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Cultural tourism in Egypt in the 19th century.
Cultural tourism in Egypt in the 19th century.
Athens, the first European Capital of Culture in 1985, one of the top European destinations for cultural tourists.
Athens, the first European Capital of Culture in 1985, one of the top European destinations for cultural tourists.
Tourists in the Yu Garden in (Shanghai), ancient culture between modern urban architecture.
Tourists in the Yu Garden in (Shanghai), ancient culture between modern urban architecture.
Cultural tourism is also the exploration of coffee house culture, including the literary figures who have been there such as James Joyce - Caffè San Marco in Trieste.
Cultural tourism is also the exploration of coffee house culture, including the literary figures who have been there such as James Joyce - Caffè San Marco in Trieste.
Tourists at Hearst Castle, California cultural tourism.
Tourists at Hearst Castle, California cultural tourism.
Tourists taking pictures at the khmer Pre Rup temple ruins, an example of cultural tourism.
Tourists taking pictures at the khmer Pre Rup temple ruins, an example of cultural tourism.

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.[1]


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.[2]

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.[3][4][5]

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.[6] 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'.[7] These cultural needs can include the solidification of one's own cultural identity, by observing the exotic "others".[citation needed]Nowadays, cultural tourism has recently shift in the nature of demand with a growing desire for cultural "experiences" in particular. Additionally, cultural and heritage tourism experiences appear to be a potentially key component of memorable tourism experiences.[8]


Tourists at the cultural historical Old Town of Porvoo
Tourists at the cultural historical Old Town of Porvoo

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.[9] In light of this, many cultural districts add vistor services to key cultural areas to bolster tourist activity.[10][11] 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.[12]

Key principles

Destination planning

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.

Management issues

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.[citation needed]

Destination planning resources

Planning guides

Culture – the heart of development policy

It is important that the destination planner take into account the diverse definition of culture as the term is subjective.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed] 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).

Local community, tourists, the destination and sustainable tourism

While satisfying tourists' interests and demands may be a top priority, it is also imperative to ruminate the subsystems of the destination's (residents).[citation needed] 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.

Research on tourism

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.[13]

Sources of data

The core of a planner’s job is to design an appropriate planning process and facilitate community decision.[citation needed] 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:

  1. Key Informant Interviews
  2. Libraries, Internet, and Survey Research
  3. Census and Statistical Analysis
  4. Spatial Analysis with Geographical Information System (GIS) and Global Positioning System (GPS) technologies

Key institutions

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.[citation needed] asd

Creative Tourism

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).[14] Creative Tourism involves active participation from tourists in cultural experiences specific to each holiday destination.

This type of tourism suits perfectly the actual tourism and travel trends: a more ecological friendly tourism, more responsible but also in line with traditions. This type of tourism is opposed to mass tourism and allows the destinations to diversify and offer innovative activities different from other destinations. (Richards and Marques, 2012).[15])

Similarly, UNESCO launched in 2004 a program entitled “Creative Cities Network”.[16] This network aims to highlight cities around the world that are putting creativity at the heart of their sustainable urban development plan. Creative cities are organized into seven categories representing seven different creative fields: crafts and folk arts, digital arts, film, design, gastronomy, literature, and music. As of January 2020, the network has 246 members across all categories. In order to promote the development of this new type of tourism, a non-profit organization was created in Barcelona in 2010: Creative Tourism Network.[17] Its missions involve, among others: the promotion of creative tourism, the creation of a network of “Creativefriendly” cities but also awards celebration, The Creative Tourism Awards.

See also


  1. ^ Definition by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) adopted during the 22nd Session of the General Assembly held in Chengdu, China (11–16 September 2017).
  2. ^ CBI Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Netherlands) "What are the opportunities for cultural tourism from Europe?", 10 October 2018.
  3. ^ Burkhard Schnebel, Felix Girke, Eva-Maria Knoll: Kultur all inclusive. Identität, Tradition und Kulturerbe im Zeitalter des Massentourismus. (2013); Christoph Hennig: Reiselust. (1999), p 102–149.
  4. ^ Geoff Whitmore "5 Destinations Suffering From Overtourism (And Where To Go Instead)" In: Forbes, 19.11.2019.
  5. ^ Universitat Pompeu Fabra - Barcelona "What most attracts us to a tourist destination? Attractions, culture and gastronomy" April 8, 2019.
  6. ^ OECD (2009) The Impact of Culture on Tourism. OECD, Paris
  7. ^ Richards, G. (1996) Cultural Tourism in Europe. CABI, Wallingford. Available to download from
  8. ^ Seyfi, Siamak; Hall, C. Michael; Rasoolimanesh, S. Mostafa (2020-05-03). "Exploring memorable cultural tourism experiences". Journal of Heritage Tourism. 15 (3): 341–357. doi:10.1080/1743873X.2019.1639717. ISSN 1743-873X. S2CID 199156052.
  9. ^ Borowiecki, K.J. and C. Castiglione (2014). Cultural participation and tourism flows: An empirical investigation of Italian provinces. Tourism Economics, 20(2): 241-62.
  10. ^ Ketz, David. "Building a Cultural Heritage Tourism Program". Heritage Sites for Dialogue.
  11. ^ "Cultural Tourism: Attracting Visitors and Their Spending". Americans for the Arts. 2019-05-15. Retrieved 2021-11-10.
  12. ^ Demonja, Damir. "Cultural Tourism in Croatia after the Implementation of the Strategy of Development of Cultural Tourism" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-09-24. Retrieved 2014-12-16.
  13. ^ Chalmers, William D. (2011). On the Origin of the Species Homo Touristicus: The Evolution of Travel from Greek Spas to Space Tourism. iUniverse. p. 291. ISBN 9781450289276.
  14. ^ Greg Richards et Crispin Raymond, « Creative Tourism », ATLAS News 23, janvier 2000
  15. ^ Greg Richards and Lenia Marques, "Exploring Creative Tourism: Editors Introduction", Journal of Tourism Consumption and Practice Volume 4 No.2, 2012,
  16. ^ "Creative Cities | Creative Cities Network".
  17. ^

Further reading