Rotterdam and Porto: Cultural Capitals 2001: visitor research.

Rotterdam and Porto: Cultural Capitals 2001: visitor research.

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Greg Richards, Erik Hitters and Carlos Fernandes
Arnhem, ATLAS, 67 pp.
ISBN 90-75775-11-3

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Since 1985 26 cities have had the honour of being designated as European City/Capital of Culture. The event is becoming increasingly important for cities to celebrate their own unique cultural identity within the pluriform European Union. The designation as European Capital of Culture has become much sought-after. In the UK 14 cities are currently competing for the honour of staging the event in 2008. This interest marks the transition of the City/Capital of Culture from a low-key cultural festival into a major engine for urban redevelopment.
However, there is relatively little empirical research available into the effects of the Cultural Capital event for the city. Has it generated a substantial increase in visitors and tourists to the city? How has it effected the cultural attractiveness of the city? Has the urban economy benefited? Will the city remain a "capital of culture" in the years to come? Until now, only partial answers to such questions from scattered research in individual cities is available. In particular there has been little comparison of the different cities and events.
This need for more substantial international comparative research into the effects of the European Cultural Capitals has led to the formation of the ATLAS Cultural Capital Research Group in 2000. The aim of this group is to pool knowledge and expertise on Cultural Capitals in different countries and to conduct research on events on a transnational basis. This project is an extension of the ATLAS Cultural Tourism Research Programme, which has conducted surveys of cultural visitors worldwide since 1991.
This report provides a review of visitor research in the 2001 European Cultural Capitals Rotterdam (Netherlands) and Porto (Portugal). It looks in particular at the socio-cultural visitor profile, their expenditure and their image of the city. Almost 3000 visitors were surveyed in the two cities across a range of different types of cultural events and attractions during the year. The results allow an initial view of the economic, social and cultural impacts of the event to be constructed.
This report is the first of a planned series of studies in the Cultural Capitals of 2001 and later. It furthermore lays the groundwork for qualitative research on the long-term effects of the event that is now starting in Rotterdam and Porto. We hope this report will be of interest to all those who are, either professionally or academically, interested in the wider impacts of the European Cultural Capital programme.

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