Industrial tourism

Industrial tourism is tourism in which the desired destination includes industrial sites peculiar to a particular location. The concept is not new, as it includes wine tours in France, visits to cheesemakers in the Netherlands, Jack Daniel’s distillery tours in the United States (available since 1866), but has taken on renewed interest in recent times, with both industrial heritage sites and modern industry attracting tourism.

Even if the concept is subjective, depending on a person’s preferences, it has been noticed (through market researches) that people like to see and experience the present or historic (heritage) production processes of:

goods with a symbolic character for a region (from coal and energy in Ruhr, to bananas and coffee in Guatemala);
branded, luxury goods like cars, watches and jewels;
technologically demanding, innovative goods like computers and airplanes;
handcrafted goods like porcelain and blacksmith products;
drinks and foods.
An attractions directory for some Central SE European countries illustrates and includes this classification.

The attractiveness perception is also influenced by the cities’ of destination ability to build touristic packages that reflect their industrial image and/or identity; respectively, in the case of tour operators, by mastering the industrial component in their attraction mix in the offered packages.

Presently, even on the mature markets, there are relatively few tour operators providing industrial tourism packages, completing other offers and almost always missing the specialized ones, as researched in a market study conducted by one of the tour operators providing such specialized services.

The most obvious industrial tourism destinations are cities and regions with a solid industrial base. For them, industrial tourism is a potential growth sector that matches with their identity: the sector offers opportunities to strengthen their distinctiveness and image, notably by building onto their already existing assets.

However, successful achievements are few and mostly in the developed countries (in Western Europe – especially Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands; as well as in the USA and Japan) where a culture of leadership and collaboration between the different stakeholders at the community’s governance level already exists. There is a positive trend and some remarkable achievements in Central Europe (Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland), China and India too.

Also, attention is being paid worldwide to reconvert economically collapsed mono industrial areas (especially mining and metallurgic ones) through industrial tourism: Krivoi Rog, Reșița and Petroșani ).

Important conditions for evaluating a destination’s industrial tourism potential are:

the quality of the location (local infrastructure, services, environment, other attractions, etc.);
the accessibility of the attractions (the ease of reaching, the in situ visitor services, facilities or at least free access to and information about heritage objectives; visitors centers or at least the possibility of scheduling individual guided tours at relevant companies; qualified staff);
the availability of information (public – private marketing cooperation).

Particularities of the Demand
the largest majority of industrial tourists are from mature outgoing markets (Germany, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Japan);
well travelled tourists, already saturated by the classic attractions (museums, churches) or second time visitors, shift from pleasure travel to in depth experience and education;
increased curiosity about the manufacturing sector and industrial works from the younger generation for which, due to the new technologies and globalization, the domain is almost historic;
active, elderly or retired workers and professionals driven by nostalgia and professional curiosity;
local visitors, families with children;
a combination with other attractions (cultural, natural);
educational and business purpose (searching for work or business-to-business collaboration).

International Associations, Organizations
Being a universal cultural asset, the industrial heritage and archeology gets a serious institutional (nonprofit), academic and governmental interest worldwide in the last decades, positively impacting its touristic potential too.

The International Committee for the Conservation of the Industrial Heritage
Society for Industrial Archeology
The Association for Industrial Archaeology

Factory tour
A factory tour is an organized visit to a factory to observe products being manufactured and processes at work. Manufacturing companies offer factory tours as public relations.

Breweries and distilleries, together with manufacturers of clothes, pottery and glass, are amongst the most popular factory visits. The popularity of factory tours has declined as factories no longer represent the cutting edge of technology.

Industrial tourism guide
In some cases, one particular commodity may be closely identified to the identity of the community itself; mention Hershey, Pennsylvania and one thinks of candy, mention Churchill Falls and a close association to hydroelectric power immediately comes to light. What would Detroit and its suburbs be without their long historic association with the automobile?

There is a slight overlap with agrotourism in that many regions are closely tied to manufacture of distinctive foodstuffs. Wine tours in Niagara, the Napa Valley or France, visits to cheese makers in the Netherlands, Kentucky Bourbon Distilleries Tours in the United States all sport a distinctly regional flavor as an opportunity to see where a local product is made.

A few working industrial companies, as a promotional or public relations exercise, may operate visitors centers, conduct guided factory tours or provide opportunities to see products being manufactured.

An electric generating station may want to state its case as to the relative merits of splitting an atom or damming a mighty river. Manufacturers of handicrafts may wish to demonstrate how their products are locally hand-made. Some manufacturers of food or consumer goods operate a store on the factory site, inviting the voyager to watch cheese or candy actually being locally made before buying some to sample or take home.

Science tourism
Industrial tourism overlaps science and nuclear tourism to some degree; various museums are dedicated to the history of science and technology.


Industrial heritage and history

The history of steam power and the Industrial Revolution begins approximately where the colonial era artisanal handicraft of the pioneer villages end. The initial source of power was water to operate streamside mills; this gave way to steam and then to electricity.

Railroads were an important component of the Industrial Revolution, and heritage railways often reconstruct industrial technology of the steam era. On the other end of the time (and speed) scale, high speed rail has nothing museum-like to it but can also make the journey the destination. In some towns, a former mine site may be open for guided tours. Some former industrial sites are now museums.

A few locations have (or had) entire company towns built around a single industry or manufacturer. Some of these became ghost towns after the mine or factory closed.

Classic motorcars are a common theme for museums, along with rail travel and other transport infrastructure. Trains that used to carry kings and empresses have a particularly high chance of having been preserved and they are often centerpieces of their respective museums. Route 66 in particular is closely intertwined with nostalgia for the automotive manufacturers of yesteryear.

Factory tours

The town of 1 Toyota in Japan is closely associated with the motorcar manufacturer; there is a Toyota Automobile Museum and an art museum.
The world heritage listed Tomioka silk mill, Japan’s first modern silk production factory, has now been turned into a museum. It’s also a chance to try operating a historical silk-reeling machine yourself.

At the world heritage listed Verla groundwood and board mill, currently a museum, you can learn about 19th and early 20th century paper production.

The 2 Ruhr has been the biggest heavy industries region in Continental Europe since the 19th century. There are dozens of disused cokeries, steel mills and other plants converted into museums, venues or parks along the Industrial Heritage Trail. Essen’s Zollverein coal pit and cokery complex is a World Heritage site.
The Fagus Factory in Alfeld (Leine) that has produced shoelasts since the 1910s (it is still operational) is one of the first works of modernist architecture in the world and was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2011.
Friedrichshafen on Lake Constance, city associated with the development of zeppelin airships, has the Zeppelin Museum of technology and art and the Dornier Aviation and Aerospace Museum
Herzogenaurach would be a perfectly unremarkable small town in Franconia like many others – if it hadn’t been for brothers Adi and Rudolf Dassler who founded two of the biggest sports companies in the world: Adidas and Puma. Production has long since moved elsewhere, but both companies have several stores.
Ludwigshafen, Visitor Center of BASF, the world’s largest chemical producer
The Deutsches Museum in Munich is a museum of very close to everything science and technology with its own rather interesting century-long history. Highlights include experiments with high voltage or a life-size V2 rocket on display.
The BMW Welt and BMW Museum is in Munich, as well.
1 Sugar factory Oldisleben, Esperstedter Straße 9 (Oldisleben, Thuringia). tours (roughly 2.5 hours) upon request in the summer season hourly tours starting at 10 AM on the second Sunday in September. One of the oldest and longest serving sugar factories in Europe if not the world, this factory was shut down in 1990 upon the collapse of the GDR and after the last harvest had been converted to sugar. The factory still boasts original steam engines that had been in use for over a century and was in many ways a “working museum” even during its last decades of work. The factory was declared a monument in 1989 and preserved as a museum upon being shut down. Each tour begins with a twenty minute documentary movie on the last harvest of 1990. de:Zuckerfabrik_Oldisleben on Wikipedia (Q27479402) on Wikidata (updated Oct 2016 | edit)
Stuttgart, centre of automotive industry, with the Mercedes-Benz Museum and Porsche Museum
Autostadt Wolfsburg, extensive museum and theme park of Germany’s biggest automotive producer Volkswagen.

Mining industry (“Gornozavodskaya”) “civilization”. In the 18—19th centuries, successful surveys of various natural resources gave birth to a new Ural “civilization”, now used to be called “mining civilization” (“Gornozavodskaya”). Ethnographer and literature theorist Prof. Bogoslovsky proved its existence. From the early 18th to the middle of 19th century, 260 industrial cities have been built in the Urals, i.e. more than half of the cities built in the rest of Russia within the same period. These cities had a distinct purpose and specific style of artistic design. In the first quarter of the 19th century, industrial cities grew big enough to have ensemble architecture, a governorate (regional) architect, and architects of mining factories and areas. A significant part of the Ural culture, these cities are essential from the viewpoint of global science, technology and art. In the 18th century, industrial cities made the Urals not only the area of largest industrial construction, but also the world’s largest metallurgy center.
Country of Towns. As early as 3,600—3,800 years ago, the South Urals were home of a number of middle Bronze Age (~2,000 BC) fortified settlements of the Sintashta culture, found in the 1970s and 1980s. It was named a proto-city civilization, Russia’s oldest Country of Cities. Its citizens knew metal production technology and could easily process granite, quartz and other rather hard rocks.

North America
Chrysler in Auburn Hills used to operate a museum, which is now only open during specific annual events; Ford in Dearborn also devotes a museum to Michigan USA car culture. Oshawa, Ontario is home to a Canadian Automotive Museum and is closely tied to General Motors.
The Cape Breton Miners’ Museum in Nova Scotia offers mine tours, as does the former coal mine in Springhill.
Davis (Oklahoma) offers a chance to see the manufacturing of Bedré Fine Chocolate, offering a free tour.
In St. Stephen, New Brunswick, candy maker Ganong does not offer a modern factory tour, but their old factory is The Chocolate Museum with a guided tour and a chocolatier in a studio making gourmet hand-dipped chocolates.

South America
Fray Bentos, Uruguay, is home to the former Liebig’s Extract of Meat Company, formerly a major producer of meat products that were exported around the world. Production has resumed on a smaller scale but the huge, nowadays world heritage listed facilities together with the museum, are more of an attraction.

Source from Wikipedia