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A Partnership to Preserve America

Heritage Tourism

By the Honorable Gale A. Norton, Secretary of the Interior

Reprinted with permission, National Trust Forum, National Trust for Historic Preservation, 1785 Massachusetts Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20036, (202) 588-6053, www.nationaltrust.org

An important part of the Preserve America initiative is to help communities preserve their story and develop heritage tourism programs.

A new study from the Travel Industry Association of America and Smithsonian Magazine shows a remarkable 81 percent of U.S. adults who traveled in the past year are considered historic/cultural travelers. This is up 13 percent from 1996. In fact, for 30 percent of these travelers, their destination choice was influenced by a specific historic or cultural event. The study also determined that these travelers spend more money compared to the average U.S. traveler and stay longer at their destinations.

Heritage tourism serves a dual purpose of bolstering economies while teaching Americans more about their shared past.

Why is heritage tourism important? There is an increasing homogenization of our world where every mall guarantees you the same fast food restaurants and the same clothing chain stores. If you find a clothing item in Virginia, there is a good chance you can find the same item in Oregon. What is the draw to travel, to see something new, if it is all the same?

It is amazing and hopeful to me that there is an increased interest among citizens to establish what is unique about their home communities.

2004 - Volume 35, Issue 1

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