In our previous article, we highlighted the increasing importance of cultural tourism:
‘Cultural Tourism’ refers to “visits by travellers from outside the host community, who are motivated entirely or partially by (their) interest in the historical developments or the heritage essence pertaining to the ethnicity, artistic, scientific, habitat lifestyles, traditions and believes of the host community, or the region”.
We spoke about the opportunity that destinations and hotels have: by collaborating with cultural spots and highlighting cultural areas that are nearby, they can attract cultural tourists to their location.
In this second part, we will cover two examples of cultural tourism that have brought increased travel and tourism traffic.
An Example of Constructive Efforts: Kenya’s Cultural Manyattas
Manyatta is a settlement in Kenya's Eastern Province where the Maasai people inhabit the African Great Lakes region. They are cattle farmers famous for their fearsome reputation as warriors and cattle-rustlers. The Maasai people have been creating beaded jewellery which is an important part of their culture well before coming into contact with Europeans.
Every Maasai woman learns the jewellery-making craft and sets aside time each day to work on colourful necklaces, belts, bracelets, pendants, etc. Their unique skill in beading has always served as a major source of income for the Maasai people.
The colours used are not only selected for their beauty but are also symbolic; ‘Red’ to symbolize bravery and unity, ‘Yellow’ or ‘Orange’ for hospitality, ‘White’ for peace, purity, and health, ‘Blue’ for energy and the sky, ‘Green’ for health and land, and ‘Black’ to represent the people and the struggles they endured.
The African Conservation Centre, a stakeholder of the Amboseli Ecosystem Plan, has implemented activities to improve the income of the Maasai people accrued from tourism.
Its “Cultural Manyatta” is a co-operative where each group has a central market to sell their handicrafts.
Manyattas are also the loaf-shaped traditional huts made of wood sticks and cow dung. The Maasai people earn income from these special homesteads where tourists come to visit, hear and experience the Maasai culture.
Tourists pay a fee and are welcomed with song and dance by Maasai women. A resident guide will then show visitors around the Manyattas to witness Maasai life. Towards the end of a visit, their warriors stage a dance, where visitors are welcome to join in.
For more references on Maasai Cultural Menyatta, visit the African Conservation Centre.
An Example of Constructive Efforts: Barcelona’s Cultural Exploration
Barcelona has over 2,000 years of history and cultural traditions inherited throughout the Iberian, Roman, Arabian and Christian civilisations. Barcelona has nine World Heritage Sites; Palau de la Música Catalina, Park Güell, La Pedrera, Palau Güell, Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, Sagrada Familia, Casa Batlló, Casa Vicens and Cripta de la Colònia Güell.
21% of all foreign tourists come for the purpose of exploring culture, the second largest after leisure holidaymakers. Each year, Turisme de Barcelona stages 400 promotional activities, selected and launch according to respective target market segmentation and classifications of tourists coming from major source countries.
Activities include art and culture, shopping, sports, nightlife, leisure, etc.
Barcelona has successfully used culture and heritage to lead in its destination branding.
There are ‘Walking Tours’ along the Gothic Quarter to experience medieval streets filled with trendy bars, clubs and restaurants, as well as options to experience the historic and political heart of the city. Also available are ‘Gourmet Routes’ which goes through old townships for visitors to explore Barcelona’s gastronomic culture.
A few years ago, Barcelona Tourism Board introduced the “Barcelona Card” – offering tourists unlimited free travel on city transport, airport trains, free entry to museums, exclusive deals and discounts, etc. For more references on Barcelona Cultural Tours, check out the Barcelona Card.
The examples of Kenya’s ‘Manyattas’ and Barcelona’s ‘Cultural Exploration’, initially conceived as basic ideas, have subsequently paved the way to attracting global interests on their respective Cultural Tourism attractions.
They allow the diversity of their inner worlds to be conveniently experienced first-hand through their customs, language, architecture, foods, music, rituals, etc.
Through public-private partnerships and effective collaborations, ideas and concepts were cleverly delivered. The intention here is for global travellers to be invited by local guides and then to leave with a richer understanding and appreciation of their uniqueness.
It is clear that culture and tourism are increasingly linked, and together, they can improve the attractiveness and the competitiveness of a destination. Cultural Tourism is a game changer that governments, institutions, travel and hospitality establishments simply cannot ignore.
Importantly, to fulfil the enticement of global travellers and tourists to regularly visit a destination’s cultural sites, it would require carefully-crafted attraction marketing information in their preferred languages.
Otherwise, whatever groundworks that were made will not yield desired results, while investments would all be futile.