The ABCs of cultural heritage tourism

This project for school pupils in a rural area of Croatia provided a basis in cultural heritage tourism throughout the school year.

Pupils collaborated to build a new visitor attraction for their town out of Lego (Images: Milanovic)

An interesting project called 'The ABCs of cultural heritage tourism' was delivered to the school, Professor Franjo Viktor Šignjar, in the village of Virje, Croatia. It was developed for pupils aged 11 to 15. The project was conducted as an extracurricular activity for pupils who picked this as a subject of interest. The activity was held once a week during the school year lasting one hour and a half. The starting point for the project was that creating an experience is the foundation of the success of any business and any destination and that every destination relies on its people. Pupils learnt about cultural heritage tourism, starting with basic concepts and building up to the final activity where they were due to promote what they had learnt throughout the school year. Unfortunately, they had no opportunity to show the result of the project because of the lockdown during March and April.

Throughout the school year they learnt who runs tourist destinations and who works in the tourism sector, they learnt about typical jobs in tourism and created a questionaire for the locals to find out about their knowledge on tourism. Every week they had a different guest from the tourism sector. They learnt about gamification in tourism and how to create a gaming experience, they learnt the difference between DMOs (detination management organisations) and tourist boards, what a local museum is and what it should offer in terms of tourism, what is a tour guide, why hotels might hire an entertainment team, what is their main job and what a day in the life of an entertainer looks like. They learnt the value of traditional skills in creating tourism products, learnt about the souvenir shop, which message should be presented through tourist souvenirs and why it is important to the tourist destination. The project also included the importance of filming and photography in tourism and information about rural tourism: who is an interpretive guide and the importance of natural and cultural interpretation, why it is important to create tourism with local people, the importance of local stories, folk tales, folklore, legends, local customs and more for building the authenticity of the destination, can a little village be a tourist destination? All this and many more questions were considered.   

The pupils used many different materials and many tools to learn about their destination. When they just started to learn about the ABCs of tourism, they had the opinion that the village had nothing to offer in terms of tourism, they had a basic knowledge about famous people of their region, about local history, customs, about local heritage and local stories, and they thought rural galleries and museums were less attractive and important, compared to larger, urban ones. During the year they talked to their neighbours, their grandparents, they visited local crafts people, and gradually they felt more engaged with and connected to the local traditions. One of the tasks was to detect the important points which could be attractive to tourism. At the beginning they had trouble finding any attraction, but later they learnt that many things can be important. They enjoyed learning about interpretive guides and they built a new attraction for the village out of Lego bricks.

The Covid-19 pandemic stopped the activity before it was complete so we never had the opportunity to see the results of everything they had learnt, but the idea was to promote the project to all parents, visitors and tourists through a game they had created during the year, where guests can learn about the destination, discover places of interest and be entertained, and after the game they will come to the souvenir shop, a school cooperative, which offers souvenirs based on the local traditions. We entered this project to the ERASMUS scheme and hope we will be able to continue to develop it in the future.

Elizabeta Milanović Glavica is a university specialist in tourism and hospitality management from Koprivnica, Croatia. She works for the Central Podravina Tourist Board ( She is a member of Interpret Croatia and Interpret Europe and is an IE Certified Interpretive Guide (CIG) and IE Tourism Coordinator. She can be contacted at: or

To cite this article:
Milanović, Elizabeta (2020) 'The ABCs of cultural heritage tourism'. In Interpret Europe Newsletter 2-2020, 24-25.
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