An Explorative Note on Tourism Development along Former War Front Lines


  • Myriam Jansen-Verbeke University of Leuven



War memories, Tourismification, Experience-scapes, Staged authenticity, Re-enactment


Current research about the pro-active role of tourism in valorizing war memories and landscapes still is in an explorative stage; learning from case studies, all marked by their political context, in time and space, and mainly describing local and/or regional key issues. Obviously, creating landscapes of memories for contemporary uses and visitors’ experiences implies a trans-disciplinary understanding of the process of changing values (heritage landscapes) and of the intrinsic dynamics of tourism development. Shifting values and creativity in linking histories of war sites and their narratives with places and people today, leads to branding ‘sites of memories’ in the mindset of residents and visitors.
We briefly scan four very different examples of border areas with a war history, that became landmarks on the tourist’ maps today.  The challenge for tourism development in former war related sites is to identify the dynamics - in time and space - to assess the political and economic forces and to identify shifts in the process of remembrance and valorization of war heritage sites, in terms of interests in war memories, narratives and experiences. These are now strategically integrated in national, regional and local tourism development planning.
Historical military front zones, political borders in past wars, presently marked as tourism destinations, are on the research agenda of ‘War and Tourism’.  The observations below on four different former  war border zones with their specific landmarks and memoryscapes, are inspiring for current tourism development. Four different war border zones were briefly  explored “The Great Wall in China” “The Roman Limes”, The “Wire of Death”  in the  First World War  and the ”Iron Curtain” in the Cold War. These observations can inspire future research on tourismification of war heritage.


Ashworth, G.J. (2009). From Unclaimed Heritage to an European Opportunity: The 1915 War Cemeteries of Galicia. Geographische Zeitschrift, 97(1), 6–11.

Butler, R. and Suntikul, W. (eds)(2013). War and Tourism, Routledge, Oxford–New York.

Caru, A., and Cova, B. (2003). Revisiting consumption experience: A more humble but complete view of the concept. Marketing Theory, 3(2), 267-286.

Dunkley, R., Morgan, N. and Westwood, S. (2011). Visiting the trenches: Exploring meanings and motivations in battlefield tourism. Tourism Management, 32(4), 860-868.

Egberts, L. and Bosma, K. (eds) (2014). Companion to European Heritage Revivals. Springer Open, Dordrecht.

Hartmann, R. (2014). Dark tourism, thanatourism and dissonance in heritage tourism management: new directions in contemporary tourism research. Journal of Heritage Tourism, 9(2), 166-182.

Iles, J. (2008). Encounters in the fields –Tourism to the battle fields of the Western Front. Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change, 6(2), 138-154.

Jansen-Verbeke, M . (2007). Cultural resources and the tourismification of territories. Acta Turistica Nova, 1, 21-41.

Jansen-Verbeke, M. (2010). Mapping intangible heritage: An inspired dialogue between the virtual past and the experienced present. In: Lira, S. and Amoêda, R. (eds). Constructing Intangible Heritage. Green Lines Institute for Sustainable Development, Barcelos.

Jansen-Verbeke, M. (2013). Mutation of cultural landscapes: the unplanned tourism map of Europe. In: Costa, C., Panyik, E. and Buhalis, D. (eds) Trends in European Tourism, Planning and Organisation. Channel View Publications, Bristol. pp. 15-32.

Jansen-Verbeke, M. and George, W. (2013). Reflections on the Great War Centenary: from warscapes to memoryscapes in 100 Years. In: Butler, R. and Suntikul, W. (eds), War and Tourism, Routledge, Oxford, pp. 273-287.

Jansen-Verbeke, M. and George, W. (2015). Memoryscapes of the Great War (1914-1918): A paradigm shift in tourism research on war heritage. @Via Tourism Review, 2(8), 2-26.

Kovacs, J.F. and Osborne, B.S. (2014). A Bibliography: The Great War (1914-1918) Halifax, World Heritage Tourism Research Network, Mount Vincent University.

Mansfeld, Y. and Korman, T. (2015). Between war and peace; conflict heritage tourism along three Israeli borders areas. Tourism Geographies, 17(3), 437-460.

Ryan, C. (2011). Ways of conceptualising the tourist experience: A review of literature. In: Sharpley, R. and Stone, P.R. (eds.), Tourist experience: Contemporary perspectives. Routledge, London & New , pp. 9-20.

Salazar, N. (2012). Shifting values and meanings of heritage: From cultural appropriation to tourism interpretation and back. In: Lyon, S.M. and Wells, C.E. (eds) Global tourism: Cultural heritage and economic encounters. Lanham, Altamira, pp. 21-41.

Scates, B. (2006). Return to Gallipoli: Walking the Battlefields of the Great War, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Sörensen, S. and Dacia Viejo, R.M.L. (eds) (2015). War and Cultural Heritage. Cambridge Press, Cambridge.

Tunbridge, J., Ashworth, G. and Graham, D. (2012). A Geography of Heritage; Power, Culture and Economy (discussion note)

Van der Plaetsen, P. (2014). When the past comes to life. Historical reenactment. In: Egberts, L. and Bosma, K. Companion to European Heritage Revivals, Springer Open, Dordrecht, pp. 151-167.

Vanneste, A. (2013). La clôture électrifié à la frontière belgo-hollandaise pendant la première guerre mondiale electrifiéé.php

Vanneste, A. (2014). The Belgian-Dutch border during the First World War. A second Belgian front? The Low Countries, 22, 74-83.

Vanneste, D. et al. (2016). Mapping visits to memorial sites and events of the Great War, Mappemundi, forthcoming

Waterton, E. and Watson, S. (2014). The Semiotics of Heritage Tourism. Channel View Publications, Bristol.

Winter, C. (2011). First World War Cemeteries: Insights from Visitor Books, Tourism Geographies, 13(3), 462-479.

Winter, J. (1995). Sites of Memory Sites of Mourning. The Great War in European Cultural History, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

UNWTO (2013). The Chinese Outbound Travel Market – 2012 Update.

Das Leben der Andere (2006) directed by Florian Henchel von Donnersmarck, Germany.




How to Cite

Jansen-Verbeke, M. (2016). An Explorative Note on Tourism Development along Former War Front Lines. Almatourism - Journal of Tourism, Culture and Territorial Development, 7(5), 1–25.