Cultural tourism is a type of tourism activity in which the visitor’s essential motivation is to learn, discover, experience and consume the tangible and intangible cultural attractions/products in a tourism destination. These attractions/products relate to a set of distinctive material, intellectual, spiritual and emotional features of a society that encompasses arts and architecture, historical and cultural heritage, culinary heritage, literature, music, creative industries and the living cultures with their lifestyles, value systems, beliefs and traditions.
Cultural tourism experiences include architectural and archaeological treasures, culinary activities, festivals or events, historic or heritage, sites, monuments and landmarks, museums and exhibitions, national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, religious venues, temples and churches. It includes tourism in urban areas, particularly historic or large cities and their cultural facilities such as theatres.
Cultural tourism is important for many reasons. On the one hand, it gives the local population the opportunity to benefit financially from their cultural heritage and thus to appreciate it and thus to preserve it and, on the other hand, it gives the visitor the opportunity to broaden his own personal horizons. Cultural tourism can therefore help to strengthen identities, improve intercultural understanding and preserve the heritage and culture of an area. However, like any form of tourism, cultural tourism also has negative sides. There may be negative effects on local residents, such as making the local economy unstable, increasing the cost of living for local residents, increasing pollution or creating environmental problems. The local economy can also be destabilized due to the rapid change in population size. The local population also comes into contact with new ways of life that can disrupt their social fabric.
This form of tourism is also becoming generally more popular throughout the world, and a recent OECD report has highlighted the role that cultural tourism can play in regional development in different world regions. Cultural tourism has been also defined as 'the movement of persons to cultural attractions away from their normal place of residence, with the intention to gather new information and experiences to satisfy their cultural needs'. These cultural needs can include the solidification of one's own cultural identity, by observing the exotic "others".
One type of cultural tourism destination is living cultural areas. Visiting any culture other than one's own such as traveling to a foreign country. Other destinations include historical sites, modern urban districts, "ethnic pockets" of town, fairs/festivals, theme parks, and natural ecosystems. It has been shown that cultural attractions and events are particularly strong magnets for tourism. The term cultural tourism is used for journeys that include visits to cultural resources, regardless of whether it is tangible or intangible cultural resources, and regardless of the primary motivation. In order to understand properly the concept of cultural tourism, it is necessary to know the definitions of a number terms such as, for example, culture, tourism, cultural economy, cultural and tourism potentials, cultural and tourist offer, and others.
As the issue of globalization takes place in this modern time, the challenge of preserving the few remaining cultural communities around the world is becoming hard. In a tribal-based community, reaching economic advancement with minimal negative impacts is an essential objective to any destination planner. Since they are using the culture of the region as the main attraction, sustainable destination development of the area is vital for them to prevent the negative impacts (i.e., destroying the authentic identity of the tribal community) due to tourism.
Certainly, the principle of "one size fits all” doesn't apply to destination planning. The needs, expectations, and anticipated benefits from tourism vary the money is good there. This is clearly exemplified as local communities living in regions with tourism potential (destinations) develop a vision for what kind of tourism they want to facilitate, depending on issues and concerns they want to be settled or satisfied.
It is important that the destination planner take into account the diverse definition of culture as the term is subjective. Satisfying tourists' interests such as landscapes, seascapes, art, nature, traditions, ways of life and other products associated to them -which may be categorized cultural in the broadest sense of the word, is a prime consideration as it marks the initial phase of the development of a cultural destination.
The quality of service and destination, which does not solely depend on the cultural heritage but more importantly to the cultural environment, can further be developed by setting controls and policies which shall govern the community and its stakeholders. It is therefore safe to say that the planner should be on the ball with the varying meaning of culture itself as this fuels the formulation of development policies that shall entail efficient planning and monitored growth (e.g. strict policy on the protection and preservation of the community).
While satisfying tourists' interests and demands may be a top priority, it is also imperative to ruminate the subsystems of the destination's (residents). Development pressures should be anticipated and set to their minimum level so as to conserve the area's resources and prevent a saturation of the destination as to not abuse the product and the residents correspondingly. The plan should incorporate the locals to its gain by training and employing them and in the process encourage them to participate to the travel business. Travellers should be not only aware about the destination but also concern on how to help it sustain its character while broadening their travelling experience.
International tourism changes the world. The Centre for Tourism and Cultural Change (CTCC) is leading internationally in approaching Tourism for critical research relating to the relationships between tourism, tourists and culture.
The core of a planner’s job is to design an appropriate planning process and facilitate community decision. Ample information which is a crucial requirement is contributed through various technical researches and analyzes. Here are some of the helpful tools commonly used by planners to aid them:
Participating structures are primarily led by the government’s local authorities and the official tourism board or council, with the involvement of various NGOs, community and indigenous representatives, development organizations, and the academe of other countries. asd
Creative Tourism is a new type of tourism, recently theorized and defined by Greg Richards and Crispin Raymond in 2000. They defined creative tourism as: “Tourism which offers visitors the opportunity to develop their creative potential through active participation in courses and learning experiences, which are characteristic of the holiday destination where they are taken." (Richards, Greg et Raymond, Crispin, 2000). Creative Tourism involves an active participation from tourists in cultural experiences specific to each holiday destination.