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UNESCO-enlisted Cultural landscapes: their presence and presentation in eLearning courses by National Tourism Destinations

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National Tourism Offices are currently using different channels to promote destinations and its tourism product: directly to the end consumer, through the media, or in collaboration with the travel trade intermediaries: tour operators and travel agents. This paper will evaluate how innovative technologies, in particular eLearning courses, are being used in the awareness-raising, representation and training about Cultural landscapes. The focus in this research is on communication practices through online training platforms of the national tourism administrations, excluding all platforms for tourists, city marketing, attracting visitors, and the like. In particular, this research presents an analysis of the eLearning courses offered by National Tourism Offices, particularly concentrating on the countries hosting UNESCO-enlisted Cultural landscapes. Such eLearning courses are offered to travel agents and travel consultants all around the world in order to prepare them with the knowledge on the tourism destination and its attractions. While successfully finishing the course travel agents are expected to have needed knowledge about such a tourism destination, to be aware on who the right clients are and how to sell better the destination to them. This research will assess (i) presence of UNESCO-enlisted Cultural landscapes in such training activities, and (ii) the way they are presented, framed and featured.
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PLEASE REFER TO THE PRINTED ARTICLE AND CITE IT AS FOLLOWS:
Kalbaska, N. & Cantoni, L. (2016). UNESCO enlisted cultural Landscapes: their presence and presentation in eLearning
courses by national destinations. Tourism and Cultural Landscapes: towards a sustainable approach Conference. Budapest,
Hungary. (pp.282 - 294).
1
UNESCO-enlisted Cultural landscapes: their presence and
presentation in eLearning courses by National Tourism
Destinations
Nadzeya Kalbaska, PhD
Post-doctoral researcher
Universita’ della Svizzera italiana (USI)
Lugano Switzerland
e-mail: nadzeya.kalbaska@usi.ch
Lorenzo Cantoni, PhD
Professor
Universita’ della Svizzera italiana (USI)
Lugano Switzerland
e-mail: lorenzo.cantoni@usi.ch
Abstract
National Tourism Offices are currently using different channels to promote
destinations and its tourism product: directly to the end consumer, through the
media, or in collaboration with the travel trade intermediaries: tour operators and
travel agents.
This paper will evaluate how innovative technologies, in particular eLearning
courses, are being used in the awareness-raising, representation and training
about Cultural landscapes.
The focus in this research is on communication practices through online training
platforms of the national tourism administrations, excluding all platforms for
tourists, city marketing, attracting visitors, and the like. In particular, this research
presents an analysis of the eLearning courses offered by National Tourism Offices,
particularly concentrating on the countries hosting UNESCO-enlisted Cultural
landscapes. Such eLearning courses are offered to travel agents and travel
consultants all around the world in order to prepare them with the knowledge on
the tourism destination and its attractions. While successfully finishing the course
travel agents are expected to have needed knowledge about such a tourism
destination, to be aware on who the right clients are and how to sell better the
destination to them.
This research will assess (i) presence of UNESCO-enlisted Cultural landscapes in
such training activities, and (ii) the way they are presented, framed and featured.
Keywords:
eLearning, cultural landscapes, tourism training, ICT, destination marketing
NADZEYA KALBASKA AND LORENZO CANTONI
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Introduction
eLearning has been playing a major role within the tourism and hospitality sector since the
beginning of the XXI century. The tourism industry faces structural human resource
problems such as skills shortages and staff turnover, seasonality and a high percentage of
SMEs whose employees have limited time for training, knowledge upgrade or education. At
the same time tourism corporations, for instance hotel chains, transportation companies
airlines, have the problem of the employees that need similar training all around the globe.
Provision of such a training offer is a very costly activity. eLearning is believed to be useful
in addressing some of these training issues (Cantoni, et al., 2009; Kalbaska, 2012; Kuttainen
& Lexhagen, 2012; Sigala, 2002).
In particular, Destination Management Organizations (DMOs) at different levels: national,
regional and cities, have started to adopt eLearning in order to provide basic knowledge about
tourism destinations to foreign travel agents. Several tourism offices globally are taking the
responsibility of providing online education and training to the businesses working in the
tourism sector. This is particularly relevant in emerging markets where travel agents are still
intermediating most of the travel selling activities, but unfortunately don’t have an extensive
knowledge of the destinations they “sell”. Such eLearning courses do provide very different
learning experiences, ranging from simple online brochures accompanied by quizzes to
highly interactive and rich courses, requiring up to 40 hours of studying time (Cantoni, et. al,
2009). Most of such courses include historical, geographical and cultural information, along
with itinerary-planning recommendations to travel agents and travel consultants.
Additionally, some courses are offered in various versions suited to different markets, where
not the same attractions and areas of a country are proposed to different involved publics and
stakeholders.
The assessments of the presence of UNESCO-enlisted Cultural landscapes is necessary in
order to evaluate the representation of such an important part of the tourism destination offer,
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along with an understanding on the room for possible improvement within national and
international training context.
This paper is structured as follows. Section 2 discusses related work. Section 3 presents the
method used and the undertaken research. Finally, Section 4 presents the summary with
conclusions, limitations of this research work as well as proposes future research lines.
Literature review
eLearning involves all technology-enabled learning activities, which include the delivery and
management of training options and all the types of support via desktop computers, mobile
and tablets, networked and web-based technology. Educational service providers offer online
lessons and webinars, online tests and video-tutorials, as well as educational consulting to
meet the diverse demands of their global customers. According to Zornada (2005, p.14),
eLearning from the company point of view, is a “revolutionary way to empower workforce
with the skills and knowledge the company needs to keep a balanced performance within a
rapidly changing international market”. Online training courses can use the technologies
available today in order to create learning process as interactive, fun and efficient as possible.
They can also increase information retention and motivation of the learners.
DMOs have been using eLearning courses in the last decade with the aim of educating their
travel trade partners: travel agents, travel consultants and tour operators. These online
training activities designed for national and international travel trade are used in order to
teach the later ones on how to sell a country or a region as a tourism destination. Currently
71 eLearning courses are offered by the DMOs at the national level. Examples of such
courses include Botswana Tourism Training Course, Switzerland Travel Academy, and the
Aussie Specialist Program (Kalbaska, 2012).
DMOs are using such training activities also for the creation of the brand awareness of the
destination, so that travel agents can understand better the difference between one and another
tourism destinations, while clearly differentiating their particularities.
On the other side, travel agents have also understood the importance of such training
activities. As with a continuous growth of the importance of ICTs and online booking
channels, along with a very knowledgeable consumer who is able to plan and book trips on
himself, travel agents need to develop strong product knowledge to remain competitive.
Furthermore, the complex nature of the tourism industry creates challenges for tourism
professionals. Constant changes and uncertainty of the sectors require all the employees to
learn continuously. A travel agent can remain competitive within this complex and
competitive environment only if he/she become a knowledgeable advisor, who provides
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recommendations, creativity and advocacy of the destination. eLearning courses about
tourism destinations are often used by travel agents and travel professionals, as they offer
flexibility of the learning environment, but also save time and money.
Online training courses about tourism destinations have been studied extensively so far: from
the framing of the eLearning courses offer by DMOs into the overall map of existing
eLearning courses in the hospitality and tourism domain (Cantoni, et.al, 2009); to the
benchmarking studies on the structure of such a training offer (Kalbaska, 2012; 2014); to the
understanding of the motivations of the travel agents coming from different geographical
contexts on undertaking such training activities (Kalbaska, et.al, 2013, Van Zyl, et.al, 2015);
to the evaluation of formality/ informality of such learning context (Adukaite, et.al, forth).
To our knowledge, so far the content structure of such online training activities has not been
studied. Furthermore, no record were found of the related research on the “presentation” of
UNESCO sites in general and UNESCO-enlisted Cultural Landscapes in particular in the
framework of online training activities created for the travel trade. Articles 4 and 5 of the
World Heritage Convention clearly state that apart from conservation and protection of world
heritage of the Outstanding Universal Value, also its “presentation” (UNESCO, 1972: p. 3)
is among the main aims of UNESCO. This task of presentation implies communication and
creation of public awareness among the local community (UNESCO, 1972), but without any
doubt it also reaches beyond national borders, and thus clearly concerns the field of tourism
(Pedersen, 2002).
National Tourism Offices, responsible for marketing, interpretation and communication of
the tourism destinations globally are currently using different channels to promote
destinations and its tourism product: directly to the end consumer, through the media, or in
collaboration with travel trade intermediaries tour operators and travel agents. As the travel
trade still possess an important sales value globally, especially in the emerging markets,
education and training of them should be a crucial activity for a DMO.
This paper presents a benchmarking analysis of several courses offered by the National
Tourism Offices representing the countries hosting UNESCO-enlisted Cultural landscapes.
The research will assess (i) the presence of the UNESCO-enlisted Cultural landscapes in such
training activities, and (ii) the way they are presented, framed and featured.
For the sake of this research, the following definition of the UNESCO-enlisted Cultural
landscapes has been taken into consideration: “There exist a great variety of landscapes that
are representative of the different regions of the world. Combined works of nature and
humankind, they express a long and intimate relationship between peoples and their natural
environment. Certain sites reflect specific techniques of land use that guarantee and sustain
biological diversity. Others, associated in the minds of the communities with powerful beliefs
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and artistic and traditional customs, embody an exceptional spiritual relationship of people
with nature. To reveal and sustain the great diversity of the interactions between humans and
their environment, to protect living traditional cultures and preserve the traces of those which
have disappeared, these sites, called cultural landscapes, have been inscribed on the World
Heritage List” (UNESCO, 2016). The examples of cultural landscapes are cultivated terraces
on the mountains, gardens, and sacred places. In March 2016, there were 88 properties in the
UNESCO World Heritage List indicated as cultural landscapes.
Methodology
With the main goal on evaluating the eLearning courses offered by National Tourism Offices
and focusing on the countries hosting the UNESCO-enlisted Cultural landscapes, the
benchmarking analysis has been undertaken in March 2016. The following official list of the
UNESCO listed Cultural landscapes has been taken into consideration:
http://whc.unesco.org/en/culturallandscape. This list featured in March 2016 88 UNESCO
Cultural Landscapes properties, belonging to 56 countries.
The list of UNESCO has been checked against an available collection of existing eLearning
courses offered by National Tourism Office: www.elearning4tourism.com, which in March
2016 featured 71 available eLearning courses created to train travel agents and travel
consultants.
Finally, 21 nations were taken into consideration as they do possess both UNESCO Cultural
Landscapes (33) and their National Tourism Offices have created eLearning courses for the
travel trade. As such eLearning courses might potentially present UNESCO Cultural
landscapes to the travel trade who should sell the destination to the end client they will be
analysed within the study.
This research aims to:
assess the presence of UNESCO-enlisted Cultural landscapes in the eLearning courses
offered by National Tourism Offices,
to evaluate how they are framed and featured.
International versions of 21 eLearning courses were analyzed, where the language of the
training activity was English. Different linguistic versions were not taken into consideration
within this study.
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Results
With the aim on assessing the presence of UNESCO-enlisted Cultural landscapes in the
eLearning courses offered by National Tourism Offices, 21 available eLearning courses were
analysed within the study. Among them, Austria Expert Program, Canada Specialist
Program, Britain Agent, Switzerland Travel Academy. The full list of the analysed eLearning
courses can be seen in the Table 1.
As previously anticipated in the methodology section, 21 nations were taken into
consideration as they do possess UNESCO cultural landscapes and their National Tourism
Offices have created eLearning courses for the travel trade. These eLearning courses might
potentially present UNESCO cultural landscapes to the travel trade who should sell the
destination to the end client tourists, who potentially might visit the destination and can be
interested in the main attractions/ activities present there.
Among analysed 21 eLearning courses about tourism destinations at the national level, only
10 of them do tackle the topic of UNESCO sites overall, while other 11 ones do not even
mention the existence and presence of enlisted cultural and natural heritage sites in the
countries they promote.
It is interesting to mention where within the training structure of the eLearning courses for
the travel trade UNESCO sites are being positioned. In half of the cases, hence in five
eLearning courses about tourism destinations UNESCO is being mentioned in the
introductory modules, where the destination overall is being presented while giving a general
overview of the tourism offer in the country. The example of the introductory module of the
“Canada Specialist Program” can be seen in Figure 1. The number of UNESCO-enlisted sites
is being featured already in the first Module, on its introductory slide.
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Figure 1. Canada Specialist Program
In other three cases, dedicated paragraphs were covering UNESCO World Heritage Sites,
under the following sections: “History, Culture and Activities” (Scandinavia Specialist:
Norway Knowledge and Sweden Specialist) and “Food and Drinks, Archaeological Sites,
National Natural Parks” (Learn Colombia).
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Figure 2. Scandinavia Specialist eLearning course
Only in two cases, there were dedicated modules to the topics related to the UNESCO sites:
within the Switzerland Travel Academy there is a module titled “11 UNESCO World
Heritage Sites and 2 Biosphere Reserves”,
within the course of the Austrian Certified Travel Specialist, there is a module called
“World Heritage Sites”. See Figure. 3.
Figure. 3. Austrian Certified Travel Specialist
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Another interesting fact is that only in one case of the Canada Specialist Program there is a
link present to the UNESCO official website, while the other eLearning courses providers
are missing the opportunity to provide travel agents with the link to the official information
source. In this situation, tourism destinations could gain a lot not only by training travel
agents directly, but also by giving them the right tools to find information by themselves.
In six cases out of ten, all enlisted World Heritage Sites (WHs) were presented in the online
training course, while in other four cases some WHSs were present, but not all of them were
featured.
The number of existing Unesco Heritage Sites in the country has been also checked within
the course. Among 10 existing mentioning of the WHSs, three were providing an outdated
information on the number of the enlisted courses. These courses are: Canada Specialist
Program, Magic of Mexica, and Scandinavia Specialist while presenting Norway as a tourism
destination. This might be explained by the fact that the eLearning activities might have been
developed before the WHSs were enlisted. On the other side, as travel agents are looking for
the updated and reliable information, course developments should take this fact into
consideration.
Unexpectedly in none of the cases, enlisted Cultural landscapes were indicated in the
eLearning courses as such. Furthermore, the concept of Cultural Landscape has not bene
presented in the courses, neither any indication on the sustainability or sustainable behavior
at the sites has been found.
Conclusions and limitations
The results of this study show that a very limited number of eLearning courses for the travel
trade are actually presenting UNESCO sites. Even if they are mentioned within the online
training courses, few of them are actually receiving needed endorsement within the training
activities. Furthermore, none of the studied courses presented UNESCO-enlisted Cultural
landscapes as such.
Very few eLearning courses creators are providing the links to the official source of
information about the outstanding values of the UNESCO sites. As such, they are missing
out the possibility of providing knowledge to the travel agents and through them to the end
clients potential visitors of the destination.
Findings of this research suggest that various managing organizations of the UNESCO sites
aiming to cover the promotion of WHSs in general and UNESCO-enlisted Cultural
Landscapes in particular should:
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improve the coverage of the information about the nomination of WHS and its
significance to the destination in the eLearning courses to the travel trade;
provide links to the official source: the website of UNESCO, where travel agents can
find further information on the enlisted property and its outstanding value;
provide suggestions on sustainable tourism development and behaviour at and around
UNESCO enlisted sites;
provision of updated and reliable information, so that travel agents can use it directly
while presenting and promoting the destinations to the end clients.
The benchmarking and the review of the chosen eLearning courses was done only in English.
Other versions of the eLearning courses were not analysed. Such an analysis might bring
different results and enlighten new parameters, thus this might be suggested to be undertaken
in the future research.
Another limitation of this study might belong to the fact that the topic of UNESCO sites in
general and Cultural landscapes in particular, might not be perceived as a relevant one in
order to be introduces to the travel trade. Further qualitative studies can be suggested with
the creators of the eLearning activities and managers of travel trade relationships in order to
evaluate the content creation procedure and the decision making process within the eLearning
development.
Furthermore, future research might look at if National Tourism Organizations are
communicating UNESCO-enlisted Cultural landscapes on other online platforms, such as
national tourism websites open for general public: tourists, visitors, and the like. In addition,
if they are presented in such sites, it would be essential to evaluate in which way they are
being portrayed and how such landscapes are being presented to travel agents and travellers
coming from different markets, as they might have different perceptions of such places and
different educational needs (Mele, De Ascaniis, Cantoni, 2015).
Table 1. eLearning courses offered by NTOs home to UNESCO enlisted Cultural Landscapes.
*Not a single course explicitly mentions the very name “Cultural Landscape”.
Country
UNESCO enlisted Cultural Landscape
eLearning Course title
Austria
Hallstatt-Dachstein / Salzkammergut Cultural
Landscape
Wachau Cultural Landscape
Fertö / Neusiedlersee Cultural Landscape
Austrian Certified Travel
Specialist
All WHSs
mentioned. Number of
WHS is correct.
Brazil
Rio de Janeiro: Carioca Landscapes between the
Mountain and the Sea
Brazil Training Course
Some WHSs
mentioned but not
Cultural landscapes.
Number of WHS is
correct.
Canada
Landscape of Grand Pré
Canada Specialist Program
All WHSs
mentioned. Outdated
numbers (16 instead of
17)
China
Lushan National Park
Mount Wutai
West Lake Cultural Landscape of Hangzhou
PATA Academy China
-
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Cultural Landscape of Honghe Hani Rice
Terraces
Colombia
Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia
Learn Colombia
Some WHSs
mentioned, but not
Cultural landscapes.
Numbers are not
mentioned.
Indonesia
Cultural Landscape of Bali Province: the Subak
System as a Manifestation of the Tri Hita Karana
Philosophy
PATA Academy
Indonesia
-
Kenya
Sacred Mijikenda Kaya Forests
Jambo Kenya
-
Laos
Vat Phou and Associated Ancient Settlements
within the Champasak Cultural Landscape
PATA Academy Laos
Some WHSs
mentioned, but not
Cultural landscapes.
Numbers are not
mentioned.
Mauritius
Le Morne Cultural Landscape
Mauritius Destination
Training Programme
-
Mexico
Agave Landscape and Ancient Industrial
Facilities of Tequila
Prehistoric Caves of Yagul and Mitla in the
Central Valley of Oaxaca
Magic of Mexico
WHSs mentioned.
Outdated numbers (32
instead of 33)
New Zealand
Tongariro National Park
Kiwi Specialist Programme
-
Norway
Vegaøyan -- The Vega Archipelago
Scandinavia Specialist
WHSs mentioned.
Outdated numbers (7
instead of 8)
Papua New
Guinea
Kuk Early Agricultural Site
Papua New Guinea
Specialist
-
Philippines
Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras
PATA Academy
Philippines
-
South Africa
Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape
Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape
South African Expert
Training
-
Spain
Pyrénées - Mont Perdu
Aranjuez Cultural Landscape
Cultural Landscape of the Serra de Tramuntana
Spain Specialist
-
Sweden
Agricultural Landscape of Southern Öland
Scandinavia Specialist
All WHSs
mentioned. Numbers
ok.
Switzerland
Lavaux, Vineyard Terraces
Switzerland Travel
Academy
All WHSs
mentioned. Numbers
ok.
UK
St Kilda
Blaenavon Industrial Landscape
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape
Britain Agent
-
USA
Papahānaumokuākea
Visit USA Training
-
Viet Nam
Trang An Landscape Complex
PATA Academy Viet
Nam
Some WHSs
mentioned, but not
Cultural landscapes.
Numbers are not
mentioned.
NADZEYA KALBASKA AND LORENZO CANTONI
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Literature
[1] Aduikaite, A., Kalbaska, N., & Cantoni. L. (forth). Evaluation of formality and
informality of the learning context. The case of online training courses about
tourism destinations. Zeitschrift für Tourismuswissenschaft.
[2] Cantoni, L., Kalbaska, N., & Inversini, A. (2009). eLearning in tourism and
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[3] Kalbaska, N. (2012).Travel agents and destination management organizations:
eLearning as a strategy to train tourism trade partners. Journal of Information
Technology & Tourism, 13(1), 1-12.
[4] Kalbaska, N. (2014). National Tourism Organizations’ online training offer:
Switzerland Travel Academy Case Study. ELC Research Paper Series, 8, 35-44.
[5] Kalbaska, N., Lee, A., Cantoni, L., & Law, R. (2013). UK travel agents’ evaluation
of eLearning courses offered by destinations: An exploratory study. Journal of
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[6] Mele, E., De Ascaniis, S., & Cantoni, L. (2015). Localization of National Tourism
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[8] Pedersen, A. (2002). Managing Tourism at World Heritage Sites: a Practical Manual
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[10] Zornada, M. (2005). E-learning and the changing face of corporate training and
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[11] Van Zyl, I., Kalbaska, N., & Cantoni, L. (2015). The use of eLearning courses in
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[12] UNESCO (1972) Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and
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[13] UNESCO (2016). Cultural Landscapes. Retrieved on April 8, 2016 from
http://whc.unesco.org/en/culturallandscape
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Although an increasing number of tourism and hospitality educators are incorporating the Internet into their instruction, only few are fully exploiting the Internet's capabilities to transform and extend their pedagogical models. As it is also generally agreed that we are still in the experimental stage for creating Internet learning environments, this paper aims at reviewing and evaluating the evolution of practices in Internet pedagogy in order to identify effective e-learning models for tourism and hospitality education. As the evaluation of any form of learning should be based on a theoretical framework to allow for the interpretation of results, the pedagogical underpinnings of the e-learning models are analysed and mapped into a three-era framework of e-learning pedagogy.
Evaluation of formality and informality of the learning context. The case of online training courses about tourism destinations
  • A Aduikaite
  • N Kalbaska
  • L Cantoni
Aduikaite, A., Kalbaska, N., & Cantoni. L. (forth). Evaluation of formality and informality of the learning context. The case of online training courses about tourism destinations. Zeitschrift für Tourismuswissenschaft.
Managing Tourism at World Heritage Sites: a Practical Manual for World Heritage Site Managers
  • A Pedersen
Pedersen, A. (2002). Managing Tourism at World Heritage Sites: a Practical Manual for World Heritage Site Managers, World Heritage Manuals 1, Paris: UNESCO World Heritage Centre.