Entertainment, Heritage and Culture
The cultural sector is a major component of tourism in Ontario. In 2014, there were 12.3 million cultural visits in Ontario, representing 8.8% of total visits in Ontario. Cultural visitors spent $6.5 billion, accounting for 27% of total visitor spending in Ontario. An important aspect of cultural tourism is the live music sector; it generates $455 million in revenues and contributes $252 million annually to the Canadian economy.
The Association for Leisure and Tourism Education defines cultural tourism as “the movement of persons to cultural attractions (such as heritage sites, artistic and cultural manifestations, arts and drama) in cities in other countries than their normal place of residence, with the intention to gather new information and experiences to satisfy their cultural needs.”
Entertainment, heritage and culture tourism is everything from visiting galleries, attending concerts, plays or theatre performances, visiting museums and historic sites, indigenous events and unique festivals and fairs to a city’s way of life.
The data shows that cultural travellers stay longer (average number of nights spent on cultural visits was 5.0 vs. 3.1 nights for all Ontario travel), and they spend significantly more at an average of $527/trip compared to $171/trip for total trips.
The top activities Ontario cultural visitors participated in were attending a performance such as a play or concert, visiting a historic site, visiting a museum/art gallery, and visiting a festival/fair.
Culture and heritage activities such as visiting small towns and villages, historical sights and shopping made the top 10 most popular activities undertaken on South Eastern Ontario leisure trips. Visiting small towns and villages was most likely to be undertaken by those aged +55.
Travellers aged 18-24 are more likely to attend a music festival and concert. Research has shown that festivals and events have been successful at motivating travellers to visit cities they may not have otherwise, thereby dispersing visitors across a destination or region. However, they are often most successful when linked to the community and local traditions – thereby providing an authentic experience.
Ontario residents accounted for the majority of cultural visits, followed by the US, overseas and other Canada travellers. Overseas visitors accounted for almost half of all cultural spending, followed by Ontario residents, US and other Canada travellers.
US cultural travellers are more likely to come from Mid Atlantic states (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania) and East North Central states (Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin).
Sources: Destination Canada, Statistics Canada, Association for Leisure and Tourism Education, South Eastern Ontario Consumer Insights Survey (2018, 2019)