While the term “cultural tourism” has been in use for several years, we still have a ways to go until it becomes a household term. Just do a Google search for “Cultural Tourism” and you’ll see that only two destinations make the first page of results--Cherokee Preservation Foundation and Europe. These results show that savvy destinations can absolutely make an impact by defining themselves as a cultural tourism destination.
What does this look like? Well, the reality is that lots of places already highlight aspects of their cultural tourism activities, such as art, architecture, religion, and opportunities to be immersed into the local way of life. However, destinations promote their architecture tours, or their art galleries, instead of pushing out the bigger catch-all of cultural tourism.
So, let’s take a look at the Cherokee Preservation Foundation, which came up as the sixth result on the first page of Google for our search. We are quite proud to have this destination only 45 minutes away and to have worked on this account to help increase their website traffic 233%. How? By unifying all their attractions and messaging to share their 11,000-year culture and history with an emotionally appealing media and creative campaign. This result in a passport program to encourage people to visit the various sites, dynamic ads, and a new look and feel for all their brand identity. The results still speak for themselves with this high Google ranking.
Now, let’s look at the Europe Google Cultural Tourism result. The link takes you to an old PDF of a study conducted for the European Association of Tourism and Leisure Education. So, in fact, it’s not promoting the destination to consumers but sharing WHY European cities should promote cultural tourism to marketing directors and DMOs.
Changing our Google search criteria to “Cultural Tourism Destinations” brings up the destinations Mexico, Canada, and an interesting article by the Sunday Telegraph laying out “The World’s Best Cultural Destinations.” Now we’re getting somewhere. Yet, wouldn’t it be fantastic for your destination to come up on this list instead of whole countries and a collection by a publication? By aligning your destination firmly with cultural tourism, your city, county, or region could come up as a top cultural tourism destination during a Google search. In the noisy travel industry, having this distinction could make all the difference.