Using culture as a competitive advantage: attracting cultural tourism in Latino neighborhoods
Cultural tourism in the United States is becoming an important economic development strategy for cities competing in a global economy. Historically, cultural tourism was produced by and for middle-and upper-income non-Latino whites to learn about “exotic” cultures in their own or other countries. Cultural tourism can provide more than economic benefits. It can increase awareness of marginalized communities by offering cultural visitors a non-threatening way of approaching different cultures. It can help revitalize and re-form urban spaces that no longer serve their original market function. However, cultural tourism also risks exploiting and objectifying communities, causing its members to be seen as caricatures. The growth of Latinos in the United States-both in population and in wealth-creates opportunities to engage in cultural tourism that respects and benefits these communities.