The 15th ERIH conference from 16 to 18 October 2019 was a festive edition. The European network on industrial heritage was established in 1999. As such it also got to celebrate its 20th anniversary. The central theme of the Berlin meeting was 'Industrial heritage tourism: it's all in the mix'. Industrial heritage is increasingly becoming an important pillar within the tourism sector in Europe. The 90 participants went in search of good European practices and ways to apply them in their own regions.
‘Heritage tourism must be managed well’ is an issue that was raised several times during the congress. Some industrial heritage regions and sites even attract too many visitors (overtourism), such as the Pilsner Urquell brewery in Plzen (Czech Republic) or the Cracow Saltworks Museum mining site in Wieliczka (Poland). This last site, recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, attracts more than 1.5 million visitors a year.
This trend leads to the development of another type of heritage tourism, such as the Radrevier.ruhr, a vast cycle network with nodes specially developed for the industrial heritage in the Ruhr area in Germany. Detourism was also discussed: travel agencies which develop packages to visit and explore abandoned industrial heritage regions. This appears to be a growing market, though it raises many questions about safety and desirability.
In 2020, the 16th ERIH conference will be organized in the Museum of Industry (and home to ETWIE) in Ghent. Mark 7 to 9 October 2020 on your calendar!