Cultural tourism clusters: Experiences from Ireland
The very concept of cultural tourism suggests that there is a symbiotic relationship between the arts and tourism, and that opportunities for cluster development abound. In fact, relationships between artists and travelers have existed for centuries. The concept of ‘cultural tourism’ is said to date from the beginning of the seventeenth century when an educated, wealthy elite undertook the Grand Tour (Towner 1984). However, it is only recently that governments have begun to recognize the value of supporting cooperative activity between tourism and the arts. This chapter presents a case study of a cultural tourism cluster in the south-west of Ireland. The research illustrates some of the opportunities and problems that small communities encounter in their attempts to develop cultural tourism. Conclusions are drawn regarding the potential of clustering to support, or hinder, the achievement of arts and tourism policy objectives. The author concludes that cultural tourism clusters are valuable, but they are not the panacea to local economic development that public policy-makers suggest they are.