The tourism paradox
Public funding for staging commemorative events is often provided on the basis that it will stimulate tourism, creating a tangible (and measurable) economic legacy, which justifies the expense. However, this may be a high-risk strategy, as commemorative events may have limited tourist appeal. While some commemorative events strongly engage with communities, this connection is often very personal and the impact may be focussed on particular local, ethnic or national groups. The appeal to outsiders may be quite limited. Yet, it is these outside groups that governments and other stakeholders expect to provide flows of tourists and economic benefits. Commemorative events are often distinguished by this paradox of tourism expectations. In encouraging locals to reflect upon their identities and remember historical incidents, commemorative events have an important role in society. They may also attract tourists, but they may not. The common trap is believing that their significance to local and national identities will translate to interest amongst groups that do not share these identities. Falling for that trap, organisers and funding bodies may find there is a financial hangover and disappointment that the promised tourism benefits did not materialise.