Creative Tourism and Cultural Heritage: A New Perspective

Creative Tourism and Cultural Heritage: A New Perspective

Enrico Bonetti, Michele Simoni, Raffaele Cercola
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5007-7.ch018
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This chapter analyses how cultural heritage destinations should evolve to keep pace with changes in the demand for cultural tourism. The empirical evidence shows that the most important heritage destinations suffer from a misalignment of their value propositions with respect to the new needs of cultural tourists. These types of gaps can be filled only by understanding the features and evolution of these needs and by identifying sustainable strategic paths to enrich the typical offering of these heritage destinations. This chapter proposes a theoretical framework that combines the most relevant trends in cultural tourism from a demand and an offering perspective. The Pompeii case is subsequently analyzed through the lens of the proposed theoretical framework.
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1. Cultural Tourism From The Demand Perspective

Because, both in literature and in practice, the term “cultural tourism” does not have a unique meaning, it is worth clarifying the sense in which it is meant here.

In the following paragraph then, first of all, the various possible definitions of cultural tourism are examined and, subsequently, one of these definitions is assumed as a reference point for the analysis conducted in the remainder of the chapter.

What is “cultural tourism?” is an apparently simple question; however, it is not easy to answer. In fact, there are many definitions of both “cultural tourism” and “cultural tourists” that have been adopted in the context of several studies and research concerning this issue. The question, of course, is not just semantic, and it is undoubtedly more complex because the lack of a clear definition makes it difficult to understand the specific object of the different analyses and to compare the different data on cultural tourism. For this reason, it is first necessary to choose the definition of cultural tourism that is best suited to the purposes of the present analysis.

The definitions of cultural tourism can be classified into four types of definitions: definitions that emphasize the destination’s resources, definitions that emphasize the motivational aspects of the tourists, definitions that focus on the experiential or aspirational dimensions and definitions that are instrumental to the specific purposes of studies. Each of these types of definition adopts a different perspective in addressing the phenomenon, as summarized in Figure 1.

Figure 1.

The dimensions to classify the definitions of cultural tourism

Source: adapted from McKercher & Du Cros (2002)

On the vertical axis, the definitions of cultural tourism that rely on the experiential/aspirational dimensions are opposed to the definitions that are instrumental. The definitions that rely on the experiential/aspirational dimensions focus on the nature of the experience of cultural tourism in conceptual terms. In contrast, the instrumental definitions are used to identify who the cultural tourists are and to measure the size or range of the phenomenon of cultural tourism. Therefore, moving from to the top to the bottom of the vertical axis, the definitions proceed from those that are more comprehensive and strategic to those that are more operational and directly related to a specific purpose.

On the horizontal axis, at one extreme, are the definitions derived from tourism disciplines that analyze cultural tourism through the lens of the tourism system. At the other extreme are the definitions that examine the motivations that induce the touristic travel. Therefore, on this axis, the cultural and tourist offering, perceived as an aggregation of the destination’s resources, is contrasted with the demand for cultural tourism, perceived as a segment of the tourism market, which expresses its own specificities.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Cultural Tourism: The journey of people to specific destinations that offer cultural attractions, including historic sites and artistic and cultural events and shows, with the aim of acquiring new knowledge and experiences that meet the intellectual needs and individual growth of the traveler.

Siteseeing Tourist: A tourist who gives a cursory look at the archaeological site.

Spa and Health Tourism: As a result of a general trend towards wellness tourism in Europe, there has been a revival of spa destinations. As a consequence, new generations of tourists are discovering the traditional spa destinations but are requiring a greater level of comfort and richer experiences. This trend, of course, is particularly interesting because of the potential to build specific cultural itineraries that connect different destinations with spas or wellness centers. The market of wellness tourism worldwide is estimated at approximately 30 billion euro.

Active Tourism: A kind of tourism that includes activities in which the tourist has an active and participatory role in achieving a deep and engaging experience of the destination’s attractions.

Gastronomic Tourism: Recently, an increasing emphasis has also been placed on experiences and attractions related to food. Food tourism - an example of culinary tourism - has been defined as “visits to food producers, food festivals, restaurants and specific locations where the taste of food and/or experience of the specificity of typical food products are the main reasons for the trip” ( Hall & Mitchell, 2001 ). This form of tourism is further enriched by participation in cooking courses and/or visits to companies that manufacture traditional products (this is, for example, the case for wine tourism, which increasingly tends to combine tastings, training courses and visits to wineries and wine companies).

Spiritual Tourism: Spiritual journeys are one type of cultural tourism that is on the rise, as people are increasingly looking to develop their own spirituality and to discover that of others. In 2007, spiritual tourism was judged by the UNWTO as the most rapidly growing segment, although it cannot be easily framed. In fact, spiritual tourism is based on a variety of motivations, ranging from traditional religious tourism to alternative medicine to forms of deep immersion in nature.

Tourism of Cultural Volunteer Work: Volunteer tourism is another segment that has recently seen remarkable growth, often fueled by people’s desire to get in touch with different cultures. It is estimated that annually approximately 600,000 new positions for volunteers open worldwide. This segment of cultural tourism is particularly interesting because the average length of stay at the destination is extremely high. Moreover, many volunteer projects are initiatives aimed at the preservation and recovery of the historical and archaeological heritage. Significant opportunities exist, especially for the destinations that are able to match volunteer tourism with the desire of tourists to meet the local inhabitants.

Educational Tourism: The travel market aimed at learning a foreign language is a remarkable example of this type of tourism. This segment is steadily growing, especially in those destinations that can offer a language that is widely used internationally. While the current revenues of language schools are only 15 million euro, it is estimated that there is a potential market of 375 million people who want to travel to learn a language, especially if this experience is combined with other activities that are based on the local culture (ALTO, 2008).

Creative Tourism: A tourism that offers visitors the opportunity to develop their creative potential through active participation in courses and learning experiences on topics that are typical of the destination ( Richards & Wilson, 2006 ). In this context, the emphasis shifts from the tangible to the intangible culture and the fundamental experience is an exchange of knowledge and expertise between the guest and the host. This exchange creates a more authentic and locally embedded form of cultural tourism. The development of creative tourism is found in very different contexts. On the one hand, in rural areas, creativity is needed to address the lack of economic alternatives; this creativity can be observed in some areas of the UK, Scandinavia and France. On the other hand, cities are traditionally perceived as the engine of the creative economy; for example Barcelona, Paris and Rome are promoting creative tourism as an alternative to mass cultural tourism.

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