The development of cultural tourism: A review of UK experience

Yi De Liu*, Chi Fan Lin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


This paper aims to identify commonalities in the successful development of cultural tourism in the UK that may be applied to other cities with similar contextual characteristics for cultural tourism development. It is also presented as a baseline for further comparative analysis. By examining and comparing the strategies of four major cities (i.e. London, Edinburg, Glasgow and Liverpool) with abundant experience in developing cultural tourism, it is found that London and Edinburgh, with an established cultural base and a large amount of 'real cultural capital', have managed to derive considerable economic benefit from its existing cultural facilities through developing cultural tourism. On the contrary, in Glasgow and Liverpool, the lack of an existing cultural base necessitated a strategy of investing continuously in new cultural attractions and events, and need to pay proportionately far more efforts than London and Edinburgh. Some implications are drawn for those cities tend to use cultural tourism for economic and tourism development. First, heritage resources are usually place-dependent, whereas art production and consumption is relatively place-independent. For those new destinations trying to overcome the dominance of the existing cultural capitals, they may focus on drama, musical performances or art displays those have higher mobility. Second, having culture is not enough. It is important to understand the needs of the cultural tourist, particularly in terms of the growing need to mix different cultural forms, such as 'high' and 'popular' culture, and 'learning' and 'fun'. Third, the event of the European Capitals of Culture is probably a good example of the new trends of cultural tourism. For instance, the brand created for Glasgow and Liverpool as European Capital of Culture status are set to last over and beyond the year of the event itself. However, care should be taken in the development of such event-based strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)363-376
Number of pages14
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Case study
  • Cultural tourism
  • Developing strategy
  • United Kingdom

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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