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A transnational study of European cultural tourism demand and supply indicates a rapid increase in both the production and consumption of heritage attractions. Although heritage tourism demand has been fueled by rising income and education levels, there has also been a significant supply-induced element of demand. In particular, those engaged in cultural production play a key role in exploiting the cultural capital concentrated in the major historic centers of Europe. Spatially localized production of heritage is intimately linked with socially limited consumption of heritage tourism by groups within the “new middle class”, rendering attempts to spread tourism consumption through heritage promotion difficult.RésuméProduction et consommation du tourisme culturel européen. Une étude de l'offre et la demande du tourisme culturel européen indique une augmentation rapide dans la production et consommation des attractions patrimoniales. Quoique la demande pour le tourisme patrimonial soit alimentée par des niveaux montants de revenus et d'instruction, il y a un élément significatif de la demande qui est provoqué par l'offre. En particulier, ceux qui sont engagés dans la production culturelle jouent un rôle clé dans l'exploitation de la capitale culturelle concentrée dans les grandes villes européennes. Le patrimoine localisé est étroitement liéà la consommation socialement limitée du tourisme patrimonial par la ⪡nouvelle classe moyenne⪢, ce qui rend difficile des tentatives pour augmenter la consommation du tourisme par la promotion du patrimoine.
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Annals rf Tourism Research, Vol. 23, No. 2, pp. 261-283, 1996
CopyrIght 0 1996 Elsevier Science Ltd
Printed in Great Britain. All rights resewed
0160.7383/96 $l5.00+0.00
Greg Richards
Tilburg University, The Netherlands
Abstract: A transnational study of European cultural tourism demand and supply indicates a
rapid increase in both the production and consumption of heritage attractions. Although
heritage tourism demand has been fueled by rising income and education levels, there has
also been a significant supply-induced element of demand. In particular, those engaged in
cultural production play a key role in exploiting the cultural capital concentrated in the major
historic centers of Europe. Spatially localized production of heritage is intimately linked with
socially limited consumption of heritage tourism by groups within the “new middle class”,
rendering attempts to spread tourism consumption through heritage promotion difficult.
Keywords: cultural tourism, heritage, Europe, consumption.
R&urn& Production et consommation du tourisme culture1 europten. Une ttude de I’offre et
la demande du tourisme culture1 europCen indique une augmentation rapide dans la produc-
tion et consommation des attractions patrimoniales. Quoique la demande pour le tourisme
patrimonial soit aliment& par des niveaux montants de revenus et d’instruction, il y a un
Cltment signiiicatif de la demande qui est provoqut par I’offre. En particulier, ceux qui sent
engages dans la production culturelle jouent un r81e cl& dans I’exploitation de la capitale
culturelle concentree dans les grandes villes europCennes. Le patrimoine IocalisC est ttroite-
ment IiC 2 la consommation socialement IimitCe du tourisme patrimonial par la ~mouvelle
classe moyenne,,, cc qui rend difflcile des tentatives pour augmenter la consommation du
tourisme par la promotion du patrimoine. Mot.+cl&: tourisme culturel, patrimoine, Europe,
A cursory reading of tourism policy documents produced by
national and regional governments across Europe in the last 15 years
would soon convince the reader that heritage tourism is a major
“new” area of tourism demand, which almost all policy-makers are
now aware of and anxious to develop. Heritage tourism, as a part of
the broader category of “cultural tourism”, is now a major pillar of
the nascent tourism strategy of the European Commission (1992).
The assumptions that all these cultural tourism strategies have in
common are that this is a major growth area, that it can be used to
boost local culture, and that it can aid the seasonal and geographic
spread of tourism (Richards 1994). Many policies also make the
assumption that tourists are interested in a generalized cultural or
heritage product and that the cultural heritage of one region is just
as good as the next for the purposes of developing tourism. There
Greg Richards is lecturer in Leisure Studies at Tilburg University Department of Leisure
Studies (PO Box 90153, 5000 LE Tilburg, The Netherlands. email He is
Coordinator of the European Association for Tourism and Leisure Education (ATLAS) and
has participated in transnational projects on cultural tourism, sustainable tourism and tourism
and leisure education.
is increasing evidence to suggest, however, that cultural tourists are
in fact highly selective in their consumption of heritage resources
and that “traditional” heritage areas still have a considerable advan-
tage over “new” heritage areas because of the accumulated symbolic
and aesthetic value accruing to the former.
The emergence of heritage tourism has spawned a veritable
plethora of studies dedicated to the analysis of the heritage
phenomenon and the reasons for its spectacular growth (Hewison
1987; Prentice 1993; Rojek 1993; Shaw 1991; Urry 1990). The expla-
nations advanced for the popularity of heritage tourism are varied,
but they tend to agree that tourists want more cultural and heritage
experiences, whether these be meaningful and “authentic”
(MacCannell 1976) or a vacuous, shallow form of entertainment
packaged as “pseudo-events” (Boorstin 1964) or an opportunity for
people to produce and structure their own meanings from the
tourism experience (Urry 1990). Even though it is often argued that
heritage tourism is a manifestation of the commodilication of
culture (Hewison 1987), f ew attempts have been made to place its
development in the context of the growing body of work that
analyzes the role of commodities and their consumption in modern
life (Bocock 1993; Bourdieu 1984).
Such a broad perspective is necessitated by the increasingly far-
reaching consequences of cultural and heritage tourism develop-
ment. Many authors have identified the collapse of boundaries
between the “cultural” and the “economic” as a key feature of
postmodernity (Harvey 1989; Jameson 1984; MacCannell 1993). The
consumption of culture is increasingly used as a means of economic
regeneration, and the creation of cultural facilities is an important
weapon in the competitive struggle to attract inward investment to
European cities (Bianchini 1990). In place of cultural provision being
driven by the development of the productive base, therefore,
postmodernity is marked by consumption-driven cultural production.
The need to attract capital and middle-class spending power dictates
that tourism is an essential ingredient of the creation of consump-
tion growth poles, or “cultural capital-driven development
complexes” (Britton 1991:470). In considering the growth of cultural
and heritage tourism, therefore, it is not sufficient to look only at
the development of heritage attractions. The question of who
consumes these attractions, and the manner in which they are
consumed will also have an important influence on the production,
form and location of these attractions.
A number of authors have attempted to analyze either the consump-
tion or production of heritage attractions (Ashworth and Tunbridge
1990; Prentice 1993), and rather fewer have explored the link between
heritage consumption and production in detail (MacCannell 1976;
Odermatt 1994; Urry 1990). One weakness common to many of these
previous studies is the limited spatial context of the examples drawn
upon. Most studies are limited to a single city, or at best, a number
of isolated case studies drawn from different areas.
This article attempts to take a wider, European perspective to the
issue of heritage tourism development. Utilizing data on the
consumption and production of heritage tourism in Europe, an
analysis is made of the form and causes of its growth. It is argued
that cultural and heritage tourism not only results from the expan-
sion of the “new middle classes”, who are the predominant
consumers of heritage, but it also reflects the role of these same
consumers in shaping the production of heritage commodities.
Watson and Kopachevsky have argued that “modern tourism is
best understood in the context of the cornmodification process and
contemporary consumer culture” (1994:657). In fact, much of the
recent argument surrounding the nature of tourism has centered on
the nature of tourism consumption and the commodities that
tourists consume. For example, Boorstin deplored the rise of mass
tourism as an example of the transformation of “real” experiences
into shallow “pseudo events”. The ultimate example of the empty
commodities offered to tourists was:
The relatively recent phenomenon of the tourist attraction is pure
and simple. It often has no purpose but to attract the interest of
the owner or of the nation. As we might expect, the use of the word
“attraction” as “a thing or feature which ‘draws’ people; especially
any interesting or amusing exhibition” dates only from about 1862.
It is a new species: the most attenuated form of a nation’s culture.
All over the world now we find these “attractions” - of little signif-
icance for the inward life of a people, but wonderfully saleable as
a tourist commodity (1964: 103).
In contrast to Boorstin, MacCannell (1976) viewed the tourism
attraction as being imbued with meaning precisely through its
consumption by the tourist. Modern society, constructed on denial of
tradition, forces people to create their own traditions. One of the
most powerful modern traditions is tourism, with attractions acting
as key cultural experiences, in which meaning is created through
consumption, rather than the productive processes central to previ-
ous eras. The search for authenticity and meaning described by
MacCannell may well encounter barriers of cornmodification.
However, as Watson and Kopachevsky point out, the tourism
consumption described by MacCannell:
. , . force one to recognize that people now live in a world in which
tourism and tourist experience are major components. Such a
world is one in which image, advertising and consumerism - as
framed by style, taste, travel, “designerism” and leisure - take
primacy over production per se (1994:647).
The disappearance of traditional divisions between the realms of
production and consumption and between the cultural and the
economic are examples of what MacCannell (1993) has identified as
the collapse of the distinction between means and production.
Former production spaces have now been given over to consumption,
as in the case of former coal mines turned into museums and visitor
centers. For MacCannell, therefore, all tourism is a cultural experi-
ence. Urry (1990) takes this argument one step further by arguing
that tourism is culture. In the new culture of tourism, specially
created consumption areas have been developed, which are designed
to aid tourists in their search for authenticity and meaning. Labeling
these “escape areas”, Rojek (1993:136) divides them into four
categories: “black spots”, “heritage attractions”, “literary
landscapes” and “theme parks”.
It is no accident that at least two of these categories of escape
area have heritage connections. Rojek argues that in an era of
postmodern consumption, spectacle has become so ubiquitous that
the spectacular is no longer a sufficient basis for a tourism attrac-
tion. The added value provided by heritage attractions and theme
parks alike is that they provide a reassuring link to the past for
postmodern tourists who, in Rojek’s (1993) view, are “emigres from
the present”. Similar arguments are presented by Britton (1991),
who points out that the multiplication of tourism commodities
causes a “waning effect” (Jameson 1984), where tourism attractions
must be recreated with increasing frequency in order to sustain the
novelty value of consumption. This is achieved, Britton argues, by
utilizing the cultural and symbolic capital attached to specific places
to create new attractions, events and spectacles. Cultural and
heritage attractions have, therefore, become an essential part of the
consumption practices that order the contemporary landscape of
Culture and Heritage
A major problem in analyzing cultural consumption is the vast
scope of meanings implied by the term “culture”. Tomlinson notes
that hundreds of definitions of culture exist, “which would suggest
that either there is a considerable amount of confusion . . . or that
‘culture’ is so large and all-embracing a concept that it can accom-
modate all these definitions” (1991:4). There is a sense of culture
as a complex whole, which provides an organizing concept for the
widely varied “ways of life”. Trying to define culture in a single
broadly acceptable definition produces a level of generalization that
renders the act of definition useless.
The solution proposed by Tomlinson and others (van Maanen and
Laurent 1993) is not to seek an all-embracing definition of what
culture is, but rather to concentrate on the way in which the term
is actually used. Williams (1983) identifies three broad categories of
modern usage of the term: as a general process of intellectual, spiri-
tual and aesthetic development; as indicative of a particular “way of
life”; and as the works and practices of intellectual and artistic activ-
ity. A glance at the history of tourism consumption shows that the
emphasis of usage has shifted over time, away from the process of
cultivation exemplified by the Grand Tour (Towner 1985) towards
the last two categories. Van Maanen and Laurent (1993) character-
ize these remaining two basic uses of the term culture in the
academic literature in terms of “culture as process” and “culture as
Culture as process is an approach derived from anthropology and
sociology, which regards it mainly as codes of conduct embedded in
a specific social group. The culture as product approach derives
particularly from literary criticism. Culture is regarded as the
product of individual or group activities to which certain meanings
are attached. In general, the two meanings of culture are closely
intertwined. In recent years, however, there has been growing
concern expressed about the commodification of culture. Tourism in
particular has been identified as a major force for commodification.
The transformation of culture as process into culture as product and
its resulting cornmodification is the phenomenon deplored by
Hewison (1987:139): that history has become a commodity called
heritage. Hewison criticizes the emergence of the heritage industry,
not only for the production of empty commodities, but also because
the cornmodified history so generated can be shaped to meet polit-
ical and economic rather than cultural ends.
There is no doubt that the presence of tourists often leads to the
creation of cultural manifestations specilically for tourism consump-
tion (Cohen 1988). In these circumstances, culture as process is
transformed through tourism (as well as other social mechanisms)
into culture as product. Many would disagree with Hewison, however,
about the extent to which the “heritage industry” has produced
commodities empty of meaning. Cohen (1988:379) argues that some
cultural products developed for tourists may exhibit “emergent
authenticity”, and be accepted as “authentic” by both tourists and
cultural producers alike. MacCannelI (197625) refers to “cultural
productions”, a term that refers not only to the process of culture,
but also to the products that result from that process. MacCannell
identified tourism as the ideal arena in which to investigate the
nature of such cultural production, which in essence expresses the
concept of commodi~cation applied to tourism. Depending on the
point of view, therefore, the consumers of heritage tourism are
either the witless dupes of a commodity production system or they
are the originators of authentic modern cultural products. In order
to shed some light on these opposing views, it is important to estab-
lish who the consumers of heritage tourism actually are.
Heritage and Postmodern tourism consumption
Cultural and heritage tourism have been identified in numerous
studies as important new areas of consumer demand in Europe and
elsewhere (Berroll 1981; Bywater 1993; Thorburn 1986).
In spite of the fact that “cultural tourists” have been common in
Europe for hundreds of years, it is only in the last two decades that
cultural and heritage tourism have been identified as specific
tourism markets. This recent upsurge is underlined by the assertion
of one German writer that the appearance of the term kulturtouris-
mus (cultural tourism) stems from the reunification of Germany in
1990 (Nahrstedt 199325). Heritage tourism has thus become a
tourism marketing and development “bandwagon” in Europe in
recent years.
Heritage tourism has been closely associated by many authors with
the rise of postmodern forms of tourism (Rojek 1993; Urry 1994).
Postmodern tourism is closely associated with a concern for image,
for authenticity, with differentiated markets and post-fordist, flexi-
ble patterns of production. The commodities produced for the
postmodern tourist include a wide range of convenient heritage
products. The consumption of heritage by postmodern tourists is also
closely associated with certain social groups and in particular the
“new middle class”, which Munt characterizes as the “producers and
consumers of postmodernism par excellence” ( 1994: 106).
Much of the analysis of the emergence of postmodern consump-
tion is based on the work of French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu
(1984). He argues that social classes struggle to distinguish
themselves from each other through education, occupation and
consumption of commodities, which also includes tourism consump-
tion (Munt 1994). The combination of accumulated social, educa-
tional and cultural capital of particular social groups forms a
distinctive “habitus” or class culture. On the basis of such an analy-
sis, Bourdieu is able to identify different factions within the
expanded middle class. The “new bourgeoisie” is high on economic
and cultural capital and consumes exclusive travel products and
ecotourism. In contrast, the “new petit bourgeoisie” or “new cultural
intermediaries”, are lower on economic capital, and therefore must
professionalize tourism consumption practices in order to create
employment opportunities for themselves. Munt argues that strug-
gles for cultural and class superiority between these factions are
responsible for many of the cultural and structural features of
modern tourism consumption, such as the distinction between
“traveler” and “tourist” and the spatial differentiation exemplified
in tourism development “off the beaten track”. In tourism, as in
other areas of consumption, there is a constant search for new
experiences and sources of stimulation that help to distinguish
particular social groups:
The sense of good investment which dictates a withdrawal from
outmoded, or simply devalued, objects, places or practices and a
move into ever newer objects in an endless drive for novelty, and
which operates in every area, sport and cooking, holiday resorts and
restaurants, is guided by countless indices and indications
(Bourdieu 1984: 249).
Bourdieu’s work is not only useful in understanding the structure
of tourism consumption, but has been more widely applied in the
analysis of cultural consumption. Bourdieu argues that cultural
capital, which acts as a form of distinction, also provides the basic
competencies necessary to interpret and consume cultural products.
It is not surprising, therefore, that Bourdieu’s work has also been
applied specifically in the field of heritage consumption, for example
by Merriman (1991) and Walsh (1991). The work of Merriman, for
example, shows that frequent museum visitors in the United
Kingdom predominantly come from higher-status groups and tend
to be well-educated. Museums are visited mainly by those who
possess the cultural capital necessary to decode them, a division
which Merriman sees as a cultural reflection of real class divisions.
On the basis of such evidence, Walsh (1991) argues that heritage
tourism is closely linked with the rise of “the new middle class” or
the “service class”. However, it is not simply the consumption of
heritage that is determined by the rise of the new middle class, but
also the production of heritage.
Heritage and “Real” Cultural Capital
The sociological analyses of tourism consumption that are inspired
by Bourdieu’s work can play an important role in understanding the
changing nature of tourism demand. However, some authors have
argued that the emphasis laid on consumption has tended to obscure
the relationship between patterns of consumption and production,
and in so doing often fails to capture the dynamics of change in
consumption patterns (Zukin 1990). Zukin argues that “much of the
experience of consumption today is highly mediated by new produc-
ers” (1991:45, emphasis in original). The search for authenticity, for
example, relies on a constant flow of reliable, authoritative infor-
mation (e.g. alternative travel guides, TV programs, etc.). As the
complexity of products and services on offer increases, furthermore,
so the amount of knowledge or self investment required also grows.
These “new producers” identified by Zukin belong to the same group
as the “new cultural intermediaries” of Bourdieu. This group seeks
to maintain its high level of cultural capital and to compensate for
low levels of economic capital through the pursuit of authenticity in
tourism. Through mediating authenticity, this group not only secures
its own position intellectually but also economically through the
creation of new employment opportunities, for example in
ecotourism (Munt 1994).
Recent studies by Harvey (1989), Zukin (1991), Britton (1991),
and Munt (1994) emphasize that cultural capital is not only a means
of personal distinction, but can also be an attribute of place. In order
to attract investment capital and the spending power of the middle
class, regions now differentiate themselves by emphasizing the
aesthetic qualities of material commodities and services that repre-
sent symbolic capital. Examples of this can be found in the use of
museums, monuments and other heritage attractions in regional
economic development strategies. Zukin (1991:28) argues that
culture as “a general way of life” is an “unalienable product of
place”, and that the cultural products of place are a physical form
of cultural capital (“real cultural capital”), which she contends is just
as important as symbolic forms of cultural capital.
Strategies of cultural consumption rely on effective demand
among new demographic and social actors. But just as they are
embedded in reflexive - or highly mediated and intellectualized
- consumption, so they reinforce self-conscious production. On
the supply side, cultural consumption creates employment for a
self-conscious critical infrastructure . . . and is in turn created by
its labor. Cultural consumption contributes to capital accumula-
tion, moreover, by enhancing profits on entrepreneurial invest-
ment in production and distribution (1991:260).
Therefore, cultural consumption affects not only symbolic values,
but also real values of capital accumulation and real estate devel-
opment. For Zukin, “cultural goods and services truly constitute real
capital-so long as they are integrated as commodities in the
market-based circulation of capital” (199 1:260). This close linkage
between cultural and economic values is reflected in phenomena
such as gentrification, where economic values attached to property
are protected and enhanced by the designation of conservation
zones, adding cultural value to economic value. This process is
closely bound up with the development of heritage tourism, partic-
ularly in historic city centers (Ashworth and Tunbridge 1990).
The issue addressed in this article is the extent to which the new
relationships between consumption and production identified by
Zukin and others can also be identified in the demand for and the
production of heritage tourism in Europe. In place of the
fragmented, nationally based approaches adopted in much previous
research, this article is based on a transnational analysis of cultural
and heritage tourism. Such an app,roach allows a fuller evaluation to
be made of the significance of heritage consumption and production
in relation to wider social and economic change.
The data presented in this article are derived from the European
Cultural Tourism Project established by the European Association
for Tourism and Leisure Education (ATLAS). This project was estab-
lished in 1991 with funding from the European Commission to estab-
lish a transnational database on cultural tourism. Details of the
project and the detailed research findings have been published
elsewhere (Bonink and Richards 1992; Richards 1993, 1994).
The data collected for the ATLAS project consist of two major
elements: a survey of cultural visitor characteristics and numbers
(demand), and a survey of cultural attractions (supply). The demand
data were collected through a questionnaire survey conducted in the
summer of 1992 at 26 cultural attractions in nine European Union
(EU) member states: France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, The
Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, United Kingdom. The summer period
was deliberately chosen as the peak tourism season, which would
yield a reasonable sample of international and domestic tourists. A
standard questionnaire covering visitor characteristics, purpose of
visit, length of stay and previous cultural tourism consumption was
drawn up by a multinational research team and translated into eight
different languages. This allowed international and domestic tourists
to be surveyed at all locations. The choice of locations was based on
the need to obtain a reasonable spread of different types of attrac-
tions, while maintaining some comparability among different
countries. In eight of the nine countries, at least one major site of
national or international importance was chosen alongside a smaller,
regional attraction. At each site a minimum of 200 visitor interviews
were collected, and the survey as a whole yielded over 6,400
completed interviews.
Baseline data on attendance levels at cultural and heritage attrac-
tions were collected from official sources in 11 of the 12 EU member
states. Although different collection methods and definitions make
direct comparison of these data difficult, the data within each
country are reasonably consistent, which makes it possible to
compare trends in visitor numbers. Data on the supply of attractions
on a European basis were derived from a study conducted for the
European Commission in 1988 (Irish Tourist Board 1988), and
trends for each country were derived from the visitor attraction data
used to compile visitor statistics. In each country, a case study of a
cultural heritage attraction was developed, analyzing the develop-
ment of an attraction and its consumption by tourists (e.g. Foley
The extent and complexity of the European heritage tourism
market mean that it is impossible to evaluate it fully from a single
survey. However, by combining survey data with longitudinal data on
attraction attendance, it was possible to obtain an aggregate view of
heritage trends in Europe, supplemented by information on the
composition of visitors to a sample of attractions. This sample should
not be viewed in any way as representative of the heritage tourism
market in Europe as a whole, but it does provide a snapshot on which
transnational comparisons can be made. Not only can visitor
patterns within a certain destination be examined, but the behavior
of heritage visitors from a particular origin country can be compared
(e.g. British tourists in France, Italy, Spain, etc.). This technique also
lends itself to regular updating for monitoring purposes.
Cultural and Heritage Tourism Consumption
In recent decades, there has been a significant increase in heritage
visits across Europe as a whole. Figures from the ATLAS database,
for example, indicate that heritage visits in Europe rose by 100%
between 1970 and 1991 (Figure 1). The pattern of growth in heritage
demand does show considerable variation from one country to
another, ranging from over 200% in the UK between 1970 and 1991,
through 130% in France, to only 18% in Italy. The low increase for
Italy can arguably be explained by the lack of heritage management
in a country that has Europe’s largest potential supply of heritage
attractions (Irish Tourist Board 1988). The fact that a significant
growth in heritage consumption is evident in all Western European
countries, and to a lesser extent in Eastern Europe as well, seems
to confirm the contention that the demand for heritage attractions
has risen as a result of the expansion of the “new middle class” or
“service class” during the last three decades (Walsh 1991:125).
70 75 80
Year 85 90
l Cultural Visits QCultural Attractions
Figure 1. Cultural Supply and Demand: European Indices (1985 = 100)
During this period, European heritage attendance has also grown
faster than arts attendance (e.g. theatre, ballet, opera). This is an
indication that the expansion of the “new middle class” audience for
heritage has outstripped the demand from the traditional upper
class consumers of the “high arts” (Hughes 1987). Comparison of
the survey evidence of recent years with surveys conducted in the
early 1960s (Bourdieu and Darbel 1991) indicates that the socioeco-
nomic profile of visitors to museums and other heritage attractions
has hardly changed in the last 30 years. The growth in demand is,
therefore, arguably based on quantitative growth in membership of
a class faction, rather than a qualitative shift in the composition of
heritage visitors.
The ATLAS cultural visitor research in 1992 to a large extent
confirmed the established picture of cultural tourists as comprising
predominantly well-educated members of higher socioeconomic
groups. Over 80% of respondents had some form of tertiary educa-
tion, and almost a quarter had been educated to postgraduate level.
The visitor surveys also confirmed the importance of tourists as
consumers of heritage. Of the 6,400 survey respondents, 57% could
be classified as international tourists, traveling from outside the
country in which the survey was being conducted. A further 28% of
respondents were domestic tourists, traveling within their own
country but staying away from home for at least one night. The high
level of tourist activity at these sites could in part be attributed to
the survey period coinciding with the peak summer season, and in
part to the fact that many of the sites surveyed were major inter-
national tourism attractions.
Of course, not all tourists visiting cultural or heritage attractions
can automatically be classified as cultural tourists. Many consume
cultural attractions as part of a wider tourism experience (such as a
beach holiday), and these tourists are not driven by any particular
cultural motives. The survey identilied tourists who had traveled
specifically to visit the cultural attraction, and who said that the
attraction was “important” or “very important” as a motivation for
their choice of destination (Bonink and Richards 1992). IJsing this
definition, 9% of all tourists could be identified as “specific cultural
tourists”. This group of tourists corresponds to the “specific cultural
tourists” identified by the Irish Tourist Board (1988) study and the
“culturally motivated tourist” identified by Bywater f 1994).
According to Bywater, this group only accounts for about 5% of the
total European cultural tourism market, although no empirical
evidence is provided to support this assertion, A large proportion of
the other cultural visitors could broadly be categorized as “general
cultural tourists”, who did not have a strong cultural motive for their
The specific cultural tourists were found to be not only more
frequent consumers of heritage attractions than other groups, but
they had a high level of total tourism consumption, particularly in
terms of short holiday trips. Over 40% of specific cultural tourists
had taken at least one short holiday (three nights or less) in the
previous 12 months, compared with 22% of all cultural visitors. A
high frequency of short break holiday participation is considered by
many to be one of the hallmarks of the cultural tourist @ache 1994;
Gratton,l990). The general cultural tourists tended to take less
holidays, particularly short breaks, and were generally older. The
cultural tourism consumption patterns of the two groups, in terms
of visits to heritage attractions during their stay, was, however, very
Cultural tourism consumption by the respondents seems to be
characterized by a high degree of continuity between everyday
leisure consumption and consumption patterns while on holiday. The
vast majority of cultural visitors indicated that visits to cultural
attractions on holiday were a reflection of cultural visits made in
their home country or region. In an earlier study of cultural tourism,
Hughes had noted that “it is not clear that those within the socio-
economic and demographic groups most likely to participate in the
high arts are also those most likely to participate in the high arts
on tourist trips” (1987:211). Th e evidence collected in the ATLAS
research suggests that across Europe as a whole, high levels of
cultural consumption at home are likely to be reflected in high levels
of cultural consumption on holiday. More important still is the fact
that cultural consumption is also likely to be related to employment
in the cultural industries.
Table 1 indicates that about 22% of all cultural visitors were
employed in heritage or the performing or visual arts. For specific
cultural tourists, the proportion having an occupational link with
the cultural industries rose to 29%. This is more than double the
level of cultural employment among general cultural tourists who
did not make a trip to the destination for cultural reasons (13%).
There was also a clear link between the sector of employment
within the cultural industries and the tourism consumption of
respondents. Those with a job in “heritage”, for example, were
Table 1. Proportion of Cultural Visitors Employed in the Cultural Industries
% Visitors
Employment Related to All Visitors General Cultural Specific Cultural
Tourists Tourists
Heritage/Museums I 3 9 18
Performing Arts 11 7 12
Visual Arts 14 10 17
Any of the Above* 18 13 29
“Kespondents could indicate more than ~nc category
more likely than other respondents to visit museums and heritage
centers on holiday, and employment in the visual or performing arts
was also correlated with a higher level of visits to visual or perform-
ing arts attractions on holiday. The level of cultural industry
employees from all countries engaging in cultural tourism appears
to be far higher than the general level of employment in cultural
occupations. For example, direct cultural industries employment in
the UK in 1993 was estimated to be less than 1% of the working
population (Policy Studies Institute 1993), and even if indirect
employment is included, the proportion only rises to about 2.4%
(Shaw 1991).
The picture that emerges of the specific cultural tourists in the
sample is that of highly educated individuals from higher socioeco-
nomic groups who are far more likely than other cultural visitors to
be employed in the cultural industries and who choose to consume
cultural attractions related to their economic activities. This
matches fairly closely the description of the “new cultural interme-
diaries” identified by Bourdieu (1984:91). The specific cultural
tourists are also younger and far more likely than other visitors to
be self-employed, strengthening the picture of an entrepreneurial
class faction. Survey evidence from the Netherlands also suggests
that these groups are characterized by young urban professionals,
predominantly living in the center of major cities, close to a wide
range of cultural facilities and possessing a high level of cultural
capital (Roetman 1994; Verhoeff 1994). What separates the specific
and general cultural tourists is not so much their patterns of
heritage consumption, but rather their level of involvement in
cultural production.
Therefore, participation in heritage tourism is not simply a search
for new experiences, but also a search for distinction based on a
complete lifestyle, as Bourdieu has argued for cultural consumption
in general. This has consequences for the spatial organization of
consumption and production. Munt (1994) has suggested that the
new middle class seek distinction in tourism consumption mainly
through travel to peripheral locations, as evidenced in the growth in
demand for adventure holidays and ecotourism. The research
conducted here indicates, however, that in the case of cultural and
heritage tourism the major urban centers of Europe have become a
crucial setting for the battle for distinction between different class
factions. This results from one of the key processes of contemporary
change identified by Urry- that of “resistance through localiza-
tion”. Urry argues that this leads to people “visiting places that in
particular are full of time, that draw people to them because they
are rich with time” (1994:236).
The Production of Heritage Attractions
Although the “heritage industry” is arguably a relatively recent
phenomenon, cultural tourism consumption, based on heritage and
artistic attractions, has a much longer history in Europe (Thorburn
1986). Before the late 18th century, collections of art and other
cultural products were basically the private property of princes and
nobles (Negrin 1993). As a result of the French Revolution, however,
art collections belonging to the royal family and the church were
confiscated. The conquests of Napoleon later ensured that works
from royal collections throughout Europe joined the French works
already assembled in the Louvre, the first national museum in
Europe. The Louvre was soon joined by other national museums
such as the Prado in Madrid and the Altes in Berlin. Whereas private
collections were based largely on the personal taste of the owner,
these new public museums were designed to provide comprehensive
collections spanning all epochs and cultures. “Underlying this
comprehensive assemblage of cultural artefacts was the notion of
world culture. European culture in the 19th century saw itself as a
universal culture, valid for all times and peoples” (Negrin 1993: 100).
This modernist concept of the expanded relevance of the past, and
the desire to assemble collections that underlined the inevitable
progress of history towards the superiority of the present (Horne
1984:29), was responsible for the first wave of expansion in cultural
production. The same forces of modernism that led to the creation
of the museum led later to the increasing designation of “historic
monuments” across Europe. Modernism implied a vast expansion of
the past that was considered relevant to the present (Negrin 1993),
and structures and buildings from all ages acquired relevance at the
same time, particularly in the service of the new nation states being
formed in Europe during the 19th century.
A second wave of expanded cultural production was created from
the 1960s onwards through the recycling and recombination of
cultural forms that marked the transition from modernism to
postmodernism. Postmodernism not only recycled the past, it also
expanded the range of time periods that were considered to form
part of our historic heritage. Thus, periods as recent as the 1950s
or the 1960s can now be regarded as “heritage”, whereas museums
had formerly looked towards the Renaissance or antiquity for their
historic justification. In addition to the burgeoning cultural produc-
tion stimulated by recycling the past and historifying the recent
past, postmodernism has also been marked by the emergence of new
interest groups and specialized markets. Museums can, therefore,
Table 2. Growth of Museums in the UK, 1860-1989
Year Total Number of Museums % Increase %/Annum
1860 90
1880 180 +100 5.0
1887 217 +21 3.0
1963 876 +303 4.0
1984 2,131 +143 6.8
1989 2,500 +17 3.4
Adapted from Law (1993) and Walsh (1991).
abandon the modernist project of universality in favor of market
segmentation and themeing.
The result has been a second “museums boom” in Europe. The
development of museum supply in the UK is illustrated in Table 2.
Even though the first expansion of museum supply in the second
half of the 19th century was fairly rapid, the museums boom of the
last 25 years produced an unprecedented increase in museum supply
from an already high base. Data collected by ATLAS show that this
trend was present throughout Europe from the 1970s to the present.
Figure 1 shows that the number of museums and monuments in six
European countries increased by 113% between 1970 and 1991. A
comparison of the patterns of heritage demand and supply indicates
an almost parallel growth of consumption and production until the
late 198Os, when the increase in new heritage attractions began to
outstrip the growth in heritage tourism visits.
The growth of specialized museums alongside the general collec-
tions enshrined in the national museums and galleries has been one
of the major forces behind the expansion of museum supply in
recent years. The number of museums in the Netherlands grew by
30% between 1985 and 1990 (CBS 1993), and the supply of museums
in Germany rose by 33% between 1986 and 1990. The new museums
are smaller than their forebears and are more commercially orien-
tated. Examples of new specialist museums can be found in London
(Museum of the Moving Image, Theatre Museum, Design Museum),
in Amsterdam (Sex Museum, Cannibis Museum) and many other
cities across Europe (Urry 1990).
The rapid growth in the number of museums has opened a new
debate about precisely what type of institutions ought to be consid-
ered as museums. In the UK, the Museums and Galleries
Commission has introduced a new registration system with strict
qualifying criteria. The effect of this is likely to be a reduction in
the number of museums in the UK from about 2,500 to around
2,000 officially registered establishments (Eckstein 1993). In the
Netherlands, the Director of the Dutch Museums Association
(NW) suggested in 1993 that new criteria should be established
to stop “ego-tripping collectors” from setting up “silly museums”
with no professional basis. He cited the establishment of the Mata-
Hari Museum and the Cigarette Lighter Museum as examples.
This underlines the point that the diversity and provenance of
museums have changed rapidly in recent years, as new market
opportunities have been identified and new interpretations of the
role of museums have begun to compete with the old (NRIT
A second force behind the heritage production boom in recent
years has been the development of attractions related to regional
and local cultures. Just as the rise of nationalism was an important
stimulus for heritage development in the 19th century, so regional-
ism is proving an important spur to heritage production today. The
disintegration of the notion of a universal European culture,
together with the decline of uniform national cultures, have
increased the range of regional and local cultures that can be
presented as heritage. “In the Europe of the regions, a continent
that is undeniably becoming more fragmented, there is particular
attention being paid to the geographic origin of artists and their
cultural identity. Differences are increasingly being emphasized”
(Depondt 1994:l). In the UK, for example, the notion that one
national museum for a particular subject is sufficient is now being
challenged with the creation of regional versions of the Tate Gallery
and the Science Museum. In the Netherlands, individual provinces
are now drawing up plans for the development of cultural-historic
tourism, which include regional versions of the European “City of
Culture” event (Munsters 1994).
In spite of the development of the postmodern heritage industry
and the resurgence of regionalism in Europe, heritage consumption
seems to remain firmly rooted in the traditional urban tourism
centers. This owes much to the history of capital accumulation in
these centers. Capital tends to seek out geographic locations that
maximize the rate of return (Harvey 1989), and wealthy regions
have always created material displays of their wealth and power
through the construction of impressive buildings or monuments. In
the Renaissance, however, political leaders discovered the advan-
tages of using the high cultural forms associated with antiquity to
justify their own position. The artistic and architectural creativity
of the north Italian cities in the 16th century, Claval (1993) argues,
was in part stimulated by Italian princes anxious to secure power
in an’ uncertain political climate. Claval also contrasts the
monumental capitals of Baroque cities with the cities of more
spartan capitals of Calvinist countries. Amsterdam, the archetypal
Calvinist city, today suffers from a lack of major monuments to
attract tourists in comparison with Paris, London or the Italian
cities (see Table 3).
The spatial distribution of major cultural tourism resources
indicates the continuing importance of mediaeval and renaissance
cities in the European heritage tourism industry. Concentrations of
cultural attractions are found mainly in capital cities and important
cities dating from the 14-16th centuries. Thus, Flanders accounts
for four of the live Belgian cities with more than 10 attractions in
the inventory, and northern Italy has six cities with more than 10
attractions. In the Netherlands, Denmark, Greece, Ireland and
Portugal, only the capital cities can muster more than 10 listed
Table 3. Cities with More than 10 Cultural Attractions Listed in the European
Community Inventory of Cultural Tourism Resources
Location International National Regional Total
United Kingdom
West Germany
2 13 9 24
9 47 28 84
- 7 3 10
4 10 2 16
4 8 11 23
1 2 7 10
13 11 3 27
6 5 6 17
1 3 13 17
1 2 7 10
0 1 10 11
1 2 I 10
22 30 51 101
2 3 8 13
3 7 3 13
2 8 12 20
6 6 14
20 16 44
4 2 I1
6 3 10
_ 8 20 32
2 13 15
3 9 12
2 9 11
4 5 10
12 8 24
6 7 13
Source: Irish Tourist Board (1988).
attractions. As van der Borg (1994:832) notes, “classic” cultural
tourism destinations in Europe overwhelmingly consist of capital
All the indications are that the areas that accumulated consider-
able “real cultural capital” during the Renaissance and the forma-
tion of modern nation-states have continued to benefit from this
position, as heritage centers “rich with time” (Urry 1994:236). In the
UK, for example, even though there has been a significant increase
in heritage attraction supply outside London, the bulk of all
heritage-related investment has been concentrated in the capital.
Figures from the English Tourist Board (1991) indicate, for example,
that a doubling in the value of heritage attraction investment
between 1986 and 1991 was accompanied by a growing concentra-
tion of investment in London and Southeast England, from 69% of
all reported heritage investment in 1986 to 75% in 1991. These two
regions also accounted for over half of the visits to cultural tourism
attractions in England in 1992 (ETB 1993). Similar patterns are
found in other European countries. In the Netherlands, for example,
Amsterdam has about 5% of the Dutch population but houses 26%
of all designated historic monuments and accounts for 24% of all
museum visits (CBS 1993).
The “new” heritage attractions do not seem to have been success-
ful in replacing the traditional centers of heritage tourism produc-
tion. As Townsend concludes for the UK:
The growth of new kinds of urban tourism and museums has been
relatively unsuccessful. What this British study shows is that
beneath the promotion and propaganda, the most successful urban
sites are the pre-industrial ones; that is even in a European country
which had the earliest Industrial Revolution and a more modest
pattern of earlier historical architecture (1992:p32).
The important advantage that the pre-industrial sites have is the
presence of sedimented real cultural capital. It is this cultural
capital that is unlocked and exploited by the “new producers”
(Zukin 1991) or the “new cultural intermediaries” (Bourdieu
1984). This key group of cultural producers and consumers is
strongly represented in the centers of old cities, close to the sites
of cultural consumption and real cultural capital production
(Verhoeff 1994).
The classificatory struggles between different factions of the
middle class that are played out in contemporary tourism consump-
tion are, therefore, not purely restricted to exclusive, spatially
remote peripheral locations, as suggested by Munt (1994).
Exclusivity can also be generated through symbolically distinctive
consumption, even in central locations. The requirement to possess
a certain level of cultural capital in order to participate in heritage
consumption (Walsh 199 1) ensures that heritage consumption is
socially as well as spatially constrained.
The analysis of heritage market demand in Europe seems to
indicate that heritage tourism, in common with other areas of
cultural participation, has been stimulated largely by increasing
levels of income and education levels signaled by the emergence of
the new middle class. Even though a significant expansion in
heritage consumption has taken place since the 1970s the socioeco-
nomic and educational profiles of heritage visitors seem to have
changed relatively little. Access to heritage is still controlled to a
large extent by the availability of cultural capital or the competence
required to consume cultural goods. There is arguably, however, a
key difference in the welfare-related cultural expansion of the 1960s
and 1970s and the market-driven expansion of the 1980s (Bianchini
and Parkinson 1993). In spite of the “heritage boom” of the 198Os,
attendance growth was actually slower than in the previous decade
(Figure 1). The supply of cultural attractions, however, grew much
more strongly in the 1980s with the result that average attendance
per heritage attraction actually fell in some countries during this
period (Richards 1994). In the “heritage boom” of the 198Os, there-
fore, it was the emergence of smaller, more commercial attractions
that distinguished this period from the “cultural boom” of the
earlier post-war period (Toffler 1964).
There are signs, also, of differential patterns of heritage attrac-
tion consumption emerging among heritage tourists. A relatively
small group of “specific cultural tourists” are among the heaviest
consumers of heritage attractions, both in the home environments
and on holiday. The specific cultural tourists are also able to ratio-
nalize their motives for cultural consumption much more clearly
than other cultural visitors, and they tend to have a much higher
level of cultural capital (Roetman 1994). Even more significant is
the strong link between the high level of employment in the cultural
industries among this group and the specific choice of heritage
attractions linked to their employment. This indicates that the
tourism consumption engaged in by these specific cultural tourists
is part of a lifestyle in which the boundaries between work and
leisure, production and consumption, are becoming increasingly
The temporal continuity of consumption between leisure and work
time is also reflected in a spatial continuity between the location of
work and leisure. Although some have identified class factions whose
leisure consumption is based on an escape from urban areas into
rural environments (Urry 1994), the specific cultural tourist seems
firmly anchored to major urban centers. These urban centers are the
same as those in which the new cultural intermediaries live and work
(Verhoeff 1994; Wy nne 1992). MacCannell (1993) suggests that, in
postmodernity, urban centers are now the major locations of differ-
ence, a resource on which tourism thrives. Those with the cultural
capital to appreciate and exploit these differences can create new
opportunities for themselves through the development of tourism
(Odermatt 1994).
In order to capitalize on their productive activities, the new
cultural intermediaries must have a sufficiently large pool of
consumers. Munt suggests that Bourdieu’s “new bourgeoisie” fulfills
this function in tourism, being “firmly located in the service sector
with finance, marketing and purchasing as occupational exemplars,
a class faction high on both economic capital (finance) and cultural
capital. It is with the new bourgeoisie that taste and travel unite and
are celebrated” (1994:107). These are the tourists who would seem
to conform most closely to the traditional image of the cultural
tourist as older, wealthier and well educated (Berroll 1981), and who
fit the profile of the “general cultural tourist” identified in the
survey research (Richards 1994). I n contrast, the “specific cultural
tourists” are more likely to be young, self-employed and with an
occupation related to culture, a profile closer to that of the “new
cultural intermediaries” (Bourdieu 1984).
The growing competition between “cities” for cultural tourism in
Europe (Bianchini and Parkinson 1993; van der Borg 1994) can thus
also be seen as the struggle for social position being played out on
a transnational scale. As state subsidies are removed from cultural
institutions and the potential for increased domestic cultural
consumption through the expansion of education declines, so more
visitors are needed to sustain the cultural infrastructure. Attracting
more visitors requires even more effective use of the “real cultural
capital” attached to an area and a greater emphasis on local differ-
ence. It is the new cultural intermediaries who possess the neces-
sary skills and cultural competence to manufacture commodities for
consumption by the new bourgeoisie.
In such a system of “organized culture” (Bevers 1993:163), much
of the cultural, social and economic benefit attached to cultural
tourism development is retained by those who work and invest in
cultural production. In some cases, the development of cultural
tourism forms almost a closed circuit, with events and attractions
provided for the professional culture consumer by the professional
culture producer, with little reference to the local population. This
was arguably the case in the Glasgow “European City of Culture”
event in 1990, which staged a series of high culture events with little
reference to the rich local culture of Glasgow itself (Boyle and
Hughes 1991). The event aimed to attract wealthy tourists from
London and the Southeast, who would generate the most income for
the city and provide the most jobs (Myerscough 199 1). Glasgow 1990,
therefore, became a means of developing the “real cultural capital”
of the city, which is engaged in a fierce battle with Edinburgh for
cultural supremacy (and tourism business) in Scotland. This compet-
itive struggle is played out not so much between the two cities as
between particular class factions located in those cities.