanding of tourism as a general phenomenon. The study also suggests new approaches for the understanding of social behaviour in the context of heritage-related behaviour, which could be useful for other social research disciplines.