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Community Development

Ohio State University Extension

History and Heritage Tourism

Cultural & Heritage Tourism

Cultural heritage tourism is based on the mosaic of places, traditions, art forms, celebrations and experiences that portray this nation and its people, reflecting the diversity and character of the United States. Travelers who engage in cultural tourism activities visit the following:

  • art galleries, theaters and museums
  • historic sites, communities or landmarks
  • cultural events, festivals and fairs
  • ethnic communities and neighborhoods
  • architectural and archaeological treasures

The Share Your Heritage program notes a slight distinction between cultural and heritage tourism in their publication. This organization provides a Cultural Heritage Tourism Glossary of Terms.
Source: National Assembly of State Art Agencies

Cultural, arts, historic, and heritage activities or events are quite popular among U.S. travelers today, according to the U.S. Travel Association. Most U.S. adults (81%) who took at least one trip of 50 miles or more, one way, away from home in the past year included at least one such activity or event while traveling. This equates to more than half (56%) of the U.S. adult population who indicate they included at least one cultural, arts, historic, or heritage activity or event while on a trip in the past year. This represents 118.1 million adult historic/cultural travelers.

Visiting a designated historic site and/or attending a performing arts event are among the most popular historic/cultural activities to do while traveling. Demographically, historic/cultural households are somewhat older than the average U.S. traveling household, and they are more likely to be retired. Historic/cultural travelers want to enrich their lives with new travel experiences. Most historic/cultural travelers agree that trips where they can learn something new are more memorable to them. Over half agree that they have hobbies and interests that have an influence on where they choose to travel and/or that on their trips they enjoy going to places that are popular with the local residents. When it comes to planning historic/cultural trips, historic/cultural travelers most often consult friends, relatives, or colleagues and/or look at Internet websites to gather travel information.

For further information, visit the Executive Summaries -The Historic/Cultural Traveler.

How to Develop Cultural Heritage Tourism

As part of an intensive three-year initiative funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and American Express, the National Trust for Historic Preservation developed five guiding principles for successful and sustainable cultural heritage tourism programs.

Guiding Principles
Principle One: Collaborate
Principle Two: Find the Fit Between the Community and Tourism
Principle Three: Make Sites and Programs Come Alive
Principle Four: Focus on Quality and Authenticity
Principle Five: Preserve and Protect Resources

Steps of Successful and Sustainable Cultural Heritage Tourism
Whether you are just getting started in cultural heritage tourism or working to expand or enhance an existing program, follow these four steps to ensure success:
Step One: Assess the Potential
Step Two: Plan and Organize; Make Good Use of Human and Financial Resources
Step Three: Prepare for Visitors; Protect and Manage Your Resources
Step Four: Market for Success

National Trust for Historic Preservation, Heritage Tourism

Get involved with the Ohio Tourism Division.
Check out their consumer page and links to Ohio's History and Heritage.

Resources for Industry Professionals

Heritage Ohio
Ohio Historical Society Historic Preservation Office