MGET. Adriana Fabiola Cantú Moya 

What is Cultural Tourism?

MGET. Adriana Fabiola Cantú Moya 

¿Qué es el Turismo Cultural?

Without culture, tourism cannot be explained. This brief but powerful statement reaffirms why cultural tourism since the beginning of the industry's history has been the second most important reason to motivate and be the main reason to make a trip. Trade was the first cause of "moving to other regions, even discovering new worlds", one of the oldest classifications and the most widely practised among tourists.

The World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) describes cultural tourism as a movement of people essentially for cultural motivation, such as study tours, artistic performances, festivals or other cultural events, visits to sites and monuments, folklore, art or pilgrimage.

For its part, the Mexican Ministry of Tourism (SECTUR) defines cultural tourism as that tourist trip whose motivations are to know, understand and enjoy the set of distinctive features and elements, spiritual and material, intellectual and affective, that characterise a society or social group of a specific tourist destination.

The main advantage for enjoying this type of tourism is the quality of its timelessness.

Reasons for cultural tourism

At present, there are still a number of reasons that have increased the demand for cultural tourism in the world, with Europe standing out as the starting point.

What is the cultural tourist like?

The tourist who looks for different alternatives to choose his destination based on the cultural tourism offer, is part of a naturally curious clientele, eager for knowledge, seeking to understand the background of the elements shown, to marvel at everything and to be surprised by every detail, and it is precisely in this tourism that seeks signs of identity and exalts the autochthonous, immersed in a nostalgic feeling, therefore the question is: How to make the familiar exotic?

The trend that cultural tourism is setting is global, and it is nothing new, it is simply revitalising the classic and traditional cultural spaces or rescuing ignored or underestimated spaces as tourist resources: in both situations, the aim is to captivate, entertain and fascinate through experiences that connect with the traveller in the scenario of an experiential destination that will leave him with a memorable experience, as he will have participated in the culture of that destination, which will allow him to prove that he was there.

How to create a cultural destination?

The starting point is based on observation. Observe carefully in the locality, review in detail the existing resources and let creativity flow to design a new tourism product to add to the destination's offer.

It is not necessary to think of large investments to develop it; on the one hand, the proposal can be derived from giving a "jolt" with an activity to what is being presented in the museum of the city, in the parish, in the archaeological zone regardless of its size - what counts is the vestige of a civilisation -, the observatory, in the main square, in the viewpoint, in an old house, in the centre of an exhacienda, in the typical sweet shop, etc.., the aim is to involve the tourist in the local culture and create unforgettable sensory experiences.

And on the other side of the coin, it also consists of giving life to those spaces or objects ignored or underestimated as tourist resources, giving them a history, illuminating them with the mysticism of a legend, bathing them with the light of the romanticism of an impossible love or of a love that triumphed, placing them even in a part of the history of Mexico or of some relevant event for the community, possibilities exist and many, it is even feasible to use some unpleasant or unfavourable events of the city, but that thanks to the "curiosity" of the tourist, they will be sold.

To do the above is not impossible, it is enough to dig into the city archives or "create" what in reality did not exist, and it is not lying, nor is it making fun of the tourist - we must remember that no tourist walks around with a history book to check if it is true or not - it is simply creating a new tourist product, because in the end what matters is that the local economy circulates, that tourists stay one more night, that they enjoy the flavours of the gastronomy at different times, that they take the traditional souvenir, and that in each photo they show the city they visited, the city in which they enjoyed experiences and from which they left very happy.


    [1] SECTUR/CESTUR. (2003). El turismo cultural en México. Mexico, D.F. Design and production: Spacio. Retrieved from

    [2] Santana Talavera, Agustín (2003). Cultural tourism, tourist cultures. Spain. Horizontes antropológicos. Recuperado de

    [3] García López, Raúl (March 8, 2016). Evolution and trends in cultural tourism. Spain. Aprende de Turismo. Retrieved from

    [4] Santana Talavera, Agustín (2003). Cultural tourism, tourist cultures. Spain. Horizontes antropológicos. Recuperado de

    [5] Sánchez, Carlos (2017). The 5 steps of experiential tourism.  LID Empresa Editorial.

Author: MGET. Adriana Fabiola Cantú Moya. Entorno Turístico

The authors are responsible for the choice and presentation of the facts contained in this document and for the opinions expressed therein, which are not necessarily those of Tourism and Society Think Tank and do not commit the Organization, and should not be attributed to TSTT or its members.

This site uses cookies from Google to deliver its services and to analyze traffic. Information about your use of this site is shared with Google. By using this site, you agree to its use of cookies.