Cultural Heritage Community Development Export Initiative: Question and Answer (Q&A) Forum
Question and Answer Forum

In the past few years more and more businesses and communities have begun to recognize cultural heritage tourism as a potential generator of economic growth. The American Pathways 2000 program provides strong support of this trend. Under the American Pathways 2000 umbrella 46 businesses, 48 states and 147 cities, along with the program's federal, association, and corporate partners, have recognized the export value of cultural heritage tourism.

One hundred and one (101) exportable cultural heritage tours spanning the diversity of America have been established through the efforts of the U.S. Department of Commerce's Tourism Industries office and the American Pathways partners (the National Tour Association (NTA) and the International Association of Convention and Visitor Bureaus (IACVB), as founding partners, along with the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA), the American Bus Association (ABA), the Receptive Services Association (RSA), the National Endowment for the Arts, The Smithsonian, the National Park Service, and Alamo Rent-a-Car).

Today's globally competitive tourism marketplace challenges American small businesses, communities, non-profits, and corporations to ensure future export growth through planning and investment in our cultural heritage treasures. In answer to that challenge, the Clinton Administration has requested a budget increase of $4.5 million for a Cultural Heritage Community Development Export Initiative (The Initiative) for Fiscal 2001, which begins October 1, 2000. Should this presidential budget request be appropriated by Congress and signed into action, the effort would be led by the Tourism Industries office and supported by the U.S. Commercial Service and the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

In the spirit of open communication and partnership, the Tourism Industries office has prepared the following Question and Answers (Q&A's) to inform and educate businesses, communities, and policy makers on The Initiative. Each of the Q&A's are based on a proposed structure for The Initiative which has been developed through feed-back from communities, state tourism offices, city convention and visitor bureaus, and local tourism businesses.

During the course of the year, leading to October, 2000, Tourism Industries wants to ensure the proposed program is structured to meet the needs of businesses and communities across America. Please review these Questions & Answers and send your comments prior to September 1, 2000, in writing, to: Ms. Linda Harbaugh, Policy Analyst, Tourism Industries, Room 2073, United States Department of Commerce, Washington, DC, 20230 or e-mail her at

The following is an index listing of the questions for the Question and Answer Forum:

  1. What is the goal of the Cultural Heritage Community Development Export Initiative?

  2. How does The Initiative serve the missions of the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) and the International Trade Administration?

  3. What specific outcomes would be accomplished through the work of the Cultural Heritage Community Development Export Initiative?

  4. What are the key components of the Cultural Heritage Community Development Export Initiative?

  5. Why focus on the United Kingdom and Germany as the initial export markets?

  6. What is the criteria by which these pilot communities will be selected?

  7. How does this fit with the American Pathways 2000 program?

  8. What are the Travel and Tourism Satellite Accounts?

  9. How will the Satellite Accounts impact/support the Cultural Heritage Community Development Export Initiative?

  10. What is the In-Flight Survey of International Air Travelers?

  11. How will expanding the In-Flight Survey help the community development part of the Initiative?

  12. Is this program exclusively for Native American or other minority groups?

  13. What is the time line for the Cultural Heritage Development Export Initiative?

  1. What is the goal of the Cultural Heritage Community Development Export Initiative?

    The Initiative's goal is to help communities across the United States expand their export capabilities through cultural heritage tourism development. In both the planning and implementation stage, The Initiative would aim to complement and build upon existing local, state, and national cultural heritage tourism programs.

  2. How does The Initiative serve the missions of the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) and the International Trade Administration?

    The Initiative fulfills the overall goal of the Department to serve the business community by providing expanded commercial opportunities, particularly for small and medium sized businesses. The goal of ITA to expand export opportunities would also be well served as ten new communities would be supported in these efforts. In addition, improving trade data and information services, as set forth in the DOC strategic plan, would be fulfilled through the expansion of the sample for the In-Flight Survey of International Air Travelers and the establishment of the Travel and Tourism Satellite Accounts.

  3. What specific outcomes would be accomplished through the work of the Cultural Heritage Community Development Export Initiative?

    The Initiative has been designed with the mind-set of accomplishing the following objectives:

    1. Establish 10 pilot community programs which would serve as models for success in how to develop and grow export capabilities through cultural heritage tourism.

    2. Provide more in-depth customized international visitor data for communities across the U.S. in order to support their tourism export planning efforts.

    3. Provide more precise national and community-level "impact measurements" of tourism to the economy.

  4. What are the key components of the Cultural Heritage Community Development Export Initiative?

    In order to achieve the stated goal and objectives, The Initiative has two key programmatic elements which would be implemented and measured over the course of four years community based cultural heritage tourism export development and tourism research enhancements.

    Community Based Cultural Heritage Tourism Development: Up to ten pilot communities would be designated for federal support in creating and implementing strategies for tourism export development based upon their distinct cultural heritage attributes. The international markets selected as targets for The Initiative are Germany and the United Kingdom.

    In year one of The Initiative, a cultural heritage tourism "vision" strategy would be developed for each designated community. This "vision" strategy would feature a cultural heritage tourism export promotion plan and would include recommendations in the areas of infrastructure development, product development, facilitation and interpretation.

    The development of the cultural heritage tourism "vision" strategy for each pilot community will require active participation from the tourism, civic, and cultural heritage leadership in that community. From the perspective of federal participation, the office of Tourism Industries (TI) would take the lead in the development of the cultural heritage tourism export promotion plan. The recommendation section of the "vision" strategy would be developed in conjunction with other federal agencies as necessary.

    In years two, three, and four, the Commerce Department would work with the pilot communities to implement the cultural heritage tourism export plan which had been developed in the "vision" strategy.

    Tourism Research Enhancements: Enhancements of tourism research would affect three existing/pre-existing TI programs: the Travel and Tourism Satellite Accounts, the In-Flight Survey of International Air Travelers and information outreach. These research tools and services would be utilized throughout the four year period to assist at every stage of planning and execution of The Initiative and would be especially critical for final evaluation of The Initiative at the end of four years.

  5. Why focus on the United Kingdom and Germany as the initial export markets?

    Cultural heritage tourism is one of the top activities by overseas visitors to the United States. Over 8 million overseas visitors participated in activities that are considered to be cultural heritage related in 1998. TI reported in a recent study that the visitors that participated in cultural heritage related activities, stayed in the U.S. longer, visited more destinations on average, and tended to spend more than the average overseas visitor during their stay in the US.

    These highly traveled, educated and independent visitors are especially prevalent in two key European markets: the United Kingdom and Germany. Travelers from these two markets had consistently higher participation levels in cultural heritage related activities than their overseas counterparts. Nearly one out of two German visitors (49%) reported enjoying cultural related activities on their last trip to the U.S. At the same time, 38% of the British travelers engaged in heritage and cultural tourism activities. When you apply these percentages to the volume of travelers to the country, the U.K. surfaces as the largest market for engaging in cultural heritage tourism in the United States.

    The United Kingdom and Germany are our second and third largest overseas markets for arrivals, accounting for 6.2 million overseas arrivals and nearly 55% of European arrivals. In a study conducted by the Department of Commerce it was estimated that the potential pleasure visitors or "untapped potential" of visitors interested in visiting the US from Germany and the United Kingdom exceed 7.8 million and 9.5 million visitors, respectively.

    The UK market is considered to be a relatively mature one - travelers are very sophisticated, with a high awareness of international travel destinations, the confidence to travel independently, and with specialized needs and interests in terms of travel products. Their keen interest in the "local culture of destinations", interest in rural "real America", and a strong desire to visit our city centers makes cultural heritage products very inviting for this market.

    The forecast for the UK is also very positive. Over the past few years the UK experienced record arrivals and the strengthening British economy shows no signs of slowing down. Of course other countries and destinations throughout the world also recognize the UK market as a prime travel audience for cultural heritage products. The global competition for these travelers will only grow. In order for America's small businesses and destinations to compete it will require broad based support that is driven by local leadership and embraced at the city, state, and national level.

    The German market has many similar traits - fairly sophisticated travelers who seek something beyond a basic city sightseeing experience, such as a touch of nature or a measure of culture. Although sun and beach vacations have traditionally been the mainstay of German pleasure travel, this type of holiday is giving way to more active vacations, special interests holidays, and dual-purpose vacations that combine two different purposes in a single trip (e.g., nature -culture; city - small towns). The recent global economic crisis did have an effect on the German traveler - but recovery is well on its way and German arrivals to the US are back on track in 2000.

    Both markets have a substantial repeat visitor segment to the United States. These travelers are looking for new products and new destinations to experience on their next trip to the US. The Initiative, targeted to these two international markets, will have a strong likelihood of success due to the traveler volumes, their travel interests, and desire for new cultural heritage related activities while on their trip in the United Sates.

  6. What is the criteria by which these pilot communities will be selected?

    A federal intra-agency committee would review applications and make recommendations to TI where final selections would be made. Applications must come from a community based non-profit organization with the endorsement of at least one Destination Marketing Organization. Criteria for selection are as follows:

    1. Geographic Diversity
      • One tour will be selected from each of the following regions.

        • New England: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont

        • Middle Atlantic: New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania

        • East North Central: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin

        • West North Central: Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota

        • South Atlantic: Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia

        • East South Central: Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee

        • West South Central: Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas

        • Mountain: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming

        • Pacific: Alaska, California, Oregon, Washington

        • Pacific and Atlantic Islands: American Samoa, Guam, Hawaii, Trust Territories, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands

    2. Appeal to the UK and German Cultural Heritage Traveler

        • It will be important that the community demonstrates some experience with international visitors and/or has a committed partner who has such experience. They must also demonstrate that their particular product offering has appeal initially for the UK and/or German travel market.

    3. Tourism Infrastructure Capacity

        • It will be important that the community has accessibility for international travelers through transportation, as well as lodging and restaurant capacity.

    4. Tie-in to American Pathway Themes

        • The Initiative is an outgrowth of the successful American Pathways program. As such, American Pathways will serve as the umbrella outreach effort for destinations selected through The Initiative. In the selection criteria, there will be weight given to those destinations that tie-in to current themes and/or new upcoming themes.

      • Current themes include:

      • From Sea to Shining Sea which honors the contributions of the indigenous peoples of the Americas in the face of colonial expansion.

      • I Have a Dream which explores America's path to true democracy from slavery to civil rights.

      • Lady Liberty focuses on America being a nation of immigrants and how each wave of immigrants has renewed America's society and added to its cultural diversity.

      • America's Cultural Mosaic demonstrates how American pop culture has been built upon the diversity of America's people and allows visitors to discover the ethnic influences behind American music, literature, and art.

      • Food for the Soul is the newest theme. It celebrates America's culinary heritage and ethnic diversity through gastronomic tours of ethnic restaurants and ethnic festivals.

      • Upcoming themes currently being considered:

      • 2002 - Drumbeats (interpretations on the heritage of Jazz, Latino and Native American rhythms)

      • 2003 - String Art (interpretations on the heritage of Country Western, The Blues and Rock & Roll)

      • 2004 - Hand Made in America (interpretations on the heritage of America folkart, including jewelry, pottery, quilts and more)

    5. Diversity of Cultural Heritage

      • The selection process will ensure that, from a national perspective, there is broad-based representation of all of the American Pathway themes.

    6. Community Leadership

      • The sponsoring organization applying for designation must be a community based non-profit which can demonstrate strong local leadership and certified fiscal soundness. Such an organization must apply in partnership with a destination marketing organization, such as a state travel office or a local convention and visitor bureau.

    7. How does this fit with the American Pathways 2000 program?

        American Pathways 2000 was designed to bring American diverse history alive through travel on the first year of the new millennium. Due to its success, TI plans to continue the program into 2001 and beyond. The program will serve as the umbrella outreach effort in the United Kingdom and Germany for the Cultural Heritage Community Development Export Initiative in 2002/3/4 . The following changes and adaptations will be made in those years:

        • The official American Pathways website will continue to highlight designated packaged tours.

        • The official website will now also include designated community developed self guided tours.

        • All designated tours must incorporate an official American Pathways theme. Themes will build each year on the existing 2000 themes, thus growing the body of cultural heritage products.

        • The official website will be translated into German.

        • An umbrella education effort driving visitors to the official website in each marketplace could include:
          • ~ brochure/collateral material,
          • ~ participation in TIA cultural heritage efforts,
          • ~ education/trade missions,
          • ~ booth/other presence at ITB, WTM, and POW WOW,
          • ~ on-line status reports,
          • ~ year-end published reports.

        • A community grants program will be created. Designated communities could apply for funding which would support multi-lingual trade and consumer educational information which would specifically interpret the pilot community. Such information could be distributed via the in-market efforts, such as those produced by the participating destination marketing organization, The Initiative's umbrella efforts, or TIA's marketing programs. Community projects which could qualify are:
          • ~ videos,
          • ~ brochures/collateral (describing community),
          • ~ press/communications efforts,
          • ~ travel agent seminars,
          • ~ website development, and
          • ~ film development.

    8. What are the Travel and Tourism Satellite Accounts (TTSA's)?

      • The satellite accounts are the travel and tourism industries' balance sheet. They present rearranged information from the national economic accounts and from other sources so that specific economic activities----travel and tourism--can be analyzed more completely than is possible within the structure of the national accounts. They highlight travel and tourism activities undertaken by only a subset of purchasers (visitors) and involving only a subset of purchases (tourism demand).

    9. How will the Satellite Accounts impact/support the Cultural Heritage Community Development Export Initiative?

      • They will provide an umbrella statement for state and community comparisons on how tourism has contributed to the economy. This includes: the contribution to the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP), "apples to apples" comparisons to the performance or output of other industries, the ripple effects on other industries, and the employment opportunities and compensation in travel and tourism. The Accounts will provide a national statement of the economic value of travel and tourism for supporting business plans developed for financial investments in the industries. For example, ultimately, the TTSA could be used by local banks when creating loan policies which would incorporate travel and tourism as a factor in investment evaluations and opportunities.

    10. What is the In-Flight Survey of International Air Travelers?

      • The Tourism Industries' In-Flight Survey of International Air Travelers is a research program designed to provide the federal government with an estimate of travel and passenger fare export and import figures for the country and to assess traveler behavior and demographic characteristics. The In-Flight Survey program provides data which assists the travel industry in understanding the international travel market. This includes traveler characteristics data as well as visitation estimates. The spending figures reported from the program, in conjunction with the Bureau of Economic Analysis, provide the foundation for the balance of trade data on the travel account, which in turn contributes to the configuration of the gross domestic product (GDP) . The data would also be used in the proposed Travel and Tourism Satellite Accounts (TTSA's).

        The survey is distributed to air passengers as they are departing the country and conducted as a self-administered questionnaire. It is produced in eleven languages and primarily distributed and collected on the airplane, thus the term "in-flight". The program represents one of the largest research programs in the world on the international travel market. The respondents include non-residents from all countries around the world, with the exception of Canada, just as they are completing their visit to the U.S., as well as U.S. residents on their way overseas or flying to Mexico.

        The Cultural Heritage Community Development Export Initiative is designed to double the sample or respondent base to provide more accurate and comprehensive data from the survey. In 1985, there were a total of 22.9 million overseas and Mexican air travelers who visited the country (inbound travelers) and U.S. residents who traveled overseas or to Mexico by air (outbound travelers). By 1998 this total inbound and outbound population had grown to 52.6 million, representing a 130 percent growth rate! Meanwhile, the Tourism Industries' In-Flight Survey respondent base or sampling of these travelers only grew by 20 percent (from 65,400 in 1985 to 78,517 in 1998). This is a key weakness in the program. The sample is not keeping up with the traveler growth. The Initiative supports the doubling of the current sample level to enhance the representation of the total traveler population.

    11. How will expanding the In-Flight Survey help the community development part of The Initiative?

      • In 1998, TI surveyed over 41,700 overseas and Mexican air travelers to the United States. With this sample, we were able to provide overseas visitation estimates for 41 states and territories and up to 76 cities, including Washington, D.C. If the respondent base for the In-Flight Survey was doubled, this would seriously expand the number of states and cities in which we could provide visitation estimates.

        TI currently provides country profiles for nine world regions and 15 countries. The range for the county's visitation estimates to specific states/territories and cities run from a high of 17 states and 20 cities for Japanese visitors to the United States to a low of 2 states for Mexican (air), South Korean, and Swedish travelers to the country.

        In addition, since the In-Flight Survey captures expenditure data, it provides the basis for assessing the economic impact of international travel to a state/city/community. The current sample levels restrict the ability to do this for more than a core of destinations. An expanded sample would provide the foundation of measurement for the impact of the community development efforts in The Initiative.

    12. Is this program for Native American or other minority groups exclusively?

      • No, this Initiative is open to all communities across the United States. The key elements in selection are the community's level of commitment, its heritage tourism export promotion potential, and its relevant relationship to American Pathway themes, as outlined earlier in this document. Since diversity of product themes will also play a part in selection, we anticipate that at least one of the pilot communities will be Native American.

    13. What is the timeline for the Cultural Heritage Community Development Export Initiative?

      In order to implement The Initiative, the proposal must survive the year-long budget process. Congress must approve funding for the program in the fiscal 2001 Commerce, State and Justice (CSJ) budget and then that comprehensive (CSJ) budget must be signed by the President. Following such approval, there would be different steps to be accomplished over the three year period of designation. Below is a schedule in terms of number of months it would take to implement The Initiative from the date that the funds would be actually distributed to TI.

      Activity Month Completed After Funding Distributed
      Announcement of Initiative for Pilot Communities to apply 2 weeks
      Application Deadline for Pilot Communities to be considered 3 Months
      Staffing expansion for Initiative (4 FTE's): 4 Months
      Review of applications by selected panel of experts (Panel established prior to funding distribution to ensure commitment) 5 Months
      Final Selection of 10 pilot communities 6 Months
      Public announcement of 10 pilot communities selected 7 Months
      Statement of Work (SOW): Create and send out the request for proposals (RFP) for conducting a community assessment study in each selected pilot community 7 Months
      Award community assessment study contractors 10 Months
      Initial meeting with pilot communities and each contractor (Site visits) 11 Months
      Conduct and complete Community assessment studies (Including evaluations of infrastructure needs and capabilities, product development needs and enhancements, product appeal and capabilities for exporting, economic and community impact estimates) 15 Months
      Establish recommendations and export strategy from Community Assessment studies 17 Months
      Implement Export Strategy for each Pilot Community 18 Months
      Assess initial performance measures in Export Strategy 36 Months