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Culture vultures

Culture vultures

Cultural destinations are winning more and more of tourists' hard earned cash as the global travel and tourism industry goes from strength to strength.

That's according to Euromonitor International's travel research report, “The World Market for Travel and Tourism”,

The report highlights that cultural destinations have witnessed an impressive increase in value sales of 51 per cent from 2000 to 2005, with tourists increasingly willing to spend their travel and leisure time on more educational visits.

Historical attractions become more popular
Global Travel and Tourism Manager at Euromonitor International, Caroline Bremner, explains, “Tourism has become one of the world's biggest and fastest growing industries, with global visitor numbers growing by 16 per cent over 2004 and 2005 to reach 118.6 million.

"As a result, towns, cities and regions are aggressively marketing their natural and historical attributes in order to encourage visitors.

She adds, “The growth of attractions such as historic buildings/sites, art galleries and museums is also a reflection of demographic changes, such as ageing populations.”

“In particular the baby-boomer generation is helping to give rise to the trend towards more cultural types of attractions.”

Culture is created to attract more tourists

The importance of the culture trend can be seen by the way destinations, which lack a particular cultural attraction, have started to create events that will appeal to culture lovers, such as festivals of opera, art, cinema and literature.

Music festivals, for example, are very popular in Spain, with events such as Benaccassim attracting many festival goers on an annual basis.

Tour operators are harnessing this great opportunity by arranging special packages to a wide range of events, from classical music concerts to jazz festivals.

Germany is another very popular destination for cultural events. The Oktoberfest in Munich is the most highly visited tourist attraction in the country, attracting some 6.3 million visitors in 2005 alone.

Major sporting events boost tourism potential

Sporting events are also a growing attraction for tourists, with increasing numbers of people willing to travel to watch major world events, such as the Olympics and the World Cup.

Countries hosting these events are therefore being encouraged to improve their infrastructure and tourism facilities in order to prepare for large influxes of tourists.

Beijing, host of the 2008 Olympics, is a key example of how sporting events can benefit the infrastructure for tourism.

Caroline Bremner comments, “This huge event is expected to provide a platform for showcasing both Beijing and China. Beijing is investing 180 billion RMB in 142 urban infrastructure projects, including the construction of subways, light railways, motorways and airports”.

With a number of high-profile sporting events coming up in the next few years, including the Cricket World Cup in the Caribbean 2007, the Football World Cup in South Africa in 2010 and the 2012 Olympics in London, Euromonitor International advises both travel and tourism companies and host countries alike to prepare themselves well, in order to take advantage of these forthcoming goldmines of opportunity.

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