Cultural tourism and the new silk roads

I recently gave a keynote speech at the 2020 World Culture and Tourism Forum in Xi’an, China. I spoke about the role that cultural tourism could play in the new Silk Road developments.

In my presentation, I focused on how cultural tourism could form a part of the new ‘Silk Roads’ in the context of China’s ‘Belt and Road’ initiative, but also about how cultural tourism might change in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. You can view my presentation below.

Cultural Tourism during the COVID-19 Pandemic

I took part in a webinar on cultural tourism organised by MEKST this week, about the ways in which cultural tourism and cultural events are being affected by the Pandemic, and how this might be dealt with in the future. Also taking part were Nemanja Milenković, the Director of the Novi Sad European Capital of Culture 2021 foundation, and Dusan Medin, from the University of Donja Gorica in Montenegro.

You can watch a recording of the whole webinar, below:

ROOTS Project Launch Event

Next month, I’ll be speaking at the launch event in Ireland of the ROOTS project, an EU-funded project that has the aim of supporting small businesses across Europe to take advantage of cultural tourism opportunities.

roots project

Along with partners in Ireland, Romania, the U.K., Denmark and the Netherlands, we’ve been working together over the last eighteen months to develop this project, with ERASMUS+ funding, which will soon provide a series of free online manuals and training kits that will be rolled out to train small business owners and managers.

At the launch event, which is free to attend, I’ll be speaking about how small destinations can use events to promote themselves and to encourage tourism, using examples from cultural heritage destinations across Europe.

Cultur WB

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.

44989627_2241049259303253_5586950736320659456_n
The Cultur WB partners in Sarajevo

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:

44956554_261796661204708_5763084488976367616_n

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.

Conference: New Spaces in Cultural Tourism

Contemporary Trends in Tourism and Hospitality – CTTH 2017 is an International conference regarding research in tourism, leisure, hotel management and multidisciplinary studies such as events and meeting industry, entrepreneurship in hospitality, creative industries etc.  I am on the Scientific Committee for this year’s event, the 17th in a successful series.  Information about the conference from the organisers is below:

This year the conference is being held in September (1-2 September, New Rectorate building, University of Novi Sad) and the working title of the conference is “New Spaces in Cultural Tourism”. The main aim of the conference is to put emphasis on the importance of cultural and event tourism as important factors for improvement of tourism and general economic image of certain country or region. The Conference is traditionally organized by the Department of Geography, Tourism and Hotel Management, Faculty of Sciences, University of Novi Sad and this year it is being held during The Street Musicians Festival because we want to emphasize how New spaces – the refinement of streets and city public spaces that possess valuable architectural heritage, but also the decentralization of the city’s cultural offer and specific cultural contributions to the local community – are very important for cultural tourism.

We hereby invite you to our International conference which regards research in cultural tourism, event and festival tourism, event management, leisure, hotel management, gastronomy, creative industries and multidisciplinary studies. More about the conference can be found at our official website.

 

Important details about Keynote Speakers can be found here.

 

Cultural Tourism in European Cities

Recently, I visited Skopje in Macedonia for the first time to give a presentation on Cultural Tourism and European Cities at the 1st International Conference for Tourism and Hospitality Students, which was held in the Faculty of Tourism and Business Logistics of the University Goce Declev.  This was an excellent event, organised by the winners of the Tuirizimijada case study competition held in Budva, Montenegro, last year.  During the event there was a mix of speakers from industry and academia, including Dr Rob Davidson and Thiago Ferreria, all talking about the role of culture and gastronomy in tourism.

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:

 

MEKST 2015

Recently, I was a keynote speaker at the MEKST 2015 conference in Novi Sad, in Serbia.  This is an annual conference held in Serbia for students and faculty from around the Balkans, with a focus on the countries of the former Yugoslavia.

046

This was the third event I have spoken at in the region over the last two years, after the Belgrade Tourism Conference and Turizimijada in Montenegro.  These events aren’t really like anything I’ve seen in the UK or Western Europe – groups of students travel together from neighbouring countries and spend their time together hearing local and international speakers, share their experiences as students and take part in social activities.

This was an excellent conference, which covered a range of topics, with a different theme for each day: Cultural Tourism, European Projects and Information Technology in Tourism.  In my talk, I used images of diverse cultural expressions in the region to explore how cultural tourism can be developed using non-traditional forms of culture.  My main message was that cultural experiences can be surprising and exciting, and that tourism development in the region can use cultural experiences to attract and satisfy tourists.   You can view my presentation below:

I enjoyed my second visit to Serbia – the city of Novi Sad is beautiful and Serbian hospitality is (always) excellent.  It is hard to imagine a similar working in the UK; we don’t have the culture of student-based academic events like they do in the Balkans.  This is a shame, as events like these showcase the talents and energy of the next generation of tourism and events professionals and give participants amazing opportunities for networking.  The next event is being held from 23-15 November 2016 and I would encourage UK-based tourism students to attend to develop their careers and make new contacts in a region where tourism development is really taking off.

Heritage, Tourism and Economic Development in Seaside Towns

Yesterday, I gave this presentation at a fascinating event at Turner Contemporary in Margate on local lists and the heritage sector.  I was invited to speak by the Margate Neighbourhood Plan Forum and Margate Civic Society, about the relationship between heritage, tourism and economic development.  This was great opportunity for me to return to Margate, the regeneration of which I published this article about a few years ago.

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.

 

An elephant delighting tourists in Margate (Thanks to Geoff Orton @ Margate Civic Society)
A mechanical elephant delighting tourists in Margate (Thanks to Geoff Orton @ Margate Civic Society)

A visit to Belgrade

Last week, Dr Samantha Chaperon and I, from the University of Greenwich, presented at the Belgrade Tourism Conference 2015, which was being held alongside the Belgrade Tourism Fair.  We were invited to speak by Serbia4Youth, an amazing organisation who are working to present Serbia as a destination for young people from across Europe and beyond.

Serbia4Youth brought together a group of academics for an event that was opened by Gordana Plamanec, the Managing Director of the National Tourism Organisation of Serbia.  As well as Samantha and I, delegates heard from Rob Davidson (MICE Knowledge) and Dr Melanie Smith (Budapest Business School), Miha Lesjak (University of Primorska, Slovenia) and Milan Stojkovic (Tourism Management Consultant).

panel discussion
Rob Davidson, Melanie Smith, Samantha Chaperon and I

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…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Tourism, culture and economic development: The Tourism Symposium 2014

I’ll be speaking at the Tourism Society symposium in Liverpool on 3rd June 2014.  This event is looking at the relationship between tourism, culture and economic development and has some fantastic contributors.  The symposium runs over two days and is being held in the Merseyside Maritime Museum – you have to book and you can do so by clicking this link.

Click to download the flyer for the event
Click to download the flyer for the event