I define cultural tourism as a form of active tourism which seeks to enrich individuals while strengthening the cultural heritage of local communities. As a consultant on cultural development and promotion, I often encounter key officials in the realm of tourism. I have understood through time and personal experiences that the quality of tourism and its offers does not simply rely on a country’s resources. It also relies on the demand of today’s tourist.
I decided to write this article to help you look for better activities as a tourist. Here I propose cultural activities as a main backbone to your travel and discoveries.
It is quite unfortunate that certain countries in the Mediterranean have acquired the reputation that they offer, how shall we put it delicately, ‘love-related’ tourist attractions. This is also the case for many Asian countries. I acknowledge this form of tourism exists and is mostly linked to poverty other than ‘local cultural practices’. These same countries, on the other hand, are paradises on earth for quality tourism.
For a cultural view of a country, I recommend the following 5 activities:
1. Visit local landscapes. Such can be sacred places, often linked to ritual practices. It gives you both a glimpse of local people and local customs. One of my favourites is Mt. Agung in Bali. You will feel such a strong local vide and new spiritual horizons.
2. Take the opportunity to stroll around artisan quarters in old towns. My all-time favorite is the soap-making ateliers in Nablus, Palestine. It produces the best soap ever, related to Damascus soap making. You will learn soap-making and acquire some treasures for home, while strengthening a local trade practiced for 1,000 years now.
3. Every country has food specialties. I love Turkish ice-cream, otherwise referred to as ‘dondurma’ salep flavor. Try these varieties and admire them. Soon you will be getting free samples. This ice-cream is cut with a knife!
4. Visit a local music event. I suggest to stay away from the tourist-oriented concerts, they can get cheesy. My most intense musical experience was outside a traditional Greek coffee place. A few locals had gathered and played improvisations on the bouzouki instrument. I danced all night! I even learned some myself!
5. Participate in a local sport. I did make a fool of myself trying to play rugby in India and laughed at myself as never before. The locals appreciated it so much, I got invited over for curry dinner every evening!
As in all my articles, I encourage you to make a difference in the way you approach tourism for yourself and others. Go out of the ordinary way to spend an extraordinary vacation.