Academic journal article European Journal of Tourism Research

Cultural Tourism and Quality of Life: Results of a Longitudinal Study

Academic journal article European Journal of Tourism Research

Cultural Tourism and Quality of Life: Results of a Longitudinal Study

Article excerpt


In 2002, Indianapolis formed the Indianapolis Cultural Development Commission and embarked on a cultural tourism initiative. One of the first projects of the Commission was the creation of the Cultural Districts Program to facilitate the cultural development of six distinct neighborhoods that offered a unique mix of arts, cultural and hospitality activities. The development of these six neighborhoods was designed to share the authentic and diverse character of Indianapolis and its people with residents and visitors alike. The initiative also helped to increase public art in the downtown area. The main goal of this program was to improve the quality of life (QOL) of its residents through the promotion and creation of cultural offerings in the greater Indianapolis area.

Increasingly, many cities evaluate the impact of cultural tourism solely as a driver of future economic growth. However, the full picture of the impact of cultural tourism upon urban environments is not well understood. The overall purpose of this longitudinal study was to evaluate non-economic measures for the city of Indianapolis before full implementation of the initiative and to create a baseline index to determine the relationship between the level of awareness, importance and impact of the cultural tourism initiative and residents' perceived QOL rating. The project started in 2003 with the research team hosting a town hall meeting to discuss the new Indianapolis cultural tourism initiative and a series of papers have been published that include findings on city services that predict successful tourism development (Avgoustis, Cecil, Fu, & Wang, 2005 & 2007) and comparison studies of impact of cultural tourism upon residents' QOL (Wang, Cecil, Fu, & Avgoustis, 2006 & 2008).

The QOL of an urban population is an important concern in achieving economic prosperity through tourism development. There are many components involved in measuring an urban residents' QOL; however, a focus tends to be on residents' standard of living, the amount of money earned, and their access to goods and services. These statistics are easily recorded, measured, and evaluated. Other statistics that attempt to measure alternative dimensions of urban living, such as mental and physical happiness, culture, and environmental health and safety are far more difficult to measure. This has created an inevitable imbalance, as programs and policies are created to fit the easily available economic numbers while ignoring the other measures.

The nature of this longitudinal project has focused on three primary objectives:

1. To measure QOL dimensions using Raphael, Steinmetz, and Renwick's (1998) model - "being", "becoming" and "belonging"

2. To examine awareness and value of cultural tourism in Indianapolis

3. To evaluate the relationship of awareness and value of cultural tourism and the resident's overall QOL ratings.

Literature review

Cultural Tourism

High quality and diverse cultural offerings raise a city's profile and attract inward investment resulting in positive economic impact (Law, 2002). Cultural attractions such as museums, art galleries, theaters, festivals, and convention centers draw leisure and business tourists to a city. People who live in smaller places have to travel to a city to experience culture amenities, facilities and events that are not available in their local places.

Cultural tourism is growing with the changing travel trends and tourist demographics. Tourists are currently taking shorter vacations, mainly in urban destinations, and a more sophisticated and educated tourist is emerging. According to Cabrini (2003) Europe continues to attract increasing numbers of tourists to its cultural locations. The European Commission reported 20% of European tourists are responding to cultural motivations, while 60% of European tourists are interested in cultural discovery during their stay. …

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