In tourist market, Alberobello aims at playing the role of tourist cultural destination. Despite its various definitions, it is quite difficult to explain what cultural tourism actually is and what it has represented over the last century.
In 1985, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) stated that: “cultural tourism represents movement of people motivated by cultural intents such as study tours, performing arts, festivals, cultural events, visits to sites and monuments, as well as travel for pilgrimages.” According to recent studies this definition would be too limited, because it refers only to people whose interest in culture is led by passion or professional reasons.
Nowadays, the best definition of cultural tourism is that proposed by B. McKercher and H. Du Cros (2002) who describe it as a “form of tourism attracting nonlocal visitors who are travelling primarily for pleasure budgets and who may know little about the significance of the assets being visited”. Culture is the new frontier of tourist development and it doesn’t necessarily address experts or art lovers. Now culture speaks a universal language, touching even those who usually do not consume this particular type of good. Thus, holidays represent a chance to make new experiences. Tourist is no longer a passive receiver of experiences created by tourism industry, but s/he plays an active and aware role in creating his/her own personal “experience”.
This way of “consuming” cultural tourism reflects the profile of many tourists who, every year, especially in summer, visit Alberobello. They include, indeed, during their sea holidays a trip to the capital of trulli, confirming the definition of cultural tourism expressed by McKercher and H. du Cros.
The possibility to attract those who generally do not “consume” culture is an important chance to spread and protect culture and, at the same time, a way for tourist destinations to evolve or even reinvent themselves.