August 3, 2001

Arts and Culture Commission to Launch New Cultural Tourism Initiative

The City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture (Commission) announced the launch of "Living Traditions," a pilot project designed to identify and promote the many cultural assets found in San Diego neighborhoods to local and out-of-town visitors. In the first year of the project, the Commission will work in partnership with three selected neighborhoods - Sherman Heights, Normal Heights and the Gas-lamp Quarter - to enhance the marketing potential of each neighborhood's historic sites, properties and cultural institutions.

Commissioner Joyce Gattas, Chair of the "Living Traditions" project, said that "heritage" cultural tourism represents the next frontier for the Commission, which has received national recognition for its cultural tourism efforts.

"The world is beginning to recognize San Diego as a cultural tourism destination, due in part to the artistic excellence of San Diego's major cultural attractions such as our museums, award-winning theatres, music and dance companies. What many people don't know is that our neighborhoods also offer cultural and historical attractions that tourists would find appealing, such as festivals, farmer's markets, folk traditions and historic properties. "Living Traditions" will help identify these cultural assets, develop and package them so that they can be enjoyed by more visitors as well as residents," said Gattas.

Victoria Hamilton, Commission executive director, discussed the additional benefits that cultural heritage tourism can bring to neighborhoods, particularly those that are seeking economic development and revitalization strategies.

"The Commission's recently complete Economic and Community Impact Study explained why cultural tourism marketing is a strategy used by cities all over the country —it helps contribute to the economic vitality of our communities. We've learned that when cultural tourists travel, they take longer trips, shop more and spend more money than the average tourist. The tourism activity that this project will promote has the potential to bring new tax dollars to our city and attract customers to our local shops, restaurants and cultural institutions," said Hamilton.

"Living Traditions" is just one of many programs the Commission will implement this year that addresses an important goal —"Create Neighborhoods We Can Be Proud Of"— outlined by Mayor Dick Murphy in his State of the City address. The project encourages people with energy and ideas who are already working on neighborhood revitalization efforts to include heritage tourism marketing strategies in their planning efforts. For more information concerning the "Living Traditions" project or to participate on any one of the Sherman Heights, Normal Heights or Gaslamp Quarter "Living Traditions" planning committees contact Felicia Shaw, Program Manager, at 619-533-3050.

"Living Traditions" is funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and the City of San Diego with additional assistance from Partners in Tourism, a national collaborative of heritage tourism advocates and practitioners sponsored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The mission of the San Diego Commission for arts and Culture is to vitalize the community by integrating arts and culture into community life, supporting the region's cultural assets and, showcasing San Diego as an international cultural destination.

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