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Partnering to Promote Heritage Tourism in Local Communities: Guidance for Federal AgenciesarrowDefining Heritage Tourism

Defining Heritage Tourism

Section 7 of Executive Order 13287 defines heritage tourism as:

the business and practice of attracting and accommodating visitors to a place or area based especially on the unique or special aspects of that locale’s history, landscape (including trail systems), and culture.

This is the definition of heritage tourism that Federal agencies should use, since it is embodied in the Executive Order, but be aware that there are variant definitions in general use. Also, the term “cultural heritage tourism” is sometimes used. The following is a sampling of how national preservation organizations and State Historic Preservation Offices define heritage tourism.

  • Cultural heritage tourism is “traveling to experience the places and activities that authentically represent the stories and people of the past and present. It includes historic, cultural and natural resources." (National Trust for Historic Preservation,
  • “Heritage tourism focuses on the story of people and places told through interpretation of cultural landscapes and preservation or restoration of historic structures.” (National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers,
  • “Heritage tourism is travel directed toward experiencing the heritage of a city, region, state or country. This travel enables the tourist to learn about, and be surrounded by, local customs, traditions, history and culture.” (Texas Historical Commission, )
  • “An activity in which people enjoy the discovery of a place's unique identity derived from its history. . . A form of tourism based upon the enhancement and protection of cultural resources as an element of tourism resources.” (Utah State Historical Society,

Updated March 3, 2006

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