Cultural tourism is often argued to be one of the most important and rapidly growing areas of global tourism. In the same way that beach tourism has spread to new destinations around the world, so an increasing number of countries and regions are trying to utilise their cultural resources to attract the relatively high spend cultural visitor.
The popularity of cultural tourism as a development option is due to a wide range of factors, related to both the demand for, and supply of, cultural tourism (Richards, 2001). These include:
Increased interest in culture
Rising levels of cultural capital
Aging populations in the developed world
Postmodern consumption styles (cultural omnivorousness, short breaks)
Employment creation and income generation
Cultural tourism is seen as a growth market and "good" form of tourism
An increasing supply of cultural attractions
Growing problems of funding culture
Increased role for intangible culture, image and atmosphere
For those destinations which do not have an existing reputation for cultural tourism or global cultural icons to attract cultural visitors, there is a need to develop new products and attractions which will catch the attention of the global culture vultures. The papers in this volume centre on the challenges facing some relatively new cultural tourism destinations in different parts of the world. The case studies presented here reflect some of the initial shifts taking place in the cultural tourism landscape as a result of growing global competition in the cultural tourism market and the desire for different localities to distinguish themselves (Richards and Wilson, 2006). In a range of different environments, tourism managers are also coming to terms with the need to develop new experiences for visitors in order to underpin the economic benefits of cultural tourism.
In Chapter 2, Marin Bachvarov and Robert Wilus look at the rapidly developing cultural tourism landscape of Central and Eastern Europe. The problems of cultural tourism development in the region lie not in the supply of cultural attractions, of which there is a profusion, but in the articulation between cultural attractions and the tourist market. The region is seen by tourists as having authentic heritage which in theory should be in high demand, but the main weaknesses lie in promotion, packaging, management and human resources.
This is a theme taken one step further by Jonathan Edwards in Chapter 3, where he examines the development of cultural tourism in the Central Asian republic of Turkmenistan. Not only does Turkmenistan possess a rich historic heritage, but it also has an interesting, if somewhat eccentric modern heritage of "Stalin's Disneyland" in the capital Ashgabat. The country has potential to develop a range of cultural tourism products, particularly linked to its location on the Silk Road, but again there is a lack of marketing expertise and human resources to develop the product.
In Chapter 4, Abdulhamid Mohammed Sheriff examines the role of intangible heritage in the development of the Argungu Fishing and Cultural Festival in Nigeria. Surveying the opinions of both residents and visitors, he shows that there are a number of issues involved in the development of the festival as a tourist spectacle. These include a feeling that the local population has not been consulted about development options, and that the expected economic benefits had not materialised. This underlines the importance of community-based planning of such cultural tourism developments.
In Chapter 5 Tristan Masters, Roslyn Russell and Robert Brooks provide a study of the SheppARTon festival in rural Victoria in Australia. Using visitor surveys, they demonstrate that even relatively small community-based festivals can generate significant economic impacts through cultural tourism.
These papers were all presented at the ATLAS conference on Tourism, Creativity and Development held in Barcelona in November 2005 (other papers from the conference have been published in companion volumes by ATLAS, as well as Richards and Wilson, forthcoming). This conference was designed to explore the interfaces between tourism, development and creativity, particularly in the context of potential collaboration between the creative and tourism sectors.
Some 116 delegates from 24 countries gathered at the University of Barcelona to listen to an interesting set of keynote presentations, over 60 workshop sessions and round-table debate. The many and varied workshop presentations provided a wide array of different approaches to tourism and creativity, ranging from the creative marketing of tourism, to the creative re-packaging of cultural tourism to the development of "creative tourism".