Our latest article has just been published in the journal Sustainability. It is open-access, meaning anyone can read it with no paywall. In the article, we propose a new fuzzy-logic model for analysing tourist motivations, which shows how they can change across different age groups. The research was carried out in Novi Sad, in Serbia, which is typical of many small European cities who are trying to develop sustainable urban tourism by attracting different age-groups. Hopefully, the findings of our research will be useful for other cities facing similar issues. You can read the whole article here, and the abstract is below.
“Tourist motivation, as a core of travel behavior, significantly influences consumer intentions and has attracted academic attention for decades. A plethora of studies analyse sets of internal and external motivators, while methodologies that exclusively focus on a single factor, such as age, that can sometimes have a determining influence in multi-attraction destinations, are less prevalent. This study introduces a fuzzy logic approach to develop a new model for analysing the internal motivations of different-aged consumers in multi-attraction urban destinations. Fuzzy models, as a mathematical means of representing vagueness and imprecise information, have the capability of recognizing, representing, manipulating, interpreting, and utilizing data and information, which typically for urban tourist motivations, are vague and lack certainty. This research tests the model in a real-life setting, using the example of Novi Sad, a mid-sized European city, which is typical of many similar cities who are attempting to develop sustainable tourism by attracting older tourists. The new model shows how tourist motivations for multi-attraction destinations are affected by age, through a specially developed m-file for MATLAB, so that it can be applied and tested in other tourism contexts. Theoretical and practical implications for sustainable destination management and marketing are described.”
Dark tourism is a topic of increasing interest, but it is poorly understood when considering its significance for mainstream and commercial tourism. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the significance of dark tourism in the top ten most visited European tourist cities and propose a dark tourism index for Europe’s tourism cities.
Data were collected from the websites of the cities’ Destination Management Organisations (DMOs) using a content analysis methodology, based on keywords related to dark tourism taken from the research literature in this area. Descriptive statistics were produced and the variance between the frequencies of keywords related to each city was analysed for statistical significance. These results were then used to construct a darkness ranking of the cities.
There are significant differences in the extent to which dark tourism products and services are promoted by the DMOs of Europe’s top ten most visited European cities. The ranking of cities by darkness does not correspond to the ranking by visitor numbers, and further qualitative analysis suggests that, that the ranking is also independent of the actual presence of dark sites within the destination. This implies that European city DMOs are engaging with the emerging dark tourism market with to varying degrees.
The purposive sample of ten cities can be extended in future research to increase the validity of the findings of this paper. A further limitation is the selection of keywords for content analysis, which have been developed following the literature review contained below. Future research could develop an extended list of keywords using a systematic review process.
This paper shows that it is possible to create a ranking of tourist cities in terms of their darkness, and that this methodology could be extended to a much larger sample size. This links dark tourism research to the urban tourism literature and also offers possibilities for creating a global ranking that could be used by destinations to judge their success in engaging with the dark tourism market, as well as by tour operators seeking to develop products for the same market.
This paper will offer DMO’s and others the opportunity to hone their tourism products more effectively in a way which offers a better understanding of tourism, and therefore provides for better management of its issues.
Dark tourism is a growing niche area of study, and this paper seeks to provide a framework to better understand supply-side aspects of it.
My latest article, written together with two colleagues from Turistica in Slovenia, has just been published in the journal ‘Event Management’. The article brings together a lot of the ideas and concepts from dark tourism and puts them into a critical events studies context, to propose a classification for ‘dark events’ – events linked to tragedy and suffering. We suggest that the concept of ‘darkness’, as it has been applied in tourism and leisure studies, is also useful for understanding certain types of events. Our paper argues that the ‘darkest’ events come with the greatest management challenges, and proposes a model to help us to identify which events are at the ‘darkest’ in these terms.
The article is based on the analysis of commemorative events in the countries of the former Yugoslavia and uses examples from a number of Western Balkan countries.
Dark events: Commemoration and Collective Memory in the Former Yugoslavia
This article develops a new understanding of the relative darkness of commemorative events that are linked to tragedy and suffering, by using examples of the many such events that take place within the countries of the former state of Yugoslavia. In order to do this, the article draws from the field of memory studies and, in particular, the concept of collective memory. A sample of commemorative events from the former Yugoslavia was investigated and qualitative fieldwork was carried to analyze them in terms of their role in collective memory. The analysis of these events allowed for the creation of a new scale of the relative darkness of commemorative events. The darkest commemorative events, which draw on autobiographical memory and hold a high degree of contemporary political significance, are judged to be the most dark and to present specific management problems because of this.
Key words: Commemorative events; Dark tourism; Collective memory; Yugoslavia; Balkans
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:
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.