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Cultural tourism has been identified as one of the most important areas of global tourism demand. The importance of this market has created a need for information on the characteristics, behaviour and motivations of cultural tourists. Over the past 30 years, the ATLAS Cultural Tourism Research Programme has monitored this through visitor surveys and studies of cultural tourism policies and suppliers. Successive surveys have illustrated how rapidly this market is developing.

This site provides an overview of the research programme, information on how to participate and publications from previous research.

About the project

The Cultural Tourism Research Programme was launched in 1991, with the support of the European Commission. The research focused originally on visitors to cultural attractions in the European Union, but the scope of the research gradually broadened into a global study of cultural tourism.

 The original aims of the research programme were to:

  • devise definitions of the nature and scope of cultural tourism;

  • collect data on cultural tourism visits to European attractions;

  • assess the profile and motivations of cultural tourists;

  • develop case studies of cultural tourism management.

For 30 years, the ATLAS project has continued collecting and disseminating information on cultural tourism. Several waves of consumer research have been undertaken, yielding over 50,000 interviews and surveys on cultural tourism market trends and tourist behaviour. The ATLAS Cultural Tourism Research Project currently has participating institutions from Europe, Asia, Australasia and North and South America.  The research programme runs continuously, allowing members to undertake their research when it suits them. The survey works with a modular questionnaire system, which allows participants to introduce their own questions and to decide the length of questionnaire they use.

Already a member? You can download all the information you need from this site, including questionnaires in different languages, site information forms and survey guidelines. Use of all materials is subject to the conditions established by the Project.

If you are not currently a member of the project, you can still particípate. The project is open to all those willing to participate and exchange survey data with members of Cultural Tourism Research Group. To join, please complete this form. For more information, please contact Greg Richards.

Survey materials can be downloaded below, where you can also find a list of participating researchers and project publications.

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ATLAS Cultural Tourism Survey

You can download the ATLAS Cultural Tourism Surveys here

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ATLAS Cultural Tourism Bibliography

The ATLAS Cultural Tourism Bibliography contains a wealth of sources on cultural tourism research. Updated in 2021.

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ATLAS Cultural Tourism Project Members

Who is working on the ATLAS Cultural Tourism Project?

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This insightful book reappraises how traditional high culture attractions have been supplemented by popular culture events, contemporary creativity and everyday life through inventive styles of tourism. Greg Richards draws on over three decades of research to provide a new approach to the topic, combining practice and interaction ritual theories and developing a model of cultural tourism as a social practice.

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ATLAS Cultural Tourism Publications

The project has generated a wide range of publications and other outputs. See them here.

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This study provides a toolbox of proven models for the analysis of the main aspects of contemporary cultural tourism, including supply and demand, product development, the impact of tourism on culture, sustainability policies, and the life cycle evolution of the market. After having been placed in the cultural tourism context, each model is followed by an explanation, and an application in the form of a case study.