Heritage Tourism


Heritage tourism helps make historic preservation economically viable by using historic structures and landscapes to attract and serve travelers. Heritage tourism can be an attractive economic revitalization strategy, especially as studies have consistently shown that heritage travelers stay longer and spend more money than other kinds of travelers. As an added bonus, a good heritage tourism program improves the quality of life for residents as well as serving visitors.

The National Trust defines heritage tourism as “traveling to experience the places, artifacts and activities that authentically represent the stories and people of the past,” and heritage tourism can include cultural, historic and natural resources. The National Trust has developed five guiding principles for successful and sustainable heritage tourism development as well as four steps for getting started. These principles and steps have been adopted broadly across the United States and internationally.

Five Principles

  • Collaborate
  • Find the Fit
  • Make Sites and Programs Come Alive
  • Focus on Quality and Authenticity
  • Preserve and Protect
  • Read More the Five Principles

Survival Toolkit

This Survival Toolkit was developed to help heritage and cultural tourism sites and destinations survive in tough economic times. The Toolkit includes survival stories from across the country. Stories are searchable by type of attraction and/or by any one of the eleven survival tips developed as part of the toolkit.

How We Can Help

The National Trust has heritage tourism specialists on staff who can provide consulting assistance in heritage tourism development, management and marketing. Our staff has developed a nationwide network of partners and resources - an unparalleled benefit to anyone seeking to enhance or develop heritage tourism programs.

More Resources

Learn more about successfully developing, promoting, and managing cultural heritage tourism at culturalheritagetourism.org