On the tenth anniversary of the White House Conference on Travel & Tourism, the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) and the U.S. Department of Commerce invited leaders from government, tourism, the arts and humanities to examine a decade of success in a relatively new growth industry, cultural and heritage tourism. In 1995, the landmark White House Conference on Travel & Tourism was the first such gathering of leaders in this industry and the President's Committee helped bring together arts and humanities leaders to respond to findings of the conference, focusing attention on culture and heritage's role in tourism and travel, which was little understood at the time.
Although culture and heritage had been part of tourism's mix of products, the 1995 meeting proved to be turning point. A synergy between tourism, culture and heritage grew out of the White House conference that has sparked new jobs, initiatives, audiences and policy initiatives.
The 2005 Summit on Cultural & Heritage Tourism was a reflection of the importance of this industry as more than 400 of the nation's cultural, heritage and tourism leaders convened in Washington, DC, 6-8 October. Governors from across the country appointed delegations, who together with their at-large delegate colleagues, came to together to develop and expand cultural and heritage tourism for the benefit of the nation's economy, local community residents, cultural and heritage institutions, the travel and tourism industry and travel consumers.
These delegates also addressed the challenges faced by cultural and heritage tourism—turnover in leadership, loss of positions and funding as the economy has weakened, competing demands on the consumer and other issues. It became apparent to industry leaders that a national strategy designed to engage all the sectors—tourism, heritage, business, government, civic and cultural—was needed. This national strategy, A Position Paper on Cultural and Heritage Tourism in the United States, was designed by the delegates and experts in the field to serve as a framework for these leaders and delegates to commit their sectors and resources to sustaining and growing cultural and heritage tourism over the next five years. This position paper built on the original white paper developed by PCAH and its cultural partners in 1995.