HERITAGE and culture is everywhere but travel marketing firm MyTravelResearch.com is throwing the spotlight on importance of developing heritage products that will net dedicated history buffs and incidental heritage tourists alike.
In a travel opinion piece, co-founder Carolyn Childs explains that while visiting Starbucks or riding the metro can be considered culture, heritage and culture tourism is “when the trigger for the trip is to visit a place to understand aspects of its history, people, buildings, food, music and customs – its culture”.
These are the dedicated heritage and culture tourists, whom research has shown spend about 10 per cent more than general leisure tourists. The more experienced and educated ones in this demographic can blow up to 36 per cent more in travel expenditure than regular tourists, said Childs.
UNWTO data reports that heritage and culture contribute roughly US$327 billion every year in Asia-Pacific and supports the livelihoods of up to 70 million people, indicating the importance of heritage to tourism here.
As MyTravelResearch says: “Your culture is your brand.”
So how can a destination attract heritage and culture tourists?
Childs advises: “Work with your community to check suitability. Create an inventory of experiences. Ask yourself, is it feasible? The things you have to get right are: agreed objectives, financial planning, proximity to markets, quality and authenticity of products and experiences, interpretation and story telling.
“In short, plan it thoroughly, know your market, be distinctive, go for quality, tell stories, package and theme them, and then measure your progress.”
Childs’ full blog post, How Culture & Heritage Tourism Boosts More Than A Visitor Economy, identifies the economic, social and environmental benefits of heritage tourism.