The Importance of Cultural Heritage Tourism

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The Importance of Cultural Heritage Tourism

“Cultural tourism is backed by a desire to discover, learn about and enjoy the tangible and intangible cultural assets offered in a tourism destination, ranging from heritage, performing arts, handicrafts, rituals and gastronomy.” -UNESCO

Global Tourism

Global cultural tourism is forecast to increase by 15% in the coming years

Cultural tourism is one of the fastest-growing segments of the tourism industry, accounting for an estimated 40% of all tourism worldwide.

U.S Travelers

American cultural heritage travelers have an economic impact of $123.6 billion.

30% of adults state that specific arts or a cultural or heritage event influenced their choice of destination on their last trip.

Cultural Tourism Spending 

Rural arts organizations attract more outside visitors than urban arts organizations (31% vs 14%). These visitors spend money on admissions, parking, dining, etc., contributing directly to local economies.

49% of cultural travelers will pay more for lodging that has a distinctive cultural or heritage component (historic building, local art or decor, architecture, etc.)

Types of Cultural Heritage Tourism

  • Culinary tourism, food sovereignty
  • National & regional parks, eco-tourism, wildlife tourism
  • Sports, games & other athletic events
  • Museums. libraries & cultural centers
  • Annual festivals, powwows, major events
  • Historic sites & commemorations
  • Rivers, trails & conservation areas
  • Hogans, earth lodges, longhouses, clan houses
  • Agritourism
  • Performing arts & storytelling

Economic Benefits of Cultural Heritage Tourism 

  • Injects new money into the economy, boosting businesses and tax revenues
  • Creates new jobs
  • Funds new businesses, events and attractions, helping diversify the local economy
  • Supports small businesses, including artists, local guides, educators
  • Helps increase a customer base for local businesses
  • Promotes the active preservation and protection of important local resources
  • Allows tribes and indigenous communities to define and tell their own stories


The Goss Agency Inc.
Mandala Research
NEA: Rural Arts, Design & Innovation in America Study