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What is Cultural Tourism? - Basic Information

What is cultural tourism?

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, cultural tourism is “movements of persons for essentially cultural motivations such as study tours, performing arts and cultural tours, travel to festivals and other cultural events, visits to sites and monuments, travel to study nature, folklore or art, and pilgrimages.”

We expand this definition to encompass the participation of visitors in cultural activities whether those activities are the primary purpose of their travel or not.

Why should my organization take action on cultural tourism?

Cultural tourism is big business in Florida. Our state attracts more than 100 million visitors per year, and 65% of those visitors take part in at least one cultural activity. 

These visitors spend more on their trips and stay longer than other visitors.

Creating a plan to attract cultural tourism can do more than affect your bottom line, it can also help define your area as a cultural and artistic destination.

Why would a visitor come to my area?

Travelers look for an “authentic experience,” and your community has its own special attributes that set it apart from others. These features include your history, traditions, and yes, your arts and culture.

Your community has a story to tell, and finding an engaging way to tell that tale is one way to attract visitors. Tools are available for creating an inventory of community assets.  A few of them are found as links in this toolkit.

Where to begin?

That’s up to you!  Engage with other organizations and individuals in your area, or simply measure the effect visitors have on your own organization. The important thing to do is to start somewhere. You don’t even have to spend any money.

How do I approach my local Destination Marketing Organization (DMO)or Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB)?

Sometimes arts and cultural organizations may be daunted at the idea of approaching the local DMO or CVB.  Arts and cultural organizations create value for tourists by offering experiences that cannot be found elsewhere.

You have a product that your DMO can sell… and their goal is to sell your area to visitors. You may find that showing them how many visitors take advantage of your services will catch the DMO’s interest. You may find that the excellent quality of your work will excite them as much as you know it will excite tourists.  Finding your way in may be difficult, but it can be done.

Remember, bring them a quality product and show them how they can use it to their own advantage.

Another helpful step is to integrate the boards of directors of DMO/CVB’s with the boards of arts and cultural organizations.  If a member of the DMO board is interested in arts and culture, there may be an opportunity for expanding their interest by having a conversation regarding an upcoming project or event. 

In addition, if you have someone from the tourism industry on your board, they may be able to provide some useful guidance and new ideas for promoting cultural tourism in the community.

What can I measure that relates to cultural tourism?

You can always start small in measurements. Try collecting the zip codes of your patrons as a way to find out how many of them traveled to your event or activity.  Think of what you want to accomplish, and ask yourself some important questions:

            “Why do we do what we do?”

            “Why do people take advantage of my current offerings?”

            “For what reasons are we funded?”

            “What change are we trying to create in our community?”

These questions and others like them can help you decide what to measure and how to measure it.

Once you have your numbers, analyze them and look at how you can improve what you’re doing.

Once you’ve implemented a change, no matter how small, measure again to see if you’ve achieved the outcome you wanted.