What is the difference between Cultural Tourism and Heritage Tourism?

The United National World Tourism Organization defines Cultural Tourism as “movements of persons for essentially cultural motivations such as study tours, performing arts and cultural tours, travel to festivals and other cultural events, visits to sites and monuments, travel to study nature, folklore or art, and pilgrimages.”

Heritage Tourism, as defined by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, is “traveling to experience the places, artifacts, and activities that authentically represent the stories and people of the past and present. It includes visitation to cultural, historic, and natural resources.”

Heritage tourism is often “place-based” – the resources are specific to, and significant because, of their location (for example, an author’s home, a landmark where an important event occurred, etc.) Cultural tourism is often “people-based” through engagement and learning of local traditions, but also can include a blockbuster exhibit at an art museum or a music concert at an amphitheater.

The motivation of the visitor, and what activities they engage in during their trip, distinguish their profile as a “cultural tourist” or “heritage tourist.” The agency or entity overseeing the program also may emphasize heritage tourism (preservation, historical societies, state tourism, or rural destination marketing organizations) or cultural tourism (arts, cultural organizations, state tourism, urban destination marketing organizations) to define their focus. However, research has revealed that visitors engaging in historic and cultural activities are similar in profile. This commonality in the market profile has led to a more inclusive segment of “cultural heritage tourism” or “cultural & heritage tourism.”  Hargrove International, Inc. recognizes the importance of history and culture to travel experiences and focuses on an inclusive approach to asset-based economic development with history, culture, and nature as the foundation for sustainable tourism.