Kick Off Meeting of the SPOT consortium

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On 28-29th January we held the first meeting of the SPOT consortium on Cultural Tourism. This is an EU funded Horizon 2020 project whose full name is “Social and Innovative Platform on Cultural Tourism and its potential on deepening Europeanisation”.

The focus of the project can best be described by the Abstract:

Cultural tourism is changing. The traditional forms still exist – museums, art galleries, landscapes, historical sites, festivals – but both cultural destinations and the tourists are under transformation. Many ‘cultural tourists’ see themselves neither as seeking culture nor as tourists; there is increasing evidence of people seeking to experience culture rather than merely observing it. That is: agri-tourism where visitors want to experience rural life; people wanting to visit the actual venues of TV crime thrillers; culture being explored by those using themed routes in winery regions or via pilgrimage. These trends provide opportunities to both revitalise poorer and rural areas through economic and social development while protecting local cultures and landscapes. The project sees an extension of existing policies and the promotion of new approaches. The project’s aim is to develop an updated approach to understanding and addressing cultural tourism and to promote development of disadvantaged areas. Based on an innovative tool and digital technology the project identifies layers of data and characterizes excellent existing practice, explores emerging forms of cultural tourism, identifies opportunities and seeks to develop strategies allowing local people to gain local benefit from their precious cultural assets. The project uses case studies across 15 European regions, consolidates definitions of ‘cultural tourism’, engages academics and stakeholders in developing policy proposals in practice and posits means of generalising the lessons via an Innovation Tool to assist policy-makers at all levels as well as practitioners. Positive and negative aspects of cultural tourism exist; a balanced development path needs to be sought. The project will help to identify themes and areas where intervention at local, regional, national and European levels may assist in achieving successful developments and in managing that balance.

The project Kick Off took place at the Mendel University in Brno (Czech Republic) since they are the co-ordinators. However, there are also 14 other partners including: Israel, Romania, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Estonia, Austria, Aberdeen, Greece, Spain, Italy, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia.

Claire Wallace and Stephanie Garrison are the main participants from Aberdeen.

The particular focus of the Aberdeen component is on “Media Tourism” - that is, tourism created by following popular media outputs such as Harry Potter, James Bond, Outlander, Detective Stories and so on – which have made an important impact on Scottish tourism. We will look at some of these as case studies for new forms of Cultural Tourism.

Claire Wallace is Professor of Sociology at the University of Aberdeen and has worked for many years on the rural digital economy and cultural heritage. Stephanie Garrison is her PhD student who has just submitted her thesis on fan following of the popular Outlander series. 

For more information go to the SPOT website (to follow) or see Claire Wallace’s personal website www.clairewallace.infofor ongoing information.