HTF Chairman Debbie Dance visited China as the guest of the British Council to speak at the 2012 China-UK Cultural Heritage Forum in Zhouzhuang, China. This was the first international heritage conference, with UK representatives joining Chinese policy-makers, scholars and practitioners to exchange their experience in practice, government policy-making, cultural industry development and involving young people in heritage protection. The delegation was led by Professor Ruan Yisan of the Ruan Yisan Heritage Foundation, who has visited the UK on a number of occasions.
Debbie Dance delivered the keynote speech on ‘Heritage and Tourism’ highlighting the contribution heritage and historic towns make to the UK economy. Tourism contributes £97 billion 9.8% GDP, in which heritage plays a significant role, being the reason for 2/3rd of visits to the UK, and with over half of all city visits being heritage linked. Debbie, who is Chief Executive of Oxford Preservation Trust, used Oxford Castle as a Case Study for investment in heritage. http://www.oxfordpreservation.org.uk/projects/castleyard
Six other UK speakers from recognised heritage organisations also spoke including Kersten England, Chief Executive of York City Council, and representatives from the International National Trust and others.
Debbie says “The opportunity for each of our countries to talk together and to meet as individuals to share experiences was invaluable. This visit was an ideal opportunity to compare and contrast culture and heritage and learn from best practice from across the world.” A delegation from China will visit Oxford in the Autumn.