Volume XI |

Cultural identity and tourist destination development. A case study of the Land of Bârsa (Romania)

Abstract: As the competition for the attraction of tourists has become even more intense, tourist destinations and not individual operators are now the main actors operating on the tourist market. This shift in focus has taken place as the tourism transformed itself from a simple recreational activity into a quest for knowledge and discovery due to the growing complexity of tourist’ needs and demands. Today, culture plays an essential part in tourism as it represents the very object of this quest for knowledge that Auliana Poon defines as the “new tourism”. The culture of an area, expressed through the cultural identity of its people can become a tourist attraction in itself, thus contributing to the strengthening of tourist destinations’ competitive advantage. The current paper aims to demonstrate the vital role that cultural identity has in the development and promotion of different destinations, showing that when economic, social and demographic changes lead to a dilution of an area’s cultural identity, the competitive advantage that the cultural heritage offers is eroded.