Cultural tourism

From CEOpedia | Management online

Cultural tourism is very complex concept and one of the most popular form of tourism. It concerns all visitors travelling to experience culture. As culture contains tangible and intangible elements - cultural tourism is focused on experience all of them by travelling to chosen locations. One of the most popular definition of cultural tourism is travelling from permanent place of stay to cultural attractions to gain knowledge, experience and to satisfy their wants.

This type of tourism is strongly connected with urban tourism as many heritage sites, events, folklore and beliefs emerged in the past and present within the cities. The growth of visiting cultural sites is an effect of culturisation of society and emerging trends to experience places not only visit and see. People seek something new, unusual for them and tourism allows them to obtain knowledge about world outside their homes.

WTO provides other definition in which cultural tourism is any movements of people for including performing arts, cultural tours, travel to cultural events, visiting sites, monuments, travel to study nature, folklore or art or pilgrimages.

Fig. 1. Inside Natural History Museum at London

Main activities of cultural tourism

Activities counted as part of cultural tourism:

  • attending cultural events,
  • visiting museums, art galleries, archaeological sites,
  • visiting historical locations,
  • visiting cities and places connected with lives of famous artists,
  • taking part in different workshops connected with local culture,

Sources of cultural tourism growth

Role of cultural tourism

Cultural tourism is nowadays viewed as important factor for tourism growth. Many tourism destinations focus on create cultural offer that will attract new type of tourists. Cultural tourism allows people to differ their own culture from others and build more tolerance for them.

See also::

Examples of Cultural tourism

  • History and Heritage Tourism: History and Heritage Tourism is when one visits a place to discover its history, heritage, culture, and traditions. It is a form of tourism wherein tourists visit historical sites, monuments, museums, and/or other places of interest to learn about a region’s past. A good example of this is a visit to the Great Wall of China, which is one of the oldest and largest historical structures in the world.
  • Archeological Tourism: Archeological Tourism is when people visit places to explore the ruins of ancient civilizations and discover the history of these sites. This could include visits to ancient sites such as the Acropolis in Greece or the ruins of Pompeii in Italy.
  • Food and Wine Tourism: Food and Wine Tourism is when people travel to different places to sample the local cuisine and drinks. This could involve visits to wineries, breweries, and local restaurants to experience the flavors of a particular region. A great example of this is a visit to the Napa Valley in California which is renowned for its wines and culinary offerings.
  • Religious Tourism: Religious Tourism is when people travel to different places to experience the spiritual and cultural aspects of a religion. This could include visits to places of worship, religious festivals, and pilgrimages. A good example of this is the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, which is one of the five pillars of Islam.
  • Arts and Cultural Tourism: Arts and Cultural Tourism is when people visit places to experience the local art, music, and culture of a region. This could include visits to art galleries, museums, music festivals, and performing arts venues. A great example of this is a visit to the Louvre Museum in Paris, which houses some of the world’s most famous works of art.

Advantages of Cultural tourism

Cultural tourism offers various advantages for both tourists and the visited locations. Below is the list of the most important ones:

  • It allows travelers to learn about the new cultures, customs and traditions of the places they visit, providing a unique experience. This way they can deepen their understanding of the culture and the people they meet, as well as understand their lifestyles and beliefs better.
  • It helps to preserve and promote culture, traditions and heritage of certain places. Cultural tourism helps to expose the culture of a certain place to the world, which encourages people to visit and appreciate the culture of different places.
  • It helps to bring in new sources of income to the local communities and businesses. Through cultural tourism, local communities are able to earn additional income from the tourists, which can help to develop the local economy.
  • It helps to build bridges between different cultures, by allowing people to learn about and understand each other better. Cultural tourism helps to create a more accepting and tolerant society, as it encourages people to appreciate different cultures.

Limitations of Cultural tourism

Cultural tourism is a popular form of tourism but it has some limitations:

  • The main limitation is that it can be quite expensive. Cultural attractions can be costly to access, and this can limit the number of people who are able to visit them.
  • Cultural tourism can also be limited by the amount of time people have to travel. People may not have enough time to visit all of the attractions they want to see.
  • Cultural tourism can also be limited by the resources available to visitors. Not everyone is able to access the same resources, such as transport, information and accommodation, which can limit the number of people who can participate in cultural tourism.
  • Cultural tourism can also be limited by the availability of cultural attractions. Some cultural attractions may be located in remote areas, or may be limited in terms of access. This can limit the number of people who are able to visit them.
  • Cultural tourism can also be limited by language barriers. Not everyone is able to understand the language of the cultural attractions they are visiting, which can limit their understanding of the cultural experience.
  • Lastly, cultural tourism can also be limited by cultural differences. People may not be familiar with the customs and traditions of other cultures, which can limit their ability to fully appreciate the cultural experience.

Other approaches related to Cultural tourism

Cultural tourism involves more than just visiting cultural attractions. It is a complex concept that encompasses a variety of approaches:

  • Heritage tourism - involves travelling to historical and cultural sites to learn about a certain culture, history or tradition.
  • Adventure tourism - involves travelling to exotic and remote locations to experience and explore cultural activities, usually with a focus on outdoor activities such as trekking, rafting, and wildlife watching.
  • Ecotourism - involves travelling to natural locations, usually with a focus on environmental conservation and sustainability.
  • Food tourism - involves travelling to experience different regional cuisines and to learn about different cultures through food.
  • Arts and performance tourism - involves travelling to experience various forms of art and performance, such as music, theatre, and dance.

In summary, cultural tourism is a complex concept that involves travelling to experience a variety of cultural activities. It includes heritage tourism, adventure tourism, ecotourism, food tourism, and arts and performance tourism.

Cultural tourismrecommended articles
Ethnic tourismReligious tourismSpecialty tourismActivity centerUrban tourismAlternative tourismPrecariatHomogenization of cultureEducational innovations


  • McKercher, B., Cros, H. D., & McKercher, R. B. (2002). Cultural tourism: the partnership between tourism and cultural heritage management. Haworth Hospitality Press.
  • Richards, G. (1996). Production and consumption of European cultural tourism. Annals of tourism research, 23(2), 261-283.
  • Richards, G. (Ed.). (1996). Cultural tourism in Europe. Greg Richards.
  • Stebbins, R. A. (1996). Cultural tourism as serious leisure. Annals of tourism research, 23(4), 948-950.
  • World Tourism Organization. The Role of Recreation Management in the Development of Active Holidays and Special Interest Tourism and the Consequent Enrichment of the Holiday Experience, Madrid 1985.

Author: Emilia Maciejczyk