My new article has just been published in the Skyline Business Journal, called ‘Tourism Policy Research after the COVID-19 Pandemic: Reconsidering the Role of the State in Tourism’.
The article is open-access, meaning anyone can read it. I argue that the decisions that governments around the world have taken to intervene in their tourism industries means that we need to re-think the role of the state in tourism. You can read the abstract below and access the whole article here.
“Over the last thirty years of research into tourism policy, there has been a dominant assumption that the appropriate role of the state in tourism is mostly settled. The state has a legitimate role in the tourism industry, but it is essentially one of ‘steering and not rowing’. This assumption has developed against the backdrop of the neoliberal shift towards small states, powerful markets and light touch policy interventions in industry. This research note argues that the measures that have been taken by governments around the world in respect of their tourism industries, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, are sufficiently significant and long-term to warrant a re-appraisal of the role of the state in tourism. Specifically, this note makes the case for a renewed focus on research into tourism policy in non-Western contexts, where the role of the state has not been as constrained by the neoliberal shift, and for an increase in international comparative policy research, which has been notably absent in the tourism policy field to date.”
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.
As the use of historic building as venues for commercial activity grows, events management professionals working in historic buildings are faced with a number of sustainability challenges, including conservation, preservation, social value and financial sustainability, as well as with satisfying their clients. In particular, these professionals are required to maintain the complex balance between the competing priorities of historic value and contemporary relevance. Little research has thus far investigated the role that sustainable events can play in the management of historic buildings, beyond considerations of the trade-off between conservation and income generation. This research analyses the contribution that events can make to the sustainable management of historic buildings, with an emphasis on understanding the perspectives of event managers within these properties, based on qualitative interviews with historic building event managers and stakeholders in London, United Kingdom. A key finding of the research is that event managers within historic buildings have complex views of sustainability that are specific to these properties and which are not captured in the mainstream events management literature. The paper contributes to the emerging literature on sustainable events and also develops earlier research on the role of events and other income-generating activities in historic buildings
I was interviewed briefly early in the year for the industry publication, funeral service times. You can read the final article here, or by clicking the image below. Along with a colleague, Raymond Powell, I’ve had a book chapter published before on dark tourism and we have a journal article in the International Journal of Tourism Cities coming out on the topic of dark tourism and European cities, scheduled for the start of 2018.
The star of this industry article however, is Sheldon Goodman, the co-Founder of Cemetery Club, who spoke at an event hosted by our Tourism Research Centre in May. Sheldon gives an excellent account of cemetery tourism and the cemetery tours that he leads. If you’re looking for an interesting case study to support your own research into dark tourism, Sheldon’s work is great place to start.
The 2nd edition of our events management textbook, ‘Events Management: An Introduction’ has just been published by Routledge. As well as a great new cover, it has updated international case studies throughout, new industry person spotlights, lots of new material and it is now also full of great colour photos.
You can buy it from all the usual places, like Amazon, and if you’re a teacher or researcher interested in an inspection copy, just go to the Routledge website to request one.
I have just joined the board of the open-access journal Sustainability. The journal is an international and cross-disciplinary scholarly, open access journal of environmental, cultural, economic and social sustainability , which provides an advanced forum for studies related to sustainability and sustainable development. I have joined the editorial board for the ‘Sustainability of Culture and Heritage’ section.
I have been reviewing for this journal for a while, and I’ve been impressed by the diversity and the quality of the papers, and the speed of their reviewing and publishing process. Typically, reviewers’ comments are fed back to authors within a month and publication takes place online within a week following acceptance. If you are interested in publishing in this journal, in my area, or if you would like to propose a special issue, please just get in touch for a chat.
In our presentation, we present research where we tested the utility of the concept of punctuated equilibrium, for understanding recent changes in UK tourism policy. Punctuated Equilibrium draws our attention to two different groups of people and organisations in understanding change and continuity in tourism policy. Firstly, the policy community involved in framing, creating and implementing tourism policies in the UK. Secondly, the role of issue networks in attempting to shift the tourism policy agenda – broadly speaking, this would be activity by non-governmental interest groups, such as lobbying and campaigning.
In our presentation, we presented two brief case studies. Firstly, we explained how the conservative elements of the UK’s coalition government, which was elected in 2010, slowly worked to change the composition of the tourism policy community until they were able to achieve their ideological goal of significantly reducing public sector support for tourism, despite this having no real support from the broader tourism sector in the country.
We concluded that the perspective of punctuated equilibrium was helpful in explaining why a long period of stability in tourism policy and been broken by a series of quite dramatic changes in tourism governance in the UK. Punctuated Equilibrium suggests that we should be able to explain the evolution of tourism policy through analysing the tension between policy communities and issues networks – our initial investigations have led us to conclude that, in the case of the UK, the policy community is the dominant part of this equation. We plan to develop this further for a paper next year….
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 posted a series of blog posts in the run up to the publication of the 2011 UK Tourism Policy, which you can read here, here and here. In these posts, I suggested that the government needed to develop a serious industrial policy for tourism, cut VAT on tourism, invest in skills development and education for tourism professionals and create tourism enterprise zones. Over the last few years, I’ve written (mostly with my colleague Dr Samantha Chaperon) a few papers that evaluate the UK Government’s recent approach to the tourism industry along similar lines.
In 2010, we published this paper on the prospects for English Seaside Towns in the context of the closing down of the Regional Development Agencies and their replacement by new Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs). We concluded that the LEPs did not place sufficient emphasis on tourism and that they did not recognize the challenges to developing seaside towns associated with their peripheral locations.
In 2013, we published this paper critiquing the UK Government’s 2011 Tourism Policy. In the paper we outlined the major changes that had taken place in the governance and public funding of tourism following the publication of this policy and suggested that the policy did not offer a clear vision of how the government would support the industry in a period of public sector austerity.
Also in 2013, I published this paper, which reviewed the tourism policies of successive UK Governments from 1997-2010 in terms of their relationship to local economic development. This paper shows that, although the current government’s tourism policy continues with many of the assumptions of previous policies about the links between tourism and economic development, it does introduce some new thinking that may create an environment in which the tourism industry can contribute to local economic development.
I think the chances of tourism making it into the published manifestos are pretty slim – tourism isn’t really a doorstep issue. However, we should expect to hear something like this statement from the Labour Party from all of their rivals over the next few months. As they do so, I’ll be reviewing them on this blog and trying to get a sense of what the post-election tourism landscape will look like.