Last week, I was very pleased to be invited to speak at the launch of the Cultur WB network, in Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina. Cultur WB is a new network to support the development of Cultural Tourism across the Western Balkans region that has been set up with ERASMUS+ funding in a project with partners from Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro, The Netherlands, Austria and Germany. When I was there the project was also bringing in new contributions from the UK, Greece and Albania.
The Cultur WB project aims to not only strengthen ties between people working on cultural tourism as practitioners and researchers in the region, but also to to develop life-long-learning programmes for people working in tourism and new Masters programmes in cultural tourism. At the launch event, I gave a presentation on how small and emerging destinations can use cultural events to develop their tourism, and how we should think about measuring the impacts of these events. You can view the presentation below:
The launch event was fantastic, with presentations from politicians, academics and practitioners. Sarajevo itself is an amazing city and the organisers of the event, Sarajevo Meeting of Cultures, are doing an incredible job of trying to get their city onto the Cultural Tourism map, which I have no doubt they are succeeding in.
During the event, I was filmed by a local television station, where they asked my the question, “What is Cultural Tourism?”. You can watch the video of the interview below:
In my presentation, I talked about the role of intangible culture in creating memorable experiences for tourists, especially how the food and the atmosphere of a city contributed to its image. I wanted to get across how the traditional view of culture as monuments, galleries and landmarks can only convey part of the true meaning of a place, and how destination marketers should think about how to capture and promote the experiences of a place alongside its memorable sights. I ended with a view observations about Cultural Tourism in Skopje. You can view my presentation below:
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.
I will be presenting in this exciting free webinar aimed at cultural and creative businesses in the south-west of England. It is being delivered by ‘ThriveBath’, a training and support programme for the cultural and voluntary sectors in the Bath and North East Somerset area. I will be discussing the impact of economic turbulence on the creative and cultural sector in England and suggesting ways that businesses can adapt to uncertain times.
You can sign up for the free webinar by clicking here.