Dark Cities: A ranking of Europe’s top tourism cities in terms of dark tourism

With my colleagues Raymond Powell and Christopher Barton, we’ve just had a new paper published in the International Journal of Tourism Cities.  In the paper, we analyse the content of the websites for the Destination Management Organisations (DMOs) of each of Europe’s top ten most visited cities.  We carried out content analysis using key words and concepts associated with dark tourism, in order to see whether the DMOs were promoting dark tourism as part of their offer, and whether this was related to their success as a destination.

“Dark tourism can be defined as tourism associated with the visitation of sites which have death, tragedy or suffering as an ingredient in the mix of visitor motivations in some way or other” (Powell et al 2018: 2)

We found that there were very significant differences in terms of that what extent each of these destinations promoted their dark tourism offer on their tourist websites, but that this didn’t seem to be obviously connected to their success in attracting tourists.

darkness ranking table
Source: Powell et al 2018

This was only a very small sample of destination websites, and although it does at first glance appear that the more ‘dark’ you are, the less visited you are, it is difficult to be sure of this at this stage of the research.  What was clear from our data, however, was that European city destinations vary enormously in terms of how their promote their dark tourism offer.

Our next piece of research on this project will look at a larger sample of the top 100 city tourism destinations in the world, with a more sophisticated content analysis methodology.   Recent research suggests that the dramatic growth in academic research into dark tourism hasn’t been mirrored by its acceptance in the tourism industry.  We aim to look at this from the DMO perspective, to discover whether this is the case for city tourism.

Big Events in Small Destinations

I recently spoke at the 2nd annual International Conference for Students in Tourism and Gastronomy, in Skopje, Macedonia.  My presentation was about how small tourism destinations, especially in emerging economies, can use major events as part of their tourism branding.  You can view my presentation below:

To get an idea of what my presentation was about, have a look at this short video about the recent stage of the World Triathlon Championship that was held in Jersey, a small island of 100,000 people off the coast of France.  With a worldwide television audience of 3 million people, hosting this event provided media exposure that Jersey Tourism could never afford.

This was a great event, which I also spoke at last year.  This year was even more successful, with presentations from Ljupco Janevski  from the Macedonian National Tourism Agency, Thiago Ferreria from Serbia4Youth and Prof. Dejan Metodijeski from the Goce Delcev University of Stip.  I’m looking forward to supporting the event again next year as it continues to grow and become an important tourism event in the region.

Book review: Eventful Cities

I’ve just had a review of the book ‘Eventful Cities’ published in the journal Cultural Trends.  This new book looks at the role that events play in the economies and cultural lives of cities.  Provocatively, the authors suggest that we may be witnessing the disappearance of cultural policy and its replacement with cultural programming.

You can read my review by visiting the journal site, and you can read through some of the book on google books, or by clicking on the image below:

Simulated Cities

I’ve recently had this monograph, based on my Master’s research, published as a book called ‘Simulated Cities: cultural regeneration, branding and representation in urban development’.  Click on the image below to find out more information…