Tourism research

Annual review of activities 2016

Tourism researchGreg Richards

The ATLAS Cultural Tourism Group continues to collect data on the motivations, behaviour and experiences of cultural tourists, as it has been doing since 1991. Regular surveys of cultural tourists have been carried out in destinations around the world, and a summary of some of the recent research was published last year by ATLAS (Richards, 2015).

More recent research was carried out by Aljoša Budović, Nikola Todorović, Jelena Apelić and Gorana Romić from the Faculty of Geography at the University of Belgrade. They studied young tourists in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia.

This research underlines the importance of culture for city tourism, as cultural attractions and events were motivations for the majority of visitors (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Travel purpose for visitors in Belgrade

Around 40% of visitors also indicated that their usual type of holiday was a cultural holiday, and a further 15% also indicated that they had engaged in creative tourism (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Usual type of holiday for visitors to Belgrade

Over a third of visitors had an occupation related to culture, underlining the strong link between work and leisure (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Is your occupation related to culture?

The results of the Serbian surveys and other ATLAS research underline the continuing importance of cultural tourism for destinations worldwide. This is also being recognised by the UNWTO, which has recently established a Tourism and Culture Department, and which has conducted a global survey of the cultural tourism market. The report, which is due to be published this autumn, reaffirms the large market share of cultural tourism, which accounts for just under 40% of all international trips, measured in terms of cultural activities. As established by earlier ATLAS research, the proportion of tourists traveling with a specific cultural motivation is much lower, around 11%.

The joint project initiated by the ATLAS Cultural Tourism Group and the Cities and National Capital Tourism Research Group in 2013 has resulted in the publication of a new book edited by Paolo Russo and Greg Richards. Reinventing the Local in Tourism: Producing, Consuming and Negotiating Place is published by Channel View, and brings together many of the papers presented in the Barcelona meeting as well as many other invited contributions. This book investigates the way localities are shaped and negotiated through tourism, and explores the emerging success of local peer-produced hospitality and tourism services which are transforming the tourist experience. Tourists are now being brought into much closer contact with locals and have new opportunities to experience the community at their destination. The book examines how these place experiences and travel-sharing arrangements have now spread globally through the mediation of ‘place experts’ who are redefining the tourism distribution system.

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