How Sustainable Has Cultural Tourism Proven To Be?

By Itty Okopide

At some point in our lives, the need to travel (travel more) beckons. This could be for various reasons ranging from seeking greener pastures, experiencing something unfamiliar, learning new cultures, or finding love. Whatever the reason might be, travelling is a worthwhile venture.

The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) estimated 25million international tourist arrivals in 1950; by 2018, the number increased to 1.4billion yearly. With this statistics, and with an increase in the number of travel agencies and independent tour guides, how sustainable has cultural tourism proven to be?

The average tourist seeks an authentic experience during a trip which could be cultural, religious, artistic, historical, or even traditional. Sadly, most travel agents miss out on tailoring client trips with these unique experiences in mind. For other agents, the difficulty lies in the inability to convince their clients to have these experiences. As most tourists seek fun-filled trips that expose them to shopping, mingling, or partying, less attention is paid to cultural tourism.

The Travel Personality Test, conducted by Travel Kulture, a tour agency, revealed that majority of travellers are Natural Mystiques. This category of travellers prefer a relaxed and simple itinerary. They mostly prefer their native country’s meal over exploring other meals. They also prefer to shop for personal items over traditional souvenirs and local pieces from the country of visit.

The growing lack of interest exhibited towards another country’s culture has made cultural tourism almost difficult to market. While some agents struggle with what cultural inclusions should make up a client’s itinerary, others focus only on selling cultural tourism to their clients through persuading them to “experience something new.”

What Efforts Have The Local Communities Made To Improve Cultural Tourism?

The local communities have a huge role to play in regards to the preservation and promotion of their respective cultures. The next important question to ask then would be what efforts have the communities made to drive tourism home.

Years go by and we see communities make minimal efforts to preserve their culture, history or tradition. As these communities fail at preserving their culture or tradition, they lose unique elements which could have been valuable to tourists.

If there is no preservation of culture, there can be no promotion of cultural tourism. Today, communities/countries take the lead in promoting their beautiful cultural features to draw in tourists from across the world. Some of these countries include South Africa, Dubai and Jordan, with dedicated channels that showcase the country’s culture and beauty.

What Role Do We All Play In Promoting Cultural Tourism?

becoming globally-inclined is the first step to take to aid the promotion of cultural tourism. It is only when we develop more interest in travelling that we get the chance to enjoy significant cultural experiences of other countries.

What should We Improve On?

Preventing cultural extinction should begin with educating our teenagers in schools and at home about their culture and the cultures of other countries.

Additionally, more work should be done by creating public awareness about different cultures by agencies and organisations in charge as this will build the desire in people to travel and learn more.

Our culture defines us and gives us a unique identity. When it is lost, we lose a better part of ourselves.

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