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…
Today, I gave a presentation at the IACSS 2013 conference in Istanbul. You can view the presentation below. It is based on a chapter I wrote recently for the Routledge Handbook of Cultural Tourism. If you’re interested in reading the chapter and you don’t have access to it, please get in touch.
East Kent, the area that I grew up in and where I’ve spent most of my life, is bidding to become the UK City of Culture in 2017. This is an innovative, exciting attempt to bring together the areas of Ashford, Canterbury, Dover, Folkestone and Thanet as a single ‘city’ for the bid.
East Kent is a diverse and interesting part of the country – it is an area of significant economic growth and home to some very wealthy people, but it is also the site of areas of significant poverty and exclusion. Kent is a huge county, and large parts of it are rural (the garden of England, apparently!), but the urban areas are densely populated and growing fast. For years, the area’s proximity to London has been a brake on the development of its cultural offer, but now high-speed links and it’s great quality of life mean that it can attract new residents from the capital and put on events that attract London audiences.
The successful opening of Turner Contemporary on East Kent’s most distant tip shows that distance is no barrier in attracting audiences if the quality of the cultural offer is high and the marketing is right – this bid will showcase the excellent cultural activity of the area and build on the buzz around Margate.
I want this bid to win. 11 cities are submitting bids and East Kent’s is clearly the most innovative – bringing together a huge range of local authorities, cultural organisations and other agencies. If East Kent isn’t successful, then there is a huge amount to be gained from the bidding process: new links between councils who have competed rather than co-operated in the past, new networks of cultural organisations, a better sense of the cultural offer in the area and increased visibility for tourists and visitors.
Of course, as a researcher, I and others will be looking for opportunities to get under the skin of this bid and the project itself, if East Kent win. These projects aren’t without their critics and maximising the benefits of this for tourism, economic development and the cultural sector will be challenging, but bidding, and hopefully winning, is the beginning of an exciting new opportunity for East Kent. The short list for the next stage of the competition will be announced in June – you can support East Kent’s bid by clicking here and adding your name!
This week, a battle has been taking place in the High Court over the future of the Dreamland theme park site in Margate, Kent. The Local Authority for Margate, Thanet District Council, has been granted a Compulsory Purchase Order for the site, because it wants to develop it in what it sees as the best interests of the town and its residents. The owners of the site, Dreamland Live, are challenging this decision and want to retain the right to develop this land in their own commercial interests.
This is a brief news report about the background to the court battle, including a short contribution from me. The court case finished yesterday, with a judgement due in around two weeks.
The Dreamland site is an important part of Margate’s tourism heritage and vital for the future of tourism development and regeneration in the area. The delays to this project are incredibly damaging to the development of the town and are only worsening Margate’s Tourism Destination Image, which had been massively improved recently with the opening of Turner Contemporary.
I wrote a journal article about the regeneration of Margate, and of the use of culture to regenerate seaside towns generally, which you can read more about here.
I’m not convinced that the owners of the site have really grasped the full potential of a revitalised Dreamland for tourism and economic development. However, I’m equally concerned that the local authority may not have the funds, capacity and commercial experience to deliver a project that is sustainable in the long-term.
I hope that the future development of Dreamland involves a genuine partnership between the public and private sectors and that the Dreamland Trust remain at the heart of the project. The trust have put together a set of really exciting ideas for the future of the site and represent a range of views and interests in the local community. Without them, I’m sure that the whole site would have been given over to housing or a supermarket development long ago.
Over the last few months in EDReC, we’ve been working with Arts Council England South-East on a project called Crossovers. The project aimed to explore new relationships between culture, tourism and economic development. In the Spring, we’ll be publishing a report on the ‘cultural visitor economy’ (CVE).
We held a conference in September 2012 and one of the things that happened on the day was that participants came up with new project ideas – we agreed to seed-fund two of them.
This year we’re offering two more grants of £1,500 to new projects in the south-east of England that address our key themes: culture, the visitor economy and economic development.
Do you have an idea for a new creative project in the visitor economy?
Have you been thinking about how to bring more tourists to your area using the arts?
Have you been discussing how your cultural project can contribute to your local economy?
We want to see this money being used to kick start innovative projects in the south-east of England. We don’t want to give you a burden of paperwork that takes up your time when you could be busier doing more creative, effective things.
Using funding from Arts Council England South East, we’ve created a process in which you can enter the competition quickly, with the minimum of form filling, and then, if you win, you can get on with getting your project going.
We will make a decision about the two projects that best help us to support new relationships between tourism, culture and economic development in the south-east, and we’ll announce this on 11th February.
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.
I was interviewed on Sunday evening on BBC News, about the legacy of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. You can watch the interview below. I talk about the impact of the Games on London’s tourism and also the fact that it is unrealistic to expect the Games to have much of a long-term impact outside of East London.