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Cultural Tourism 101

Annually, tourists in Massachusetts generate about $15 billion in spending. How many of these travel-related dollars affect your organization?
Performance at the Pepperell Folk Festival; photo by Marilyn Humphries

Most people think of tourists as visitors from other areas of the country or other countries altogether. But because Massachusetts hosts so many varied vacation and cultural experiences, it benefits us all to expand our definition of tourists as people who live close by, in the next town over, or clear across the state. With that unique perspective in mind, we offer here a primer to cultural groups statewide seeking more information on connecting with tourists in the realm of "cultural tourism."

Annually, tourists in Massachusetts:

  • Generate $15.6 billion in direct spending
  • Generate an additional $963 million in state and local taxes
  • Support 128,800 jobs in a variety of industries

Irish Step Dancers; photo by Kindra Clineff, courtesy of the Massachusetts Office of Travel and TourismWhat, Exactly, is Cultural Tourism?
Cultural Tourism is the travel industry's term describing travel and visitation activities directed at an area's arts, heritage, recreational and natural resources. It's not a new phenomenon (tourists have come to Massachusetts for decades to experience these things), but it is a new way of connecting with visitors eager for a cultural excursion. These multi-cultural and multi-generation visitors make destination choices related directly to a region's performance, artistic, architecture and historical offerings. In Massachusetts, we have several of the world's best cultural destinations.

Why Is Cultural Tourism Hot Now?
People have always come to Massachusetts to visit our cultural sites, but only recently have we discovered what makes these visitors tick. Recent tourism research indicates clearly that Cultural Tourists are a force to be reckoned with. Here's why:

  1. Cultural Tourism is the fastest growing sector of the travel industry.

  2. Cultural Tourists spend $62 more per day and $200 more per trip than other travelers.

  3. Cultural Tourists include multiple destinations during a visit and stay one half-day longer at each destination.

  4. Cultural Tourists have higher levels of income.

How Can I Take Advantage of the Cultural Tourism Boom?
Getting a piece of the Cultural Tourism pie takes planning, creativity, collaboration and a good knowledge of the basics. Select a link from the menu above to get started.

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