The World Tourism Organisation (WTO) forecasts that 1.6 billion people will travel as tourists by the year 2020 – a figure that adds up to nearly twice as many visitors as the 700 million registered in 2004. And big name attractions such as the Eiffel Tower and the Statue Of Liberty attract millions annually, providing their host cities with not only an influx of visitors, but that much loved tourist dollar.
Yet some might be impatient with this fascination for the past. And the argument goes something like this. Such attractions, whilst providing an undeniable thrill to the tourist, actually tell us very little about the lives of the current inhabitants. Indeed, these 21st century urbanites are perhaps both blessed and disadvantaged through location. Is it their lot in life to live in the shadow of these monuments or do they throw caution to the wind and blithely cast historical shackles aside?