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Cultural Tourism in a Global Economy: The Search for Local Authenticity

This report has been commissioned by the historical town of Anren in the region of Sichuan, China and therefore gives special focus to Anren. It explores the featured town, including the Jianchuan museum cluster, and reflects on the importance of the town as a pioneering cultural tourism destination in the China context.

Halfway through the last decade BOP coined the phrase ‘Culture is the golden thread of urban policy’. Our projection for the next decade is that culture and creativity will be the golden thread of all forms of sustainable development and business practice.


A few examples from BOP’s current and future roster illustrate this perfectly:


  • Cities and Urban Development. See the golden thread at work in the World City Culture Forum’s (WCCF) Culture and Climate Change Handbook, launched during London’s Climate Action Week in July 2019. Our client the Greater London Authority reached a landmark moment with publication of the city’s first ‘Cultural Infrastructure Plan’ designed to ‘hardwire’ culture into the future growth of the capital. Many other global cities will produce similar plans. A key recommendation of the UK Cultural Cities enquiry was adopted with the launch of ‘Cultural Compacts’ in a number of cities across the country, including Wakefield, advised by BOP.

  • Tourism and Destinations. Our report ‘Cultural Tourism in a Global Economy: The Search for Local Authenticity’ (access below) launched in the historic ‘cultural town’ of Anren in China’s Sichuan province shows how culture is driving global tourism across the globe – and how China’s investment in cultural infrastructure will have ripple effect way beyond its borders. Through a series of projects with Failte Ireland and other organisations, in the meantime, we are working to re-invigorate and promote Ireland’s cultural tourism offer.

  • Soft Power and Diplomacy. We are working with cities – including Manchester and Chengdu – to build culture into their wider plans for trade and exchange. Our work within WCCF and for clients such as the British Council and Goethe Institute is constant reminder of the role which cultural relations play in global affairs.

  • Immersive and Digital Content. Emotional authenticity and depth of experience drive innovation in digital content creation – not technology. These are the key insights from our work with on Innovate UK’s ‘Audience of the Future’ and the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s scoping of the potential of UK/China R&D collaboration.

  • Development and Inclusive Growth. We are proud to be working with the British Council as evaluation partners on the Developing Inclusive Creative Economies (DICE) initiative. Our report for Historic England ‘Conservation in a Development Context’ examined how heritage conservation can play a part in inclusive growth strategies. In 2020 we will be continuing our work with the Inter-American Development Bank to deliver pilot projects in three cities promoting culture and heritage as core component of urban regeneration.


We are privileged to be working with visionary clients and partners across the globe on these inspiring projects. Taken together they represent a generous, optimistic view of human potential, filling us here at BOP with great hope for the future.


BOP sends good cheer and best wishes to our friends, partners and clients and to all fellow optimists – for this festive season and for the coming decade.

Weaving the Golden Thread into the 2020s

A cause for optimism

Dec 20, 2019

Green Cities helping climate change through culture and sustainability

Nov 4, 2021

How are major cities around the world responding to climate change through cultural policies and programmes?

The Green World Cities of Tomorrow: Culture and Sustainability

Paul Owens

Culture and the Climate Emergency

Apr 22, 2021

5 Priorities for World Cities in the post-covid recovery period

Culture and the Climate Emergency

Paul Owens

Culture and the Recovery: Levelling Up Culture?

Dec 4, 2020

Culture can play an important role in recovery and renewal across the UK, if the right local decision-making is put in place

Culture and the Recovery: Levelling Up Culture?

Callum Lee

Central London’s celebrated

Sep 23, 2020

This focused, coordinated set of measures can not only rescue the sector, but position it to lead the recovery

Central London’s celebrated cultural offer is in peril

Jonathan Todd

COVID-19: Government support packages for culture and creative industries #3

Aug 21, 2020

Three big questions as applications close for Arts Council England’s Cultural Recovery Fund

COVID-19: Government support packages for culture and creative industries #3

Paul Owens

COVID-19: Government support packages for culture and creative industries #2

Jul 30, 2020

The UK’s £1.57 billion recovery package: priorities for a New Deal

COVID-19: Government support packages for culture and creative industries #2

Paul Owens

COVID-19: Cities, Culture and the 3 ‘P’s: powers, partnerships, place

Jul 20, 2020

Cities are using their unique capabilities to lead recovery and renewal

COVID-19: Cities, Culture and the 3 ‘P’s: powers, partnerships, place

Paul Owens

COVID-19: Government support packages for culture and creative industries #1

Jul 7, 2020

Investing in recovery, planning for transformation

COVID-19: Government support packages for culture and creative industries #1

Paul Owens

COVID-19 is a triple blow to culture and the creative industries

Jun 30, 2020

Recovery and renewal will depend on how we address the three dimensions of the crisis

COVID-19 is a triple blow to culture and the creative industries

Paul Owens

Take planning and collaboration to whole a new level.

Jun 3, 2020

In the face of radical uncertainty leaders and policy-makers will have to take planning and collaboration to whole a new level

‘Plans are useless, planning is essential’

Paul Owens

Relief, Recovery and Renewal

May 13, 2020

Nobody knows what will happen next, but we have a good idea of the three necessary steps out of the crisis

Relief, Recovery and Renewal: navigating our way to a new kind of future

Paul Owens

The Golden Thread in the 2020s

Dec 20, 2019

A cause for optimism

Weaving the Golden Thread into the 2020s

Paul Owens

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By BOP Consulting

Paul Owens

Co-Founder and Director

Paul is a leading international advisor and practitioner in cultural policy and creative economy. He is Co-Founder of BOP, and alongside his fellow directors he has pioneered now well-established methods to measure the impact of cultural policy. 

Paul Owens - Founder and Director | BOP Consulting

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Paul Owens

Paul Owens

Co-Founder and Director