Do your travels include opportunities to experience the authentic culture of the area you’re visiting? Whether that’s through a national park, a historical place, an ethnic heritage site or a museum, you’re seeking more than to just see the sights. You’re seeking the distinctive character of the place and its people. You’re a cultural heritage traveler, a cultural tourist.
Rick Smith, owner of the Oldest House Indian Shop in Santa Fe, believes this cultural tourism, an ever expanding segment of the tourism industry, has got it right.
“I love to see more and more people seeking out the real cultural landscape of a place and engaging with its history,” Smith says. “That may come about by leaving the beaten path to experience the unique scenery, historic homes of native people, the work of local artists, or traditional foods. All of these things bring to life the character of a place and make a lasting impact.”
Solimar International, a cultural tourism consulting firm, reported that 81 percent of U.S. tourists in 2014 were considered “cultural tourists” and that more than one-third of U.S. tourists agree that specific arts, cultural or heritage events influence their choice of destination. Many even extend their stay in a place because of cultural activities.
Smith, a cultural tourist himself, has a unique understanding of this group of travelers. “We’re all seeking touchstones to tie us back to those extraordinary experiences we have as cultural heritage travelers,” he says. “My aim at the Oldest House Indian Shop is to help people take a little bit of New Mexico, a little bit of Santa Fe or a little bit of the pueblos home with them. I find it a wonderful opportunity to play a part in making a cultural heritage visit to New Mexico a memory to last a lifetime and beyond.”
Visit the Oldest House Indian Shop at 215 E. De Vargas Street in Santa Fe today and find your touchstone!