Dark Cities?

This is a presentation based on research that my colleague Raymond Powell and I have been carrying out into Dark Tourism in Europe.  Raymond gave the presentation at the 2nd Annual Conference of the Association of Cultural and Digital Tourism in Athens, Greece.  Dark tourism can be defined as tourism associated with the visitation of sites which have death, tragedy or suffering as their main theme. Commonly such visits are conducted with commemoration, education or entertainment in mind (Stone, 2005). Europe has an abundance of such sites, both real and imagined, which offer ample opportunities to experience dark tourism in all of these ways if so desired. However, they are rarely conceptualised as dark products, and as such categorisation of individual attractions is, at the moment, confused. In the paper that we presented, we begin the process of ranking European cities in terms of how ‘dark’ their tourism offer is.  We hope to develop this over the next couple of years, firstly by carrying out some case studies to verify this initial ranking process.  You can read the abstract of our paper below.

 

Despite the recent growth of research into dark tourism (Dale & Robinson, 2011; Lennon & Foley, 2000; Stone, 2013; Tarlow, 2005) and the growth of the dark tourism market (Biran & Hyde, 2013; Stone 2005; Stone & Sharpley, 2008), there has been little interest shown in understanding the relationship between dark tourism and urban tourism (Page & Hall 2002). This paper presents the initial findings of a research project that investigates the dark tourism products offered by European cities. A series of keywords were developed following a review of the dark tourism literature and this was used carry out a content analysis of the Destination Marketing Organisation websites for Europe’s ten most visited cities.  The content analysis used Stone’s (2006) Dark Tourism Continuum to evaluate the dark tourism products offered in each destination and to present a descriptive overview of Europe’s city-based dark tourism offer.   The paper concludes that there are a wide range of dark tourism products available to urban tourists in Europe, but that these are rarely conceptualised as such.  The mixture of ‘light’ and ‘dark’ dark tourism products presents difficulties in categorisation and standardisation of the urban tourism offer, but this is a potential area of new product development for DMOs across Europe.

ATCM Summer School

On 1st July, I’ll be speaking at this summer school event in Leeds, being held by the Association of Town and City Management.  ATCM are Europe’s largest membership organisation for town and city management and has evolved over the last twenty years into an influential national and international voice on the future of urban areas.

I’ll be presenting the initial findings of a new research project that I’m involved in between EDReC at the University of Greenwich and ATCM.  The outline of my presentation is below:

Since the economic crisis began in 2008, the visitor economy in the UK has consistently outperformed the wider economy and has been responsible for one third of all new jobs created since 2010.  Unsurprisingly, many towns and cities that have not considered themselves tourism destinations in the past are now considering how to enhance this aspect of their offer.  Established tourism towns and cities are now facing increasing competition from these new entrants and need to maintain their competitiveness with rival destinations in Europe and, increasingly, Asia.  This presentation explains the initial findings of a research project in this field that is being carried out by the University of Greenwich in partnership with the Association of Town and City Management. The research has examined the current visitor economy orientation of Business Improvement Districts in the UK and this presentation will explore the range of approaches being taken to the development of the visitor economy by BIDs, in the context of changing public sector support for tourism through local enterprise partnerships and destination management organisations.

Turizmijada 2015

Last week, I gave a presentation at the Turizmijada 2015 event in Tivat, Montenegro. This was the 8th annual event hosted by the International Association of Students of Tourism and Hospitality.  You can see my presentation, on ‘Sustainable Tourism Development in the Adriatic Region’, at the end of this post, or by clicking here.

Tivat, Montenegro
Tivat, Montenegro

The event was held in the beautiful Bay of Kotor, on the Adriatic coast and brought together hundreds of students and faculty members from a range of countries.  It was a very international event – most of the delegates came from Balkan countries such as Montenegro, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia, but there were representatives from much further afield, including the UK and Japan.  One of the supporters of the event was Porto Montenegro, a huge new luxury super yacht marina development which is making a massive contribution to tourism development in Tivat, and in Montenegro more widely.

Bay of Kotor, Tivat, Montenegro
Bay of Kotor, Tivat, Montenegro

Turizmijada has three strands to it – the academic conference, a sporting competition for universities in the region and entertainment for the delegates.  The academic conference was excellent, with presentations from academics from Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro and the UK.  The second day of presentations was hosted by the always excellent Dr Rob Davidson, a former colleague from the the University of Greenwich and now the director of MICE Knowledge.

Peter Gulobovic, the organiser and host of Turizmijada
Peter Gulobovic, the organiser and host of Turizmijada

This was my first time at Turizmijada, and my first time in Montenegro. I’m sure I’ll be going back in the near future.  The event is well organised and full of energetic and engaged tourism students, who are really focused on how to develop tourism in the region.  The opportunity to meet colleagues countries that have fast growing tourism industries is excellent and I’ll be looking to include many of the projects that I’ve encountered as case studies in my teaching at the University of Greenwich next year.