After nearly 30 years of being introduced as the projected mainstay of the tourism industry, heritage and cultural tourism is still the main tourism driver. It is the core of any community’s tourism. Tired of been there, done that traveling, 85% of today’s visitors want to truly explore and experience a region, seeing it as a worthwhile investment of time. These visitors, who spend more, stay longer, and visit more locations while “in-destination” have moved beyond the typical travel hotspots, seeking instead to connect and engage with people in communities where they live. This can mean exploring history and traditions, trying various types of local cuisine, and participating in special activities. Traditionally non-business travel, heritage and cultural tourism has also now become a mainstay of “bleisure” travelers, travelers who combine business and leisure into the same trip when they are working remotely in an unfamiliar location.
The core of heritage and cultural tourism is based on the concept that every community has a story to tell. It begins with the heritage of the people who settled or the Native Americans who were in residence when the settlers arrived, and the landscape they found. Culture is what has developed since. Since there are no two exact combinations of heritage and landscape in the United States, that is likely what makes a destination, a destination. It gives every community a unique story to tell.