Professional Certificate in Cultural Heritage Tourism

American Indian Alaska Native Clothing and dance


Increasingly, travelers are interested in authentic experiences that will allow them to witness firsthand the lives and traditions of indigenous people. And for these communities, which are often marginalized and struggling to find alternative ways to increase their livelihoods, tourism can provide an economic incentive to sustainably maintain their cultural and natural resources while fostering a sense of cultural pride.

The Professional Certificate in Cultural Heritage Tourism Program provides tourism entrepreneurs and community leaders with the tools to identify and develop the assets that would most appeal to tourists, from cooking and crafts workshops to nature walks to historical sites.

What can you expect to gain from the program?

  • Develop an understanding of trends in cultural heritage and native tourism
  • Learn best options and approaches for managing tourism at the community level
  • Understand how to conduct a tourism assessment and evaluate the potential of cultural heritage tourism for your community
  • Learn how to introduce cultural heritage tourism to your community and to plan for its adoption and growth

Is the program right for you?

The Cultural Heritage Tourism certificate program is an ideal program if you are:

  • Involved in tourism, including tribal hospitality and gaming
  • Responsible for economic and cultural development, including planning or tribal heritage preservation for your community
  • Working within the tourism field and interested in learning more about cultural heritage tourism specifically
  • Working in the tourism sector and specifically charged with interacting with native tourism stakeholders, including hotels, casinos and cultural centers

Cultural Heritage Tourism Certificate Requirements

The Cultural Heritage Tourism certificate program is designed to be flexible and meet the various needs of individuals interested in professional development and career advancement. To earn a Professional Certificate in Cultural Heritage Tourism from the George Washington University School of Business, students must successfully meet the requirements described below.

One course is taught per week, and the Cultural Heritage Tourism certificate program consists of a total of six courses. Each course typically includes readings, tourism lectures and an online discussion. Participants are required to complete a written assignment at the end of each course.

Required Courses

Please note: The required courses listed below are subject to change.

Introduction to Cultural Heritage Tourism

This course begins with a tourism industry overview before examining how cultural heritage tourism can help to attract and engage visitors and drive economic development. The curriculum covers important considerations to help determine whether cultural heritage tourism is the ‘right fit’ for your community and includes case studies illuminating successes and challenges.

Course topics include:

  • Up-to-date tourism facts and figures
  • Types of tourism
  • Travel trade and tourism ecosystem overview
  • Sustainable vs. unsustainable tourism development
  • Cultural heritage tourism statistics and trends
  • Cultural heritage tourism considerations: positives and challenges
  • Case studies in AIANNH communities
Tourism Resilience & Sustainability

This course introduces approaches for developing dynamic capabilities to achieve a more sustainable future in uncertain times.

Course topics include:

  • Approaches for building more resilient, sustainable tourism
  • Strengthening cooperation and partnerships 
  • Best practices for mitigation and adaptation strategies at destinations
Tourism Planning & Management

This course provides tools that participants can use to engage their communities in cultural heritage tourism planning processes. These processes include assessing tourism potential, determining readiness, evaluating costs and benefits of development, and introducing local tourism management models.

Course topics include:

  • Destination review and assessment process
  • Destination policies relevant to cultural heritage tourism
  • Tourism management and governance models
  • Case studies
Community-Based Tourism Product Development

This course will introduce multiple strategies communities can utilize to promote cultural heritage product development by the public and private sectors. It will also cover individual business planning, including using data to design and develop cultural heritage tourism products.

Course topics include:

  • Cultural heritage tourism business planning
  • Financial considerations
  • Using data to design tourism products (market segmentation)
  • Tourism product testing
  • Case studies
Tourism Marketing

This course introduces the travel trade landscape, and the strategic role that marketing plays in tourism development. Participants will learn basic promotional techniques, with an emphasis on social media that can help to effectively sell a new or existing tourism product or destination.

Course topics include:

  • Cultural heritage tourism market segments
  • Branding
  • Marketing to travel trade
  • Digital marketing
  • Case studies
Tourism Education & Workforce Development
This course examines the elements of a strong workforce development program. It demonstrates how successful programs can strengthen a nation’s tourism industry and provide economic opportunities for community members.
Course topics include:
  • Goals of workforce development programs
  • How to assess industry and community needs
  • How to create education and training programs that meet industry and community needs
  • Essentials of tourism training programs
  • How to train students and staff to provide excellent customer service

Upon successful completion of the six courses, students receive a Professional Certificate in Cultural Heritage Tourism from the George Washington University School of Business.

Tips for Success

  • Set aside six hours of study per week for each course
  • Plan to self-manage your time; this program is designed to allow you to learn at your own pace
  • Complete your weekly assignments (including the live lecture, readings and discussion boards) 


To be admitted to the Professional Certificate in Cultural Heritage Tourism program, students must have completed the equivalent of a high school diploma.

Program Fees & Financial Aid

  • Program Fee: $2,775

Because the Professional Certificate in Cultural Heritage Tourism is a non-credit, non-degree program, federally funded student loan programs are not available and the program is not eligible for deferment of such loans.


The grading system is Pass or Fail. Course completion letters will be emailed to students to indicate the completion of each course. A paper certificate signed by the university will be mailed to students upon the completion of the entire certificate program. Paper certificates will not be mailed for individual courses. All financial obligations to the George Washington University must be met in order to receive a certificate.

Extension & Reinstatement Policy

One Cultural Heritage Tourism Certificate Program course is taught per week, and the program consists of two three-week blocks (for a total of six courses) with a one-week break in the middle. If for any reason during the program you require an extension, you may submit a letter of explanation to [email protected]. Program staff will review your request and determine if the extension request will be granted. You can only receive one extension for a maximum of six weeks.

Refund Policy

If a student withdraws from the Professional Certificate in Cultural Heritage Tourism program thirty days or more before the start date, a refund of 100% of tuition costs (minus a $100 withdrawal fee) will be granted. If a student withdraws from the program within fifteen days of the start date, no refund is granted. A student who withdraws between the thirty- and fifteen-day period will receive either a full credit for a future session or a 50% refund.


The next Professional Certificate in Cultural Heritage Tourism program will be offered in Fall 2024. For more information about the Professional Certificate in Cultural Heritage Tourism, please email us at [email protected].