Challenges and barriers to the sustainable cultural development

RO: Dezvoltarea culturală este interconectată și interdependentă cu ramurile economicului, politicului și socialului, alături de și în relație cu sectorul turistic. Cultura este un factor important în dezvoltarea și progresul lumii globale de astăzi și poate fi văzută drept al patrulea pilon al dezvoltării, alături de creșterea economică, coeziunea socială și durabilitatea. Concentrându-se pe descoperirea culturilor, pe identitatea culturală, având un rol în conservarea diversității culturale și a patrimoniului natural și cultural, precum și în promovarea vieții culturale, turismul în general și turismul cultural în special contribuie la o dezvoltare durabilă a societăților. Rolul turismului și noile sale forme de dezvoltare continuă să se reflecte în transformările societății și în tendințele pieței mondiale. Pentru o dezvoltare durabilă, societățile încearcă să utilizeze un sistem care nu va aduce prejudicii, în timp ce va consumă în mod limitat resursele existente. Cultura poate fi considerată elementul esențial pentru o contribuție durabilă în lumea globală de astăzi.

EN: The cultural development is interconnected and interdependent with the economic, political, and social branches, alongside and in relation to the tourism sector. Culture is an important factor in the development and the progress of the global world today, and it can be seen as the fourth pillar of the development, along with the economic growth, social cohesion, sustainability. Focusing on the discovery of cultures, on the cultural identity, having a role in preserving and conserving the cultural diversity and the natural and cultural heritage and, as well as in fostering cultural life, tourism in general and cultural tourism, in particular, contribute to a sustainable development of the societies. The role of tourism and its new forms of continuous development is reflected in the transformation of society and the trends of the world market. For a sustainable development, societies are trying to use a system that will not cause any damages, while it will consume limited existing resources. And culture can be seen as a key for a sustainable contribution in the global world today.

Although the cultural life is a continuous evolution, there are a number of challenges and barriers associated with the development. The changes in the demographic profile, in the economic and social dynamics, globalization, technology, and mass media can boost the sustainable cultural development but also can lead to an environmental cultural deterioration.

The developing countries face some challenges in developing their cultural sectors, especially in their tourism sector. The regional economic and political conditions, natural disasters or terrorism are factors that can influence the tourists’ travel decisions while tourism, as a part of the cultural development, makes different people from all over the world to interact, the social and the cultural sector are affected.  Bringing together different values, cultures, lifestyles, ways of thinking can be a threat to the local cultural and population. The destination country, region, place can face a cultural degradation, can lose their own national identity by exporting traditions to the touristic services and commercialization, lose their limited resources-growing consumption of energy, especially in travel and accommodation. A challenge arises from the unsustainable consumption of cultural products and the mass commercialization. Unique patterns of a culture are being copied from others in order to attract tourists, and cultural products are created to be purchased. It can lead to diffusion of culture or to a hybrid culture. By respecting the social and the cultural authenticity of another community, people are helping them to conserve their built and also their living cultural heritage.  Moreover, the traditional values are kept alive and also they can contribute to the intercultural understanding between different communities.


Another negative impact can be on the environment and to result in damaging the cultural heritage of the community. Cultural development-by the increasing number of international and domestic tourists – has a negative impact on the biodiversity. Also, it can lead to conflicts between communities and people.

The global crisis is another challenge for the countries, that affects not only the economic development but also the resources for the culture and the cultural development. In order to react to this challenge, the governments are taking measures and are creating policies for the financial and economic sectors and not put culture on the agenda, not look at it as an important element that can bring the country economy out of the bad situation.

Another challenge that must be taken up is the recognition of culture as an instrument of innovation and development, that works when is used in the combination with other sectors. People, NGOs, companies, associations, governments are not always aware of the major contribution of culture in social and economic sectors. And yet, another barrier is to not see the culture as a distinguished dimension, beyond the social and economic perspective. Culture has to be seen as a tool for expressing a view of the world, a tool for the people’s identity.

Other obstacles to the cultural development are connected with the lack of understanding of the role of the culture by the government, the false perception of the culture, the gap between developed country, developing and underdeveloped countries.

Taking the negative effects into consideration, tourists are becoming more aware of their possible harmful impact on the sustainable cultural development. Not only the governments or the private sectors should be making efforts to implement prospects beneficial for the sustainable cultural growth, but also each person.

Ana-Maria Nae

Member of the Romanian team in Entrepreneurship Education for Cultural Tourism mobility