Heritage tourism means traveling to experience the places and activities that authentically represent the stories and people of the past, and to enhance the present.
Travel and tourism last year contributed $582 billion to the U.S. economy. It is the third largest retail industry in the U.S and directly employs more than 7.8 million people. It indirectly supports another 11.5 million jobs, creating a total of 19 million jobs. That's 1 of every 8 people in the U.S.
In addition to creating new jobs, new business and higher property values, heritage tourism improves the quality of life and builds community pride. According to a 1997 Report on Cultural and Historic Tourism, visitors to historic sites and cultural attractions stay longer and spend more money than other kinds of tourists. Cultural and heritage visitors spend, on average, $615 per trip compared to $425 for all travelers in the United States, and they spend an average of 4.7 nights away from home as compared to 3.3 nights for all other travelers. The economic impact of heritage tourism should be of great interest to our city and its leaders.
More than half of U.S. states has established statewide heritage or cultural tourism programs compared to virtually none a decade ago, according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
"Today's traveler has high expectations, which is why heritage tourism has become so popular," said Richard Moe, president of the National Trust, "Heritage tourism provides educational, entertaining experiences unrivaled by any other form of travel. It significantly impacts local economies and helps preserve historic places."
One of the greatest benefits of cultural heritage tourism is the diversification of local economies and the preservation of a community's unique character. Heritage tourism helps put the focus on the quality and authenticity of a city. It is an economical tool we can use to preserve and protect our precious historic resources.
It is to this end that SOHO's appeal to the Padres on the Ballpark project was so compelling. By preserving and incorporating the historic warehouse district in their design it would provide a richer cultural experience for visitors and residents alike, an experience that a new development, however well done, could not provide.
As our Executive Director touches on in this issue, new developments appear each day in our cities, most of which are cookie cutter images of each other. It is only when we use the identifying characteristics of our city's heritage that we are able to reflect that uniqueness and promote tourism in a way that benefits our community.
The issue of heritage tourism will be just one of the subjects discussed at our Regional Preservation Conference next year.
Statistics cited are from The National Trust for Historic Preservation Heritage Tourism program.
MORE FROM THIS ISSUE
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Baton Passes to SOHO for Neon Majorette
Old San Diego Police Headquarters
Executive Director Report
Hotel Del Coronado Continuing Saga
Historic Hotel San Diego Awaits the Wrecking Ball
Threat to Agua Caliente
We Called it Caliente
County Historic Site Board Reinstated
Mills Act Notice
Volunteer Appreciation Party
Aztec Brewery Art & Artifact Ensemble
Heritage Park Gets a Facelift
The Ranch House
The Whaley House
Help Furnish the Whaley House
Volunteers Make the Difference
Whaley House Garden Update
SOHO Museum Shop at the Whaley House Grand Opening
Welcome Ranger Berry
Letter to the Editors
Contributors to Success
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