Cultural tourism is the phenomenon of tourists, both local and from afar, seeking to discover the culture, history, food, and artistry of a destination. Churches, theatres, museums, national heritage sites, and even cemeteries are commonly known cultural tourism destinations. With the rise of popular culture, social media, and fandoms even once ordinary places are now popular tourist attractions. Popular culture tourism focuses on the popular culture history of a destination: Filming locations; the area where a musician, author, artist, or actor was born and raised; places where a popular book was set, and more. Being ‘on location’ where a movie or TV show was filmed has become the new rage. Take a look at this list of Do’s and Don’ts to help you promote cultural tourism in your area.
Create tours around the interesting, popular or historical culture in your surrounding areas.
Showcase the aspects of the locations which inspired or featured in a beloved story, TV show, book, or film. Utilize the scenery where a shot was filmed or inspired by a famous novel. Many fans of popular culture dream of walking the same paths, sitting in the same restaurants, and being in the same place as their favorite writers, characters, and musicians. “Popular culture is one of the major forces driving today’s travelers’ intentions and choices,” says Rob Russell, Co-CEO of AC Group. Add elements from relevant popular culture favorites to the decor and description of your destination to emphasize the cultural history of your location to guarantee a larger tourist population.
Take advantage of the knowledge and expertise of the local population around you.
Look into the history of your area, discuss with locals and discover if there are any interesting traditions, legends, stories, or events. Collaborate with local artists and storytellers to create authentic cultural experiences that tourists will love. Work together to create the destination that will immerse travelers in the world of their favorite book or movie. Design an experience that will educate and inspire by sharing stories of the great artists, authors and musicians who grew up in the area. Showcase the beauty of the local area through partnerships to better the community.
Find your niche.
“Harry Potter” and “Game Of Thrones” are widely loved inspirations for cultural tourism, however all movies, books, and music have a passionate audience even if they are more niche. Discover which author, musician, or actor was born nearby. Look into the TV shows and movies that were filmed in the area. Utilize this in your marketing as you never know who could be looking for an experience surrounding less conventional popular culture. There are two main drawcards for popular culture tourism. One is the ability to be immersed in the often fictional world depicted on screen or in books (Waysdorf and Reijnders, 2016). The second factor is that destinations focused on a popular culture experience facilitate face-to-face interactions with other fans, which can transfer the fandom community from digital to physical (Kington, 2015).
Don’t underestimate the charm of visiting places that you have only read about in books or seen in movies.
However, it is important to be cautious when adding elements to your location based on popular culture to avoid tackiness. A piece of advice from Rob Russell, Co-CEO of AC Group – “You need to avoid making the experience tacky.” Don’t go overboard with transforming your location to draw popular culture tourists, be tasteful in design choices to attract tourists, while still keeping the experience approachable to all.
Don’t disrespect a culture.
According to World Tourism Organization Secretary-General Francesco Frangialli, “Tourism, if developed in a responsible, balanced and sustainable manner, can become a driving force for environmental protection, heritage conservation and cultural pride.” Be cautious in dealing with any and all cultural and historical references sensitively and intelligently. The history of a given place should always be given the sincere respect and reverence it deserves. History is complex and often fraught with conflicting views. It is vital to accurately and respectfully honor the past while educating cultural tourists.
Take your destination to the next level by connecting it to cultural and popular culture tourism. The modern-day traveler is looking for experiences and adventure. Be the place they dream of with these do and don’ts.
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