3. Factors and quality indicators in tourism and in the management of cultural heritage


Having defined what quality is, it must be measured, but to do this it is necessary to adopt an appropriate quality detection system.

But a system for measuring quality in the sectors that are of interest to us that is effective and adherent to the operational reality, will have to take into account several factors that will have to be systematically identified.

Hence the need to identify in addition toentity to which the concept of quality and the stakeholders  (who expresses expectations or needs as a function of the entity)  also quality factors. 

The quality factors will have to then be transformed into measurable indicators in order to make comparisons. It is through the application of these factors that the expectations of the various interested parties are confirmed.

 The quality factors therefore constitute the main tool for the perception of quality by those who express quality requirements. The quality indicators, on the other hand, are quantitative (and therefore measurable) variables that make it possible to measure the quality level as a whole as they are considered "indicative" of the quality factor, are therefore objective indicators. 

A system for measuring quality in the tourism and cultural heritage management sector will have to take into account several factors, some strictly dependent on the type of activity, while other factors are in any case common to several types of activities.

A first classification of the factors  of quality for the tourism sector and that of the management of the Cultural Heritage which takes its cue from that proposal  from Zeithamal, Parassuraman and Berry (1991) could be the following:

  • Courtesy: kindness, respect, consideration and friendliness of the staff

  • Protection: applicable above all in the case of cultural assets that could be damaged by incorrect use.  This factor, if extended to the concept of sustainability, could also affect the protection of the territory and of the inhabitants residing in the territory that hosts the cultural assets interested in tourism (traffic, smog, cost increase as a consequence of a non-sustainable use of the territory)

  • Motivation: motivation, staff involvement

  • Competence: technical competence of the staff.

  • Accessibility: accessibility (also in relation to special needs: motor, visual, auditory, economic, etc.), ease of contact and facilitations in compliance. 

  • Communication: availability and ability to listen to interested parties, complete information on the services provided, use of understandable language.

  • Hospitality: pleasant, welcoming and comfortable environments, pleasantness in the appearance of facilities, equipment and personnel,

  • Reliability: reliability of the information provided, promptness in informing interested parties about the changes that have taken place.

  • Security: absence of dangers for the public, compliance with safety regulations.

  • Infrastructure and Equipment: quality of infrastructure, materials, equipment and tools

 It should be emphasized that some factors are closely correlated with each other, for example many of the indicators linked to the Communication factor favor the Accessibility factor itself.

 It is neither simple nor immediate to establish these elements, only by way of example, and in a hinted way only, let's consider the case in which the sector of interest is that of historical-artistic cultural heritage and in particular we are talking about a generic castle that we want make it accessible to visitors, and that it is located outside the city.

 In this case, the entities to be controlled are more than one: the castle itself, the state and non-state bodies that have direct control over it, the municipality that hosts the property in its territory, the competent superintendency, the castle managers but also the state which has the task of legislating and enforcing the laws for the protection of cultural heritage.

As for the interested parties who may have expectations, it is all of us, that is the company that, as potential visitors, we have, among other things, that of freely benefiting from that good. We could also think that among the interested parties there are the next generations who perhaps have the right to enjoy that good without us making it unusable with bad management.

The quality factors in our case are many, for simplicity I mention only two:

·     Accessibility, that is the possibility that the visitor has to easily access the cultural property; while quality indicators could be: existence of an adequate mobility system, easily passable roads, presence of parking lots in the immediate vicinity, adequate opening times and information, absence of architectural barriers; 

·     Hospitality, that is, the ability to welcome and guide the visitor, in this case indicators could be the existence of reception staff and other structural and functional elements oriented towards the comfort of visitors;

 From what has been said it should therefore be clear that the concept of quality is the same for any sector, what changes is its measurement through the quality indicators that must be identified case by case and through a careful analysis that sees different technical skills in close collaboration. among them.


1)    Here are some of the factors shown through another example:

 Consider the case of an event (for example a photographic or painting exhibition) carried out within a cultural asset, other specific examples could be made for other realities: hotels, restaurants, bars,

 Fquality actor: Protection


  • Arrangement of the works in order to protect the structures and infrastructures in which they are inserted

  • Objective evidence:

  • absence of works or displays hung with invasive techniques (glue or nails on the walls)

  • handling and arrangement of any exhibitors in order to protect the environments in which they are located

  • Handling, arrangement and use of equipment in order to protect structures and infrastructures

  • Arrangement of information signs in order to protect the rooms and furnishings (see insulating tape attached to the painted doors)

  • Adequate surveillance and the environments used for the exhibition

  • Absence of activities not compatible with the protection of the Cultural Heritage (cooking, shooting, etc.)

 Quality factor: Accessibility


  • Absence of architectural barriers (absence of steps or obstacles along the way, doors in accordance with the law, adequate and easily accessible toilets, etc.)

  • Appropriate opening hours

  • Presence of parking nearby

  • Adequate information on opening hours, routes and means to reach the premises hosting the exhibition


Quality factor: Welcome


  • Pleasant and comfortable environments (evidence: adequate lights, colors and temperature, background music, absence of noises extraneous to the context, etc.)

  • Presence of furnishings and services for the reception (chairs, toilet facilities, presence of containers with candies, etc.)

  • Presence in the immediate vicinity of refreshment points

  • Presence of staff that welcomes and guides visitors

  • Appearance of the premises (absence of: humidity, cracks, bad smells, etc.)

  • Appearance of staff (well dressed staff)

 Quality factor: Communication

  • Presence of multilingual staff where appropriate

  • Presence of brochures and information brochures also in different languages

  • Presence of adequate signage

  • Adequate information on opening hours, routes and means to reach the premises hosting the event (indicator also valid for the quality factor: accessibility)

  • Presence of posters distributed in strategic points of the territory

  • Information on the spot on opening and closing times

  • Preventive presence in the media before the start of the event

  • Staff at the disposal of the event users to provide useful information

  • Adequate information on the works and their authors

 Identifying the aforementioned elements is not enough, otherwise you risk doing the same thing as for example for Healthcare, where the above parameters have been identified (hundreds of factors and related quality indicators) but strangely, and paradoxically a management and control system for these factors has not been envisaged. It is good to remember that in order to apply quality, it is not enough to have tools that can at the most lead to effectiveness (ability to achieve established goals ), but we must aspire toefficiency (ability to be effective with good performance, i.e. optimizing the use of available resources - material, financial and human -).


Tourism Quality and Cultural Heritage

Tourism quality factors and indicators

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