The President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities joined with its other coalition members in Partners in Tourism to support the Cultural Heritage Tourism Exchange on May 3 in Washington, DC. Cultural and heritage tourism is one of the nation’s most dynamic economic sectors. Encompassing twenty-nine federal agencies and corresponding national organizations, Partners in Tourism grew out of the landmark 1995 White House Conference on Travel & Tourism, and its purpose is to advance the role of culture and heritage in national, state and local travel and tourism policies and practices. Over the last sixteen years the framework and body of research that grew out of Partners's efforts like the exchange have demonstrated culture’s contribution to the economic vitality and livability of communities across the country.
The Cultural Heritage Tourism Exchange convened more than 100 leaders in cultural and heritage tourism from 22 states to help move this important sector forward at the state, local and national level by sharing expertise and proven tactics used by practitioners. The members of Partners in Tourism engaged in back and forth dialogue with particpants on the potential intersections, collaborations and connections between the arts, humanities, heritage, nature and tourism. This dialogue was informed by the 242 practioners from 42 states, who shared their perspectives on issues, policies and the health of the field in an online survey. The exchange comes at a time of shrinking resources and investment, but also a time of opportunity with national initiatives and commemorations such as the 150th anniversary of the Civil War getting underway, as well as a marketing effort to share America’s rich and diverse culture with international visitors.
"This exchange builds on previous reports and national forums – including the 2005 Cultural Heritage Tourism Summit – to identify and implement strategies that recognize the contribution of America’s culture and heritage as a vital component of the tourism industry and our country’s brand,” says Helen Marano, Director, Office of Travel and Tourism Industries at the U.S. Department of Commerce. “Our goal with the exchange is to identify ways to advance cultural heritage tourism in America, and promote our unique assets as a national export, ” she said.
Supported by the U.S. Department of Commerce Office of Travel & Tourism Industries (OTTI) and implemented by Hargrove International, Inc., the exchange wrapped up its meeting with a list of eight priorities and a series of other recommendations for research, policy and product development. Partners in Tourism will review the recommendations and develop a series of next steps to carry out the recommendations. For more information on the exchange and the survey visit Cultural Heritage Tourism Exchange.