In my presentation, I argued that, in the absence of strong government policies on tourism and culture, and as public sector funding and control of regeneration reduces, there is an opportunity for heritage groups (like the fantastic Sevenoaks Society, who presented their work on local lists at the event) to influence how their local heritage is presented to tourists and to influence the nature of local economic development.
My main point was that tourists want fantastic, memorable experiences. If heritage groups can present their local heritage to tourists as interesting stories and use exciting narratives, then heritage can be a great resource for regeneration. This might mean them becoming comfortable with the inauthentic heritagisation of their areas, but seaside towns like Whitby and Blackpool show that this can be highly effective in bringing in tourists and generating economic impacts.
The conference was one of the most interesting tourism events that I’ve been involved in for a long time – a chance to hear from academics in a region that is often under-represented in academic circles and to listen to the views of young people from the region about how they see the future of tourism and their own careers. I learnt about the extent and significance of spa and health tourism in south-eastern Europe and the innovative marketing of the European Basketball Championships in Solvenia in 2013, as well as the factors affecting tourism entrepreneurship in the region. You can view our presentations below:
Dr Samantha Chaperon: Tourist Destination Image – Young People’s Perceptions of Serbia
James Kennell: Cultural Tourism and Urban Regeneration in Europe – Lessons for Serbia
As well as a great conference, our hosts showed us some of the traditional culture of Serbia and took us to some of their other events for young people in the city. Belgrade has so much to offer young people as a destination, not least its nightlife! We tried to keep up, but eventually gave in and saved our energy for sightseeing…