Cultural Assets & Heritage Tourism

Topic Editor: Lucy Matthews

Heritage, Architecture, Cultures, Gastronomy These links provide resources for enhancing the interaction between tourism and the human story of the locale. Scroll down to see Pertinent Findings: The Case for Heritage Tourism.

Cultural tourism is: “A type of tourism activity in which the visitor’s essential motivation is to learn, discover, experience and consume the tangible and intangible cultural attractions/products in a tourism destination. These attractions/products relate to a set of distinctive material, intellectual, spiritual and emotional features of a society that encompasses arts and architecture, historical and cultural heritage, culinary heritage, literature, music, creative industries and the living cultures with their lifestyles, value systems, beliefs and traditions.” UNWTO

Pertinent Blog Posts

Organizational Resources

Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (US) Independent federal agency that recommends preservation policy for the President and Congress and provides information on how to work with Section 106 and on Training and Education.

African World Heritage Fund (Africa) The inter-governmental AWHF provides grants to support UNESCO World Heritage sites and candidate sites in Africa to protect cultural and natural heritage. 

AIA-ATTA Guide to Best Practices for Archaeological Tourism (US-Global) These useful guides from the Archaeological Institute of America and Adventure Travel Trade Association come in versions for site managers and for tourists.

Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation (US-Global) Learn about opportunities for culturally related funding for developing countries through the US Department of State. 

Europa Nostra (Europe) “The European Voice of Civil Society committed to Cultural Heritage” engages in knowledge-sharing, site advocacy, and procedures for the European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards.

European Capitals of Culture (Europe) This EU program helps promote tourism to destinations throughout Europe.

European Heritage Alliance 3.3 (Europe) Follow links to EU and Alliance member  documents related to heritage policies and promotion.

Global Sustainable Tourism Council (Global) Their Destination Criteria includes a section on cultural sustainability.

International Council on Monuments and Sites (Global) This nongovernmental organization for conservation of heritage collects and disseminates expert information on conservation principles, techniques, and policies. The ICOMOS International Scientific Committees page lists a host of specialty committees that each provide additional information.

National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers (US) Find your US State HPO who can help protect your site.

National Park Service (US) Find out how to take local preservation action and how your community can achieve National Heritage Area designation.

National Trust for Historic Preservation (US) This D.C.-based nonprofit offers various services. Hotels occupying buildings more than 50 years old can apply for membership in the marketing program Historic Hotels of America, which publishes a directory and provides a central reservation service. The members-only forum includes networking events, conference and hotel discounts, and announcements about grants, awards, and other opportunities. Non-members can access content such as Forum Connect, a job board, and Heritage Tourism Stories.

National Trust for Historic Preservation Library, University of Maryland (US) This extensive collection of American preservation resources includes books, maps, journals, postcards, architectural records, and more.

Preservation Directory (US & Canada) Preservation Directory provides listings of conferences, grants, articles, organizations, historic real estate and more, along with heritage tourism-specific resources such as museums & historic structures, historic lodging, and historic tours.

Preservation50 (US) This host site for the 2016 celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act has resources including K-12 learning materials, tool kits, and information about the many initiatives undertaken as part of the celebrations.

UNESCO World Heritage and Sustainable Tourism Programme (Global) Facilitates collaboration between tourism and heritage stakeholders for responsible tourism at heritage sites. The page has links to useful toolkits and guides.

UNESCO World Heritage List (Global/Regional) Check out the comprehensive list of World Heritage Sites. Find your regional WH Centre: Africa, Asia & Pacific, Europe & North America, Latin America and the Caribbean.

UNWTO Tourism and Culture (Global) Find links to relevant UNWTO declarations, conferences and research.

World Monuments Fund (Global) Search for case studies similar to your project. The biennial World Monuments Watch highlights heritage sites in danger.

Educational Opportunities

Professional Certificate in Cultural Heritage Tourism (US) This program from The George Washington University’s School of Business focuses on indigenous cultural tourism.

Undergraduate Certificate, Cultural Heritage Tourism (US-Global) This online certificate program from Indiana University readies students for careers in heritage tourism and related fields, and includes an internship experience.

University of Glasgow (UK) has a few relevant postgraduate degrees, including MSc Tourism, Heritage & Development, MSc Tourism Development & Culture, and MSc Tourism, Heritage & Sustainability.


Pertinent Findings: The Case for Heritage Tourism

Cultural Heritage Counts for Europe The collaborative CHCFE report led by Europa Nostra shows the benefits of heritage for a variety of key European sectors.

The Case for Responsible Travel: Trends & Statistics 2017 Section 4 of this CREST report discusses Cultural Values, Diversity, and Heritage, including the business case.

The Economic & Fiscal Impacts of Heritage Tourism in New Jersey This 2013 report finds that heritage tourism is beneficial to the economy of the state of New Jersey.

The Economic Impact of National Heritage Areas These US National Park Service  reports from 2013 onwards illustrate the positive economic impacts of Heritage Areas.


Do you have research or links to add to this list? Let us know! Comment or contact us.

Editor for this page: Lucy Matthews.

About Lucy Matthews

Lucy has MA's from King's College London in Tourism, Environment & Development and Terrorism, Security & Society, and has managed the World Travel & Tourism Council's Tourism for Tomorrow Awards.

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