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Travelling to discover: cultural tourism

Since the dawn of tourism, or at least since mass tourism came to be, the idea of travelling has been cloaked in this almost miraculous aura, which makes the choice to leave (suddenly) a sort of magic potion, a cure of all evils. Of course, the idea that a journey can solve any discomforting situation is pretty commonplace. Yet, if you want to live a life authentically devoted to well-being, you can’t exclude going on a journey from your routine. But there is a new way of travelling that is becoming more and more widespread: cultural tourism.

Cultural tourism: a new idea of travel

Already in 2017, a report by the World Tourism Organisation predicted that tourism services linked to the world of culture would define the new scenario of world tourism more oriented to cultural tourism. From cities to historical streets, from artistic events to intercultural experiences: an unprecedented desire for authenticity emerged. Some people have assumed that this trend stemmed from a renewed need to create personal connections, born out of a society increasingly connected and increasingly lonely, something which we all read too often.
But beyond simplistic explanations, the fact that for some years people have been constantly looking for creative ways to dive in foreign cultures is undeniable. Hence, the boom in cultural or experiential tourism and the appearance of the much more recent transformative travel, which in their own right have made their entry into the great family of cultural tourism.

What is cultural tourism?

Cultural tourism is an idea of tourism related to the culture of a specific region or country. The interest is aimed at getting in touch with elements that characterize a specific geographical area or population such as history, art, architecture, cuisine.

When you wish to travel to attend an event, to get in touch with a culture different from your own, to visit places and architectural sites particularly significant for the identity of a people, what you a looking for is an experience of cultural tourism. Above all, understanding that the journey is also a learning opportunity is what makes those who choose an experience of this type true addicted to cultural tourism.

Cultural tourists travel guided by a deep motivation: when they travel, they know exactly why they do it and why they have chosen a particular destination. They have very clear in mind what they hope to get from the trip, which is obviously much more than a simple opportunity for recreation.

It is no coincidence, then, that cultural tourism very often goes hand in hand with sustainable tourism: travelling motivated and self-aware is undoubtedly the best approach to support tourism aimed at strengthening the native identity of your destination of choice, as well as to take visitors beyond the narrow perimeter of the "must see" attractions.
On the other hand, the desire to establish an authentic connection with the natives can only lead to the desire to leave a positive impact, and is this not the fundamental principle of sustainability?

Cultural tourism and solo travel

In parallel with the rise of cultural tourism, another trend has recently marked the global tourism industry: that of solo travelling. Travelling alone, an ancient and really hard to kill taboo. As reported by an article published by The Telegraph, according to the 2018 ABTA annual report, 1 out of 9 tourists opted for a solo holiday in the 12 months preceding the survey, a number doubled compared to the data of 2012. Online searches with "travel only" keywords have increased by 143% in three years in the UK, and the social network photo Pinterest showed an increase of 600% in 2018 alone. Airbnb's hotel and accommodation booking figures confirm the trend.
Are the two trends linked? It's easy to imagine so. After all, what are the main reasons for travelling alone? Meeting new people, rediscovering yourself. So, what about those still thinking about having a cultural tourism experience? Well, those who have tried it have no doubt: the more you get in touch with people from different cultures and the more they get in touch with you, the easier it is to realize that you have learned something new about others, but above all about yourself.

Cultural tourism: why it is a great idea

It might have happened that sometimes you are tired, stressed, overwhelmed by the thoughts and problems of everyday life. At the same time, you lack the incentives to continue with the enthusiasm that has always distinguished you, you do not see the prospect of change approaching. What can you do to fix the situation? Go on a journey, of course. As countless studies have demonstrated that a journey has an extraordinarily positive effect on the body and the spirit: it reduces stress, it stimulates the production of serotonin and the formation of new neurological pathways and it improves problem solving skills and lateral thinking, which in turn mounts to a significant improvement in work performance.

Therefore, there is some truth to the idea of "disconnecting from the rest of the world to recharge" and the fascination it exerts. Nonetheless a journey, especially in recent years, means much more than this: more and more people seek to go on a journey first and foremost for the experience of personal enrichment, a way to get to know places, people, cultures and, most importantly, to discover themselves.

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