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Keywords:

  • tourism;
  • applied anthropology;
  • community-based planning;
  • heritage;
  • ethnography

Using a case study approach, this article demonstrates how applied anthropological research can be used in heritage tourism planning, specifically in regions designated by state or federal government as “heritage areas.” The participatory nature of ethnographic research not only identifies the ideas, perspectives, and needs that are vital to an effective heritage tourism plan, it also brings together the individuals and agencies that will become actively involved in the implementation of the plan. This reduces the distinction between the phases of planning and acting and promotes ownership and involvement in the tourism strategy. Because of this, both the ethnographic research process and the data it generates are complimentary components of community-based tourism planning. Also discussed are some common issues that arise in heritage tourism planning, such as conflicting stakeholder desires for resources, community frustration or exhaustion with the planning process, and mixed definitions of the concept of “heritage.”