Cultural Tourism in a Global Economy: The search for Local Authenticity


por Juan Carlos Belloso

Cultural Tourism in a Global Economy. BOP

Cultural tourism requires careful curation and investment in the cultural assets and life of a town or city. Such investment not only enhances the experience for the tourist but also the liveability of the place, and in turn creates jobs and, if successful, reinforces the dynamics of a strong service economy. To achieve this balance cultural destinations must prioritise the physical, the social and the digital. They must also manage the tension of retaining and projecting local authenticity in an increasingly global and virtual world.

An important dimension of the trend in cultural tourism is where it confronts technological trends in the experience economy. This dimension is intensified by the innovation and experimentation that is taking place in China. This report will explore the nature of the Chinese cultural tourism offer, highlighting where cultural experiences are created in a powerful authentic local offer, but also where it is intensified through the virtual, augmented and the immersive.

This report has been commissioned by the historical town of Anren in the region of Sichuan, China and therefore gives special focus to Anren. It explores the featured town, including the Jianchuan museum cluster, and reflects on the importance of the town as a pioneering cultural tourism destination in the China context. The report offers recommendations for partners in Anren on future development and how to highlight best practice lessons for other cultural town initiatives across China.

In reviewing these trends and surveying cultural attractions and towns around the world, we have concluded that the town of Anren is a leading cultural innovator in tourism both domestically and internationally. Anren su#culturaltourism digital technology. In this respect Anren has a leading role among Chinese cities in reinventing the cultural tourism experience. It has significant potential to grow in attracting further international attention.

The report has also been commissioned by OCT Group, who are not only developing Anren but are leading the next phase of the transformation of China’s tourism infrastructure. The group is investing significantly across China to develop the country’s tourism experience to world-class standards thereby capturing the growth potential of the domestic tourism market and creating cultural experiences with international appeal.

A group of international experts from tourism, culture and branding have contributed to this report, a number of them visiting Anren and sharing their expertise and recommendations with local officials, cultural entrepreneurs and tourism providers.