Cultural Tourism Experiences : A Development Framework

Roseline Dalton

Research output: Types of ThesisMaster's Thesis

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Unique and memorable experiences are crucial for the long-term sustained differentiation of the tourism sector (ITIC, 2006; Fáilte Ireland, 2007). Much attention has been centred upon indigenous cultural tourism as a panacea for revitalising and enhancing the wider services sector of the national economy. Indeed, evidence suggests that the experience value of tourism products is the overriding factor influencing customers‘ motivation to visit attractions (Brunner Sperdin and Peters, 2009). Prior research indicates a lack of theory relating to the nature of experiences and the experience development process (Fitzsimmons and Fitzsimmons 2000; Morgan, et al., 2009). This study aims to close this extant knowledge gap by enhancing our understanding of the nature of cultural tourism experiences and the process by which they can be developed. To achieve this aim, a critical review of literature in the product, service, experience and tourism arenas generated a conceptual framework for the development of cultural tourism experiences. Through the adoption of a qualitative case study of a best practice cultural tourism organisation, the study was able to explore both the nature of cultural tourism experiences and the manner by which they are developed in practice, leading to a refined framework. The major outcome of the study is an experience framework that defines, identifies and articulates the elements of cultural tourism experiences and offers a pragmatic “how to” framework that provides understanding and guidance of the stages and activities of the experience development process. Notably, the study posits learning as the core activity of cultural tourism and emotional outcomes as the core value delivered. Practitioners must create learning opportunities which reinforce personal values and facilitate a range of emotional outcomes based on an understanding of visitors‘ deeper and emotional needs. This study also highlights the equal importance of three types of interaction that stimulate experiences: experience provider to tourist, tourist to tourist and tourist to context. Hence, cultural tourism organisations need to design and offer activities which encourage visitor interaction and active participation to personally create experiences. From a theoretical standpoint, this research has advanced tourism experience literature by delineating the elements that comprise a cultural tourism experience namely, contextual, interactional and emotional outcomes and enhances understanding of the experience development process. The framework clarifies the true nature of cultural tourism experiences and makes a significant contribution to cultural tourism practice as it offers practitioners a pragmatic and implementable process framework to develop new tourism offerings which are capable of generating unique and memorable experiences. From a theoretical standpoint, this research has shown that cultural tourism experiences are no longer ambiguous and abstract.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Lally, Anne Marie, Supervisor
  • Lynch, Patrick, Supervisor
Publication statusUnpublished - 2011


  • Cultural tourism


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