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Cultural Heritage Tourism

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Where can we find funding for cultural heritage tourism projects?
As you begin to look for sources of funding, start close to home. Many local libraries have information about funding resources by state and by type of project, and it is also possible to search the web to find out about other funding sources that may be available in your area. Local and state sources of funding are often easier to secure as you are not competing against as applicants across the country. Be sure to consider charitable organizations in your area (such as community foundations), businesses or corporations that might be willing to sponsor your efforts, as well as government sources such as funding from the city, county or state.

You may want to contact the cultural heritage tourism contact for your state to ask about funding resources within your state that you may not be aware of. To find out if your state has a cultural heritage tourism contact, look in the directory of statewide contacts in this section of the website.

For more information about national funding resources, look in the directory of national organizations in this section of the website. This directory includes over 40 national organizations that provide different kinds of assistance to cultural heritage tourism efforts.

Before you submit a request for funding, be sure that you have a clear sense of exactly what you are asking for and what outcomes you anticipate. Do your research to be sure you know what the potential donor is looking for. If possible, talk to the potential donor about what you are trying to do to see if that source is a good match before writing a formal proposal. When you do secure funding or other donations, don’t forget to thank your supporters.



Tourism is big business. In 2003, travel and tourism contributed $554.5 billion to the U.S. economy. Travel and tourism is the third largest retail industry in the U.S. behind automotive dealers and food stores. Travel and tourism directly employs more than 7.2 million people and creates a payroll income of $158 billion and tax revenues of $94.7 billion for federal, state and local governments. (Source:Travel Industry Association).

In addition to creating new jobs, new business and higher property values, well-managed tourism improves the quality of life and builds community pride. According to the 2003 The Historic/Cultural Traveler study by the Travel Industry Association and Smithsonian Magazine, 81% (118 million) U.S. adults who traveled in 2002 were considered cultural heritage travelers. These travelers included historical or cultural activities on almost 217 million person-trips last year, up 13 percent from 192 million in 1996.Visitors to historic sites and cultural attractions stay longer and spend more money than other kinds of tourists. Cultural and heritage visitors spend, on average, $623 per trip compared to $457 for all U.S. travelers excluding the cost of transportation. (Source: 2003 The Historic/Cultural Traveler, TIA). Perhaps the biggest benefits of cultural heritage tourism, though, are diversification of local economies and preservation of a community’s unique character.

This research section includes information about a number of cultural heritage tourism research projects in different parts of the U.S. Click on the links below to find out more about the research that others have done to demonstrate the economic impact of cultural heritage tourism in their area, or research to find out more about cultural heritage travelers.



A growing number of visitors are becoming special-interest travelers who rank the arts, heritage and/or other cultural activities as one of the top five reasons for traveling. These visitors are known as cultural tourists. Since 1998, the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA) and Partners in Tourism have collaborated on research that illuminates the scope of this demographic trend in travel. The fact sheet below summarizes key findings in the latest report by TIA and Smithsonian Magazine, The Historic/Cultural Traveler, 2003 Edition.

How many cultural tourists are there?
Nearly 118.1 million American adults say they included at least one of fifteen arts, humanities, historic or heritage activities or events while traveling in 2002. This equates to more than half of the U.S. adult population (56%). One quarter of these cultural travelers take three or more of these trips per year. In fact, historic/cultural travel volume is up 13 percent from 1996, increasing from 192.4 million person-trips to 216.8 million person-trips in 2002.

What do we mean by cultural heritage tourism?
Cultural heritage tourism is based on the mosaic of places, traditions, art forms, celebrations and experiences that portray this nation and its people, reflecting the diversity and character of the United States. Travelers who engage in cultural tourism activities visit the following:

  • art galleries, theater and museums
  • historic sites, communities or landmarks
  • cultural events, festivals and fairs
  • ethnic communities and neighborhoods
  • architectural and archaeological treasures

Thirty percent or 35.3 million adults say that a specific arts, cultural or heritage event or activity influenced their choice of destination. In fact, many travelers will extend their stay because of an arts, cultural or heritage event or activity.

Who are the cultural travelers?
Most cultural travelers want to enrich their lives with new travel experiences. This is particularly true among those aged 18-34, 75 percent of whom agreed that trips where they can learn something new are more memorable to them.

  • The demographic profile of the cultural heritage travel segment today is younger, wealthier, more educated and more technologically savvy when compared to those surveyed in 1996.
  • Generation X and Y'ers (ages 18-34), are more apt than Matures aged 55+ to agree that trips where they can learn something new are more memorable to them (75% vs. 63%).
  • Households headed by Baby Boomers (ages 35-54) are most likely (41%) to participate in these activities.

How do cultural travelers compare to all U.S. travelers?
Eighty-one percent of the 146.4 million U.S. adults who took a trip of 50 miles or more away from home in the past year can be considered cultural tourists. Given this large volume of travelers, cultural/heritage tourism generates millions of dollars for destination communities in spending on shopping, food, lodging and other expenses. This can be attributed in part to the fact that cultural/heritage trips are likely to last seven nights or longer. In a nutshell, cultural tourists compared to the average U.S. traveler

  • Spend more: $623 vs. $457
  • Are older: 49 vs. 47
  • Are more likely to be retired -- 20 percent vs. 16 percent
  • Are more likely to have a graduate degree: 21 percent vs. 19 percent
  • Use a hotel, motel or B&B -- 62 percent vs. 55 percent
  • Are more likely to spend $1,000+/-: 19 percent vs. 12 percent
  • Travel longer: 5.2 nights vs. 3.4 nights
  • Travel by air: 19 percent vs. 16 percent

Top Ten States Visited by Cultural/Historic Travelers in 2002:
1) California
2) Texas
3) New York
4) Florida
5) Pennsylvania 6) Virginia
7) Illinois
8) Tennessee
9) North Carolina
10) Georgia

Sources: Travel Industry Association of America TravelScope survey 2003; The Historic/Cultural Traveler, 2003 Edition, TIA and Smithsonian Magazine.


As of November 2003, Congress has designated 24 National Heritage Areas, which are defined as places where "natural, cultural, historic and recreational resources combine to form a cohesive, nationally distinctive landscape arising from patterns of human activity shaped by geography." These heritage areas represent a significant component in the cultural heritage tourism infrastructure. Each area creates a thematic story out of its natural, cultural and historic resources, which are managed and interpreted by the National Park Service through strategic public-private partnerships. Anecdotal evidence has always indicated these heritage areas are effective in leveraging additional resources and investment. A 2003 survey by the National Park Service Heritage Areas Program shows that heritage areas have leveraged an impressive 8.7-to-1 match. The study's findings also reveal an impressive diversity of sources, which includes federal Transportation Enhancement funding, state and local government dollars and the private sector (foundations, corporate and individuals) support.

Source: National Park Service Heritage Areas Program, 2003

Source: National Park Service Heritage Areas Program, 2003 Transportation Enhancement funds in particular have been a very flexible source of funding for cultural and heritage tourism projects. Enhancement funds not only provide support for the restoration of historic properties and scenic byways, but also for interpretive materials in the development of historic driving tours such Virginia's Civil War Trails. For more information on Transportation Enhancements and how they been used by the arts and heritage organizations see Building on the Past: Traveling to the Future, published by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the National Assembly of State Arts Agency’s Arts and Transportation: Connecting People and Culture.


Spending by Arts Audiences

The nonprofit arts, unlike most industries, leverage significant amounts of event-related spending by their audiences. Attendance at arts events generates related commerce for hotels, restaurants, parking garages, and more.

Nonprofit Arts Attendees Spend an Average of $22.87 Per Person

Non-Local Arts Attendees Spend 75 Percent More Per Person

  • When governments reduce their support for the arts, they are not cutting frills. Rather, they are undercutting an industry that is a cornerstone of tourism, economic development, and the revitalization of many downtowns. When governments increase their support for the arts, they are generating tax revenues, jobs, and a creativity-based economy.
  • Data collected from 40,000 attendees at a range of arts events reveal an average spending of $22.87 per person, not including the price of admission. This spending generates an estimated $80.8 billion of valuable revenue annually for local merchants and their communities.
  • The findings also reveal that non-local attendees spend nearly twice as much as local attendees ($38.05 compared to $21.75), demonstrating that a community that attracts cultural tourists stands to harness significant economic rewards.

Source: Americans for the Arts. 2002.


Economic Impact of the Arts

When community leaders fund the arts, they not only enhance our quality of life, but also invest in our economic well-being.

Economic Impact of the Nonprofit Arts Industry

Total Economic Activity $134 Billion
Total Spending by Nonprofit Arts Organizations $53.2 Billion
Total Spending by Nonprofit Arts Audiences $80.8 Billion

Total Full-Time Equivalent Jobs Supported 4.85 Million

Total Tax Revenue Generated $24.4 Billion
Federal Income Tax Revenue $10.5 Billion
State Government Revenue $7.3 Billion
Local Government Revenue $6.6 Billion

Total Household Income Generated $89.4 Billion

  • Arts organizations are responsible businesses, employers, and consumers. Spending by nonprofit arts organizations—only a fraction of the total arts and entertainment industry—was an estimated $53.2 billion in fiscal 2000, and leveraged an additional $80.8 billion in event related spending by arts audiences. This $134 billion in total economic activity supports 4.85 million FTE jobs and generates $24.4 billion in government revenue annually.
  • From major metropolitan areas to small rural towns, this research shows that the nonprofit arts are an economically sound investment. They attract audiences, spur business development, support jobs, and generate government revenue. Locally as well as nationally, the arts mean business.

Source: Arts & Economic Prosperity, Americans for the Arts. 2002.


The Creative Industries in Denver

“ A creative economy is the fuel of magnificence.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Creative Industries study provides a new, research-based approach to understanding the scope and importance of the arts to the nation’s economy. The creative industries are composed of arts-centric businesses that range from museums, symphonies, and theaters to film, architecture, and advertising companies. Nationally, more than 548,000 businesses are involved in the production and delivery of America’s creative industries (4.3 percent of all U.S. businesses) and they employ 2.99 million people (2.2 percent of all employees). The creative industries also provide the high-octane fuel that drives the “information economy”—the fastest growing segment of the nation’s economy.

In Denver, there are 2,198 arts-related businesses (including nonprofits) that employed 12,433 people in January 2004. Using reliable Dun & Bradstreet data and geo-economic analysis, Americans for the Arts produced the map below to provide a clear picture of the creative industries in Denver.
The arts mean business!

2,198 Arts-Related Businesses in Denver Employ 12,433 People

The following table presents a detailed breakdown of the creative industries in Denver. The first column (“category”) is the name of the business sector; the second column (“businesses”) lists the number of companies—including nonprofits—in that sector; and the third column (“employees”) indicates the number of people employed by those companies. Totals are listed at the bottom of the table. Preliminary analysis suggest an under-representation of nonprofit arts organizations in the Dun & Bradstreet database, and consequently, in the data below. The source of these data is Dun & Bradstreet; they are current as of January 2004.

Museums and Collections 41 1,004
  Museums 35 832
  Zoos and Botanicals 3 166
  Historical Society 2 4
  Planetarium 1 2
Performing Arts 302 1,742
  Music 167 830
  Theater 6 20
  Dance 1 12
  Opera 1 15
  Services & Facilities 78 556
  Performers (nec) 49 309
Visual Arts/Photography 780 2,652
  Crafts 61 345
  Visual Arts 80 125
  Photography 479 1,642
  Services 160 540
Film, Radio and TV 277 2,788
  Motion Pictures 214 1,067
  Television 43 1,565
  Radio 20 156
Design and Publishing 752 3,829
  Architecture 227 1,660
  Design 307 766
  Publishing 10 17
  Advertising 208 1,386
Arts Schools and Services 46 418
  Arts Councils 1 2
  Arts Schools and Instruction 38 394
  Agents 7 22
GRAND TOTAL 2,198 12,433



There are a number of publications which can help you as you develop, market and manage cultural heritage tourism in your community or region. Some of these publications are listed below along with links to other websites where you can order these publications online. If you know of other publications that should be listed in this section, please contact us at

The following publications are available through the:

American Association of Museums at

Mastering Civic Engagement: A Challenge to Museums
This call to action from the Museums & Community Initiative challenges museums to pursue their potential as active players in community life. Essays and reflections by museum professionals and community practitioners offer food for thought on the complex process of changing the terms of engagement between communities and museums. ($24)

Museums & Community Toolkit
This toolkit is designed to assist museums in planning successful museum-community dialogues. It includes helpful hints, logistical tips, and sample documents for organizing a structured conversation among people involved in the business of building community. ($21)

Americans for the Arts at

Cultural Districts Handbook: The Arts as a Strategy for Revitalizing Our Cities
By Hilary Anne Frost-Kumpf. This handbook reveals how cultural districts are established, the processes and players that can help define their shape and strategy, and how cultural districts can best reflect the unique strengths of cities and well as support local artistic and redevelopment goals. ($23)

National Trust for Historic Preservation at

Share Your Heritage: Cultural Heritage Tourism Success Stories
An 80-page four-color publication featuring cultural heritage tourism success stories from across the country. Stories were selected by a national committee including representatives from historic preservation, museums, the arts and the humanities, plus Stories Across America: Opportunities in Rural Tourism: a companion 44-page publication of rural tourism success stories. ($25/pair)

Great Tours!: Thematic Tours and Guide Training for Historic Sites
Creating tours that are interesting and educational for visitors (and guides!) is a challenge every historic site faces. Great Tours! helps you focus clearly on the material culture and significance of your site and then shows you how to use that focus to train and energize your guides. You will be able to move your tours to a fresh new level that is engaging and educational for visitors of all ages and abilities. ($24.95)

Touring Historic Places
a 16-page guide for group tour operators and managers of historic sites to develop, market, and host group heritage tours. ($10)

Preserving Our Past: Building Our Future
an 8-minute video describing the economic impact of heritage tourism and other benefits that heritage tourism can provide. ($10)

If Walls Could Talk: Telling the Story of a Historic Building to Create a Market Edge
This publication offers marketing, public relations, and interior design strategies to create effective interpretation programs for rehabilitated historic buildings. ($4)

Interpreting Historic House Museums
The respected museum professionals who contributed to this book consider the history of house museums and the need to look at familiar issues from new perspectives and using new methods. Its discussion of contemporary issues and successful programs, its practical guidelines and information, up-to-date references, and lively illustrations will make it useful and relevant for both students and practicing professionals. ($24.95)

Public Relations Strategies for Historic Sites and Communities: Offering a Media Tour (PDF)
How to organize a media tour of historic sites and measure its success. ($6)

Welcoming Visitors to Your Community: Training Tour Guides and Other Hospitality Ambassadors
A guide to help communities, sites, and other organizations train tour guides, docents and other hospitality workers to welcome visitors to historic attractions. ($6)

Forum Journal – Summer l999 New Directions in Heritage Tourism:
A 60-page publication focusing on issues of heritage tourism. It contains eight articles reflecting current trends and initiatives in heritage tourism. ($6)

Travel Industry Association of America at

The Historic/Cultural Traveler 2003 Edition
This new study from TIA and Smithsonian Magazine underscores the popularity and importance of cultural, arts, historic, and heritage activities to U.S. travelers. This report provides a detailed profile of U.S. trips that include cultural/historic activities and examines the trip planning habits and attitudes of travelers that participate in such activities. Includes analyses of several segments of the historic/cultural travel market, such as census region of destination, mode of transportation, lodging type, household income groups, and generation groups. Information in this report is captured in two consumer studies conducted by the TIA, TravelScope and the Historic/Cultural Traveler Survey. ($135 TIA members/$225 nonmembers)

Tourism Works for America, 13th Annual Edition
The Tourism Works for America, 13th Annual Edition 2004 promotes a wider understanding of travel and tourism as a major U.S. industry that is vital to the economic stability and growth of the United States and that contributes substantially to its cultural and social well being. First published in 1991, this 36-page four-color publication is the single most authoritative publication that annually tells the combined story of the travel, tourism, hospitality, and recreation industries and improves the industry’s ability to speak with one consistent voice. ($25)

Geotourism: The New Trend in Travel, 2003 Edition
Geotourism is tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of the place being visited, including its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well being of its residents—it describes completely all aspects of sustainability in travel. Geotourism: The New Trend in Travel, sponsored by National Geographic Traveler, presents the results of a large consumer study on travelers' environmental and cultural attitudes and behaviors. The report defines "geotourists" as those who are quite conscious of the environment and are inclined to seek culture and unique experiences when they travel. They represent millions of travelers and are a very lucrative market for the travel industry. The report also explores consumer awareness of travel companies' various environmental and cultural practices, and shows that millions of travelers are poised to support geotourism practices with their travel dollars. ($135 TIA members/$225 nonmembers)

Domestic Travel Market Report, 2004 Edition
The Domestic Travel Market Report provides relevant information on the size and profile of all U.S. resident domestic travel, as well as various travel market segments based on TIA’s TravelScope monthly survey. This annual report provides an overview of the 1.140 billion person-trips taken domestically by U.S. residents and includes trip characteristics and traveler demographics for overall U.S. domestic travel in 2003. Data on participation by these travelers in 20 travel activities, including a number related to historic/cultural tourism, are also provided. ($180 TIA members/$300 nonmembers)

Other Publications

Balancing Nature and Commerce in Gateway Cities
Americans are migrating to communities near national parks, national wildlife refuges, and other natural areas in search of a better quality of life. As a result, communities surrounding these areas, known as gateway communities, are experiencing change at unprecedented rates. This book describes opportunities for preserving the character and integrity of gateway communities and the natural systems that surround them without sacrificing local economic well-being. ($22)

Vermont Cultural Heritage Tourism Toolkit
A comprehensive and practical guide to developing and promoting cultural heritage tourism in your community available as a full color booklet. The Toolkit is free and you may order one to be mailed to you for a $6.00 handling and shipping fee. Bulk orders of 10 or more are $5.00/each for handling and shipping. To view individual chapters of the Toolkit in PDF format go to Services/Partnerships. To order your copy by phone or by email and charge it to VISA or MasterCard,
contact Janice King at 802-828-3293 or


Save America’s Treasures
Save America’s Treasures is a national effort to protect "America's threatened cultural treasures, including historicstructures,collections, works of art, maps and journals that document and illuminate the history and culture of the United States." Established by Executive Order in February 1998, Save America's Treasures was originally founded as the centerpiece of the White House National Millennium Commemoration and as a public-private partnership that included the White House, the National Park Service and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Dedicated to the preservation and celebration of America's priceless historic legacy, Save Americas Treasures works to recognize and rescue the enduring symbols of American tradition that define us as a nation.

Alternative Enterprises and Agritourism
Alternative and agritourism enterprises allow farmers and ranchers to earn higher profits by replacing or supplementing traditional farm operations with innovative on-farm or on-ranch ventures. Alternative enterprises can take many forms. They can produce food and fiber or have little to do with agriculture. They can produce new or unique crops or livestock or add value to traditional agricultural products. They can produce fun, recreation, nature-based, or educational products. They can rely on traditional farm practices or use alternative methods, such as organic systems. They can be labor and resource intensive or require few inputs. They can operate seasonally, or year-round. But they all have a common theme: farmers and ranchers rely on the natural resources on their land - the soil, water, air, plants, wildlife, and scenery - to keep their family on the farm and the farm in their family. They also require sound land care. Since the land's resources generate income, conserving those resources makes good business sense.


What is Share Your Heritage?
Share Your Heritage is an initiative of Partners in Tourism, a coalition of national cultural organizations and agencies. It includes planning workshops, workshop curriculum training materials and a publication of cultural heritage tourism success stories. The success stories and training materials are available in printed form and can also be downloaded from this website. The workshops and the training materials allow communities to use successful projects and experts in cultural heritage tourism to help address critical issues. Each workshop results in an action plan to be implemented locally.

What are the Share Your Heritage workshops?
The workshops bring approximately 30 invited community, regional and state leaders representing a variety of disciplines together to develop sustainable cultural heritage tourism strategies. Each local workshop is designed to address specific cultural heritage tourism issues, and the workshop participants are carefully selected. Workshop sessions include cross-discipline training, cultural heritage tourism instruction using expert national and local faculty, and interactive training and problem solving exercises.

What do the curriculum materials for the workshops include?
The Share Your Heritage initiative includes how-to curriculum materials to supplement the National Trust for Historic Preservation's five principles and four steps for successful and sustainable cultural heritage tourism. The curriculum materials have been field tested in more than two dozen workshops completed between 2002 and 2005. The materials include best practices, interactive exercises and tips from experts in the field. They are designed to be used in workshop settings. Training materials can be downloaded from the “How to Get Started” section of this website.

To complement these curriculum materials, Share Your Heritage compiled a series of success stories. These were selected from nominations by key leaders in all 50 states and reviewed by a multidisciplinary review panel, including representatives from the American Association of Museums, the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The review panel looked for examples of successful partnership efforts with useful lessons and/or guidance for other emerging cultural heritage tourism projects or programs.

Where can I find the Share Your Heritage success stories?
These success stories are available through the National Trust for Historic Preservation as a four-color publication Share Your Heritage: Cultural Heritage Tourism Success Stories, and can also be found on this website in the “Success Stories” section. The 80-page, four-color publication includes two dozen success stories. It comes with a complimentary copy of the companion 44-page publication, Stories Across America: Opportunities in Rural Tourism. To order, go to or call (202) 588-6296. Cost: $25

How do I find out more about the Share Your Heritage workshops?
Contact the National Trust’s Heritage Tourism Program at (303) 623-1504.

1. Cultural and Heritage Tourism – The Same, or Different?
Cultural tourism, heritage tourism, cultural heritage tourism. Where do these terms overlap, and what are the differences between these terms?

2. Getting Started in Cultural Corridor Development
If you are developing a cultural corridor, this step-by-step checklist covers the critical actions that you will need to take.

3. How Does Your Statewide Program Measure Up?
How can statewide programs in cultural or heritage tourism measure their impact? This series of 10 questions will help statewide programs take a closer look at what they have accomplished.

4. Cultural Heritage Tourism Glossary of Terms
Cultural heritage tourism brings together a variety of fields such as tourism, the arts, preservation, museums, humanities and others—and each field has their own “alphabet soup” of terminology. This glossary of terms will help stakeholders speak the same language.

5. Five Principles Summary
A one-page summary of the five guiding principles for successful and sustainable cultural heritage tourism development.

6. Four Steps Summary
A one-page summary of the four basic steps for getting started or taking your cultural heritage tourism program to the next level.

7. How to Organize Successful Events & Celebrations

A series of handouts with tips to help you:

8. Cultural Heritage Tourism Creates Jobs
A 2-page information sheet with statistics from the Travel Industry Association on tourism jobs in the United States as well as descriptions of the diverse tourism related employment opportunities.