Eleven Trends and Action Calls for 2011

After a wild year of shake-ups, consolidations, and more, we’re looking ahead to a strong 2011 in the entire field of culture and the arts. Starting today, we’re offering our eleven trend projections for everyone in the field of cultural development, audience growth, and arts institutions.

December 27: 2011 Trend One. Cultural Tourism will return, bigger and wider and better than ever.. What, you say it never left? It did, and it has stumbled over the past few years.

Cultural tourism gave way as a top focus for destination tourism about six years ago to eco and green tourism, which motivated visitors and entire conventions to select green destinations, and led major destinations to focus on the green that could be found in their downtowns, districts, and more. Walkable tours, bicycling through cities, knowing that hotels were LEED certified, visiting LEED buildings – all this (and it is great stuff, don’t get me wrong) was promoted while culture took a back seat.

Word from tourism pros is that green is still very important, but that even the green-est of visitors are asking “So now that we have seen the green, where’s the culture?” and, “Is that all the culture that’s here? There must be more?”

Now that’s a challenge when it comes to delivering “comprehensive culture” in calendars and web sites. I don’t know about you, but I am frustrated even by many of the best visitor and resident oriented cultural and events one-stop-shopping calendars/marketing sites in these post-print days. There are turf wars in most US major markets – the arts and museums and passive recreation belong on one web site (so they feel) while commercial entertainment and pro sports go to their own sites (they don’t feel they should be picking up the tab toward supporting nonprofit culture) and tourism web pages pick up the pieces and try to bring the full local story together. In many (most) cases ticket sales take you off to another calendar, sometimes not to return. Some have names that don’t even turn up in most searches.

Does it work? No. The overall snapshot of the city or regional destination suffers from a series of one-sided views from each of the competing web sites, and the duplication in effort is ridiculous.

So, with my trend projection that cultural tourism will return as a top travel motivator comes my action call: PLEASE, let’s get really comprehensive web sites and calendars, with great instant ticketing embedded, that encourages visitors and locals alike to get involved with all that culture is. Yes, that includes sports, entertainment, architecture, food and beverages, everything arts, cultural, museums, parks, zoos, science, history, heritage, local hot spots and local legendary stops, shopping, buildings on the National Register, recreation, neighborhoods and cool places – in sum, really, really comprehensive.

2011: Bring back the culture in tourism marketing, and make it bigger and more interesting than ever.

Tomorrow: Trend Two.

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