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Cultural capital and destination image: Insights from the Opera House tourist

Adrian Guachalla (School of Aviation and Security, Buckinghamshire New University, High Wycombe, UK)

International Journal of Tourism Cities

ISSN: 2056-5607

Article publication date: 20 May 2021

Issue publication date: 6 July 2021




This paper aims to identify the factors that foster an interest in opera and Opera Houses as a specific form of cultural capital and how the Opera House tourist constructs images of destinations from the cognitive, affective and conative dimensions.


A social constructivist methodology was adopted, and data was captured through online qualitative questionnaires from 226 Opera House tourists using a simple random sampling approach. These enquired about the development of their interest in opera and Opera Houses and the influence this exerts on their destination image formation process.


This form of cultural capital is mainly developed by exposure to art forms through family, social and further reference groups. Opera Houses project cognitive images of cosmopolitanism, affective images of social belonging and conative images of further opportunities to experience culture and leisure fostering destination loyalty and place attachment.

Research limitations

Productions of both opera and ballet are staged at Opera Houses, opening avenues for further research on either the opera or ballet tourist markets specifically using case studies across the ample spectrum of Opera Houses around the world.

Practical implications

In addition to the visual appeal and quality of cultural produce, tourism practitioners can use an Opera House’s projected affective images of social cohesion and togetherness to attract the Opera House tourist market. Opera Houses enrich a destination’s visual and cultural landscapes, cementing the need to preserve and promote their contributions to the destination’s cultural identity.

Social implications

This study highlights the need for cultural policy and audience development strategies that cultivate this type of cultural capital resulting in demand for and supply of cultural products that in turn stimulate the development of this niche cultural tourism market segment.


To the best of author’s knowledge, this is the first study that has approached the Opera House tourist from the destination image formation context.



Guachalla, A. (2021), "Cultural capital and destination image: Insights from the Opera House tourist", International Journal of Tourism Cities, Vol. 7 No. 2, pp. 511-528.



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