Cultural tourism: Look, the beauty is so close

Why look into the distance? Look, the good – the culture – is so close! At least in Germany it is almost everywhere. Every village has a church with a special organ, every small town has an original museum, every medium-sized town has a castle with a collection of paintings, every larger town has theaters and opera houses with programs worth seeing. A wealth that is worth cultivating and discovering, especially in these times when long-distance travel – keywords environmental pollution, overtourism, overcrowded airports – have lost their attractiveness.

Here, on our doorstep, lies the interesting thing, provided that, as Goethe’s famous poem says, “learns to grasp it”. Saxony’s Minister of Culture, Barbara Klepsch (CDU), has just pointed out how closely intertwined culture and tourism are. According to the minister, there were around 20.7 million overnight stays in Saxony in 2019, plus millions of day visitors every year who want to see castles, museums, theaters and operas.

According to their own information, the cultural and creative sector in Saxony generates around 3.5 billion euros in sales every year. In 2020, almost 71,000 women and men were employed in this area, 36 percent of them self-employed. Cultural tourism is an important economic factor, potentially all year round.

If you want to keep wandering around – this is how Goethe’s poem begins correctly. Many of us have traveled the world, seen at least superficially everything that travelers of the past had to conquer slowly and intensively. The early tourists who went on the Grand Tour to Italy, for example, read a lot, visited castles and libraries, and wrote, drew and painted a lot themselves – it was slow tourism, sustainable cultural tourism avant la lettre. The geographical horizon was narrower, the intellectual one often wider.

So let’s fill travel with culture and cultural institutions with travel(s)! However, this presupposes that those who receive guests interested in culture and want to earn money from them also show themselves openly. People with darker skin are reluctant to vacation in Saxony. This is unworthy of a region that describes itself as the “number one cultural travel destination in Germany”.

Dorothee Nolte is an editor in the thematic specials department and designs literary journeys for Tagesspiegel readers.

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Source: Tagesspiegel

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