Holiday cheer often means holiday travel, and for me, this year is no exception. Heading west to see my parents in California means two flights both directions and a three-hour time change. Yet even though the time is tight and the to-do list long, part of my planning is also about what cultural events and arts-related places and spaces we’ll be hitting while I’m there.

I’m not alone in checking out local arts when I travel.

A report from Mandala Research finds that 131 million people in the U.S. have participated in art, culture or heritage activities while traveling over the last three years – that accounts for 76 percent of all leisure travelers! This has an economic value of $171 billion to the U.S. economy, so those cultural activities are good for strengthening local communities as well as being the stuff of great, distinctive memories.

This promise of economic value holds true for Cincinnati. Our region welcomed 24 million visitors who spent $4 billion in 2013, according to Tourism Economics in a report conducted for the Regional Tourism Network (RTN) and the regional Convention and Visitors Bureaus. In the RTN’s 2014 Visitor Profile it was also reported that more than 26 percent of visitors experienced a cultural attraction while in the region.

And, we know from research from Americans for the Arts that non-local arts attendees in Greater Cincinnati spend more than two-times the amount of local attendees on things such as shopping, meals, parking and transportation.

ArtsWave and the Regional Tourism Network are jointly investigating what our out-of-town guests are looking for in an amazing weekend getaway experience. What would it take to see even more economic benefits from cultural tourists to our region? We’ll report on our findings in a future edition of The Ripple Effect.

One thing we already know for sure – residents of the Greater Cincinnati region are looking for many of the same things as tourists: authentic, enriching experiences.  That’s why is giving you all the information you need to plan the perfect holiday, whether you are looking for classic or contemporary events or something altogether different

The region’s arts organizations help put Cincinnati on the map, which is critical whether we are seeking to attract new businesses, talented employees, or weekend getaway travelers. Or if we are just looking to make this year’s holiday season one that is memorable and inspirational. 

Wherever you find yourself this holiday week, at home or on the road, include the arts your schedule. It will bring you closer to the people – and the community – you love.