The characteristics of a country can be defined as: a permanent population; a defined territory; a government; and its relations with others. However, within a permanent population(people) and defined territory(place) there exists a glue that holds it all together- the culture of the people. From a tourism perspective, this is cultural tourism.
In our honest opinion, nothing makes a country more unique like its culture. The language, art, traditions, religion, fashion, food, and history of a country form the very DNA of its existence and should be explored. We all engage in some form of tourism more often than we think – we travel to places outside of our usual environment for business, leisure, education or even medicals. On these trips, we engage in tourist activities, we utilise accommodation, enjoy a meal out and generally enjoy the escape to somewhere different.
When dreaming about the perfect travel destination and experience, for many people it often includes sun, beaches, and luxurious resorts, incorporating lazy days, late nights, and a floating breakfast basket.
Some may wonder about the people, language, and history of where they are staying – and some will be daring enough to try a local meal – especially when travelling in Africa or Asia. And some will even try speaking a few words in the local language.
These very things are what makes our vacations are possible in the first place.
Never lose your sense of wonder or desire to understand the culture of the people. Understanding new cultures will help us see the world differently…
Benefits of Cultural Tourism
- Fosters cross cultural learning among individuals
- Establishes and reinforces identities
- Promotes preservation of cultural and artistic heritage
- Positive socio-economic impact
- Create more Jobs in the tourism sector
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
UNESCO was created in 1945 to help countries preserve their natural and cultural resources and since the organization produced the Convention on World Cultural and Natural Heritage together with proposals to conserve and promote it, cultural tourism has experienced huge growth throughout the world, but especially in Europe.
Currently there are 1,154 declared World Heritage Sites, the majority of them spread around three countries: Italy (80), China (101) and Spain (80). Africa has 149 world heritage sites with 96 of them as Cultural Sites.
Tangible & Intangible Cultural Heritage
Our Cultural heritage comes in two major forms all of which are equally important and should be explored.
- Tangible Cultural Heritage: this covers physical artifacts, artistic creations, built heritage such as buildings and monuments, and other physical or tangible products of human creativity
Intangible Cultural Heritage: this covers practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills – as well as the instruments, objects, artifacts. Examples of intangible heritage are oral traditions, performing arts, festivals, local knowledge, and traditional skills.
The importance of cultural tourism cannot be overemphasized, and we hope that through your travels you will come to appreciate the importance and diversity of our cultures.
Words – Itty Okopide / Images – Wikimedia, Rogiro – Flickr