The development of event tourism has been an integral part of the local cultural industries for the significant period of time. In particular, the organizing of festivals and similar special events has been regarded as instrumental for the development of local economies. The Morecambe Town Council has organized more than 20 festivals and/or cultural events in the territory under its jurisdiction, which attests to the significant importance of this field of social activities from the local management perspective. Therefore, one should present a selection of the scholarly opinions pertaining to this issue, in order to evaluate the significance of the related phenomena for the development of local economy, as well as to situate the specific concerns of the Morecambe Town Council within the larger societal framework.
This chapter will be divided into three main sections, excluding Introduction and Summary. Section 1 will deal with the definition and conceptualization of ‘event tourism’ as the specific form of cultural tourist management. Both theoretical contributions and practical implementation of the event tourism guidelines by the UK local authorities will be duly reviewed and compared. In Section 2, the comparative overview of the scholarly opinions on the role of festivals for the maintenance of community cohesion will be presented. Further, the connection between their theoretical opinions and the practical concerns of the local councils such as the Morecambe Town Council will be traced and analyzed. Section 3 will highlight the socioeconomic aspects of event tourism as a value-generating activity. In particular, the views of different scholars with regard to the impact of event tourism on local finances will be compared. Finally, the Summary will concentrate on synthesis of the conclusions already attained at the end of each respective section. The main purpose of this part is to achieve an integrated picture of the research phenomenon.
The Definition of Event Tourism
The basic definition of event tourism appears to locate its essence in “the systematic planning, development and marketing of planned events as tourist attractions” (Getz 2010, p.3). Hence, in my opinion, the concept of a tourist event is recognizably located at the centre of the broader framework of event tourism management.
The Encyclopedia of Tourism defines an event as a “temporary occurrence” that may be either “private and unrecorded” or “unplanned news” event (Encyclopedia of Tourism 2000, p.209). The categories of events that may draw an amount of attention from the tourist visitors of a locale or region may include “cultural celebrations (such as festivals, carnivals, religious ceremonies...), art and entertainment (concerts and other performances...), business and trade..., sport competitions,” etc. (Encyclopedia of Tourism 2000, p.209). The main intent of the majority of these events seems to be connected with the notion of “a sharing between hosts and guests” (Encyclopedia of Tourism 2000, p.209).
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Consequently, one may claim that the special events drawn upon for the purposes of increasing the tourist activity are necessarily characterized by certain authenticity. Following Heitmann, I would surmise that this concept may be operationally defined as “a sense of a true, sincere or original element in a historical context” (Heitmann 2011, p.45). I would consider this element to be extraordinarily important from the viewpoint of a successful tourism management/marketing, for the “central element of any tourist experience is a juxtaposition of the normal day-to-day environment and the unusual and different experience that tourists can encounter while on holiday” (Heitmann 2011, p.45).
Consequently, the occurrence of any significant event pertaining to local cultural and/or societal peculiarities may be utilized in order to attract tourist attention, as well as to bring substantial revenues into the local economy. This perspective may be supported by the findings from the relevant literature. For instance, Pearce & Moscardo (1986) note that the authenticity of the setting in which tourists may find themselves exerts direct impact on their perception of the local environment(s). In this interpretation, tourist events may be viewed as specifically authentic attractors giving rise to increased tourist attention, or the ‘tourist gaze’ (Urry 2002).
Some main characteristics of the relatively permanent tourist events may be glimpsed from the description provided by Mallen & Adams (2008). While their definition pertains to the sport events, I would find it useful for the larger corpus of the tourist events as well. The authors divide the totality of events into “traditional” and “niche” ones. Their concept of a “traditional event” involves two major characteristics, namely (a) the establishment of “standardized rules and regulations that must be followed to produce an event” and (b) the “recognizable and time-honoured” nature of the event (Mallen & Adams 2008, p.2). On the other hand, the category of “niche events” refers to the special events that are “forged through innovations that alter or renew an event or create a completely new event” (Mallen & Adams 2008, p.3). Proceeding from the interpretations presented by these authors, one may surmise that the development of a new niche for the planned tourist event(s) may require substantial and well-planned efforts on behalf of the policymakers.
The definition proposed by Mallen & Adams (2008) may be underwritten by the similar one, proposed by Janiskee (1980) with respect to tourist events that have a distinctively festival-based character. In this interpretation, tourist events may be understood as “formal periods or programs of pleasurable activities, entertainment, or events having a festive character and publicly celebrating some concept, happening or fact” (Janiskee 1980, p.97). In my opinion, this definition may be extended to all the festivals having an impact on tourist activities in the respective field or area; this factor would have a substantial influence on the subsequent interpretations of the phenomena related to the event tourism at large.
Furthermore, I would underscore the interconnectedness of the policy-oriented and purely economic aspects of event tourism. In particular, Getz’s (2008, p.339) emphasis on the “cultural experiences” that may be obtained as the result of the special events and festivals organizing would appear to be especially appropriate here. Getz believes that even “business and political events” may be utilized to this end. Getz (2010) attempted to delineate five major objectives of event tourism as a specific subset of the tourism management activities. These may be (a) place marketing (“create positive images; improve quality of life and the environment; attract residents and investors”); (b) tourist attraction (“attract quality tourists, spread demand, increase visitor spending”); (c) the ‘imager’ function (“create and enhance themes, combat negative imagery”); (d) the ‘catalyst’ function (“stimulate infrastructure, assist urban renewal, stimulate business/trade”), and (e) the ‘animator’ function (“encourage first and repeat visits at facilities, resorts, attractions”) (Getz 2010, p.4). The execution of these functions may be regarded as instrumental for the development of a local tourist industry.
Therefore, one may posit that, unlike the earlier folk and Church festivities that purported to play an important integrative role at the societal level, the modern festivals and similar events possess a characteristically commercial streak, making them an integral part of the consumerist social matrix. This personal opinion of mine may be compared to that of Getz (2008) who posits a specific contrast between the traditional fairs and celebrations that played a specifically functional role, on the one hand, and the tourism-oriented events that are superficially similar in contents but “are planned to meet numerous specific economic, business, social, cultural and other policy aims” (p.24).
Further, Quinn (2009) makes an attempt to reflect on the historical trajectory of festivals in their capacity of an instrument for generating socially desirable attitudes and acquiring access to the new sources of capital inflows. In his opinion, while festivals experienced a substantial decline in their intensity at the end of early modern era, they have lived through the new flourishing after the late 19th century, with the increase in “their potential to deliver a series of development outcomes in terms of economic restructuring and revitalisation, destination repositioning, inward investment and tourism revenue generation” (Quinn 2009, p.487). Quinn applied his interpretation of the Irish festivals as cultural attractors, describing their greater motivating impact upon the tourists. This would serve as further evidence to his theory.
In my opinion, this perspective may be especially valid from the viewpoint of the urban financial management, with city authorities being major actors in developing plans and strategies for the event-based tourist management. This would make tourist events an important source for revenues and a positive publicity factor for the cities in question. Following Ritchie (1984), festivals may be considered a subcategory of the more general events that are “developed primarily to enhance the awareness, appeal, and profitability of a tourism destination in the short and/or long term” (1984, p.2). While such definition may seem vague, one should bear in mind that its application would encompass the vast majority of festivals as cultural events aimed at gaining the tourists’ attraction.
The profile of the Morecambe Town Council-organized festivals and similar special events seem to conform to the general model of the event-based tourism briefly outlined above. As one may discern from the data received through the 2012 consumers’ responses to the major events undertaken by the Morecambe Town Council (e.g. the October 2012 Halloween Happy Mount Park), a substantial number of the respondents indicated that they were planning to attend the subsequent events organized by the Council, while others stated that they were visiting local attractions or leisure places, while being at the festival in question. Such position would be consistent with the assumptions by Getz (2010) that festivals and other special events may be characterized by the high level of attractiveness to the tourists and, subsequently, by the greater potential for additional economic benefits for the local economy.
This situation may be further underscored by the relevant research that was carried out by Maughan and Bianchini (2004), with respect to the socio-economic impact of 11 major festivals, taking place in the East Midlands of England in the period of 2002-2003. This research proved that the majority of the festivals covered therein have had substantial impact upon the increase in popularity of the appropriate regions as the tourists’ destinations. For instance, the Leicester Belgrave Mela festival reported to have experienced significant growth for the duration of 2001 to 2002, leading to the constant overcrowding of the Abbey Park that served as its principal venue (Maughan & Bianchini 2004, p.38). This fact may be taken as an indirect evidence of the continuing relevance of festivals for initiating and contributing to the variety of community-based local initiatives.
Festivals and Community
The connection between festival activities and the greater community life has been frequently noted by a variety of the researchers. In my view, such findings may be taken as indicative of the positive impact of various festival-related activities on the local cultural production; thus, festivals and similar special events cannot be regarded as mere revenue-generating instruments, since they have tangible implications with regard to the cultural life of the local society in general. In particular, Quinn (2006) views festivals (and ‘festival tourism’ as their more specific expression) as one of the major determinants of the cultural development of the community under consideration. Utilizing empirical material from the number of the Irish communities which were characterized by the development of the sustainable cultural activities as the major loci of the tourism management, Quinn (2006) noted that festivals and festival tourism played the role of significant unifiers of the infrastructural development activities contributing to the further promotion of cultural heritage of the community at large. Moreover, festival tourism was found to contribute not only to the economic growth in the respective communities, but also to the development of artistic and related activities (Quinn 2006).
According to the perspective introduced in this study, the impact of cultural tourism on the social and cultural life of the community may be diverse and manifold, leading to either potentially negative or apparently positive outcomes. The former may be connected with the community polarization brought about by the influx of the tourists and the resulting changes in the community lifestyle and power relations. While the latter phenomenon may be more notable with regard to rural communities, as the study conducted by Marcouiller (1997) may testify, the unequal commercial and business development of the major urban centres of tourist activities may be similarly taken as the example of such changes. In another study by English, Marcouiller, and Cordell (2000), the phenomenon of recreational dependence in rural areas is explored. While the authors pay more attention to the interrelationship between the natural resource-based tourism and the community dependence thereon, some of their findings with regard to socio-economic implications of the tourist dependence may be applicable to the problems faced by the Morecambe Town Council-based special events and festival projects.
In general, the tourism-dependent communities are characterized by higher average incomes but, simultaneously, higher numbers of the amenity-seeking migrants that may try to make use of the increased economic resources generated by tourism (English, Marcouiller, & Cordell 2000, p.200). On the other hand, the negative impact of increased urban tourism on the established cultural centres cannot be excluded either; as demonstrated by Glasson (1994), Oxford suffered from the increasing levels of urban noise and crime in comparison with the era when it was less popular among the tourists. Urry (2002) denotes several discourses that have an impact upon the tourists’ perception of the specific phenomena and events serving as the focus of the tourists’ attraction. According to these, the discourse of “heritage and memory” (Urry 2002, p.150) may be deemed especially relevant for the conceptualization of the cultural impact of festival tourism. The major aspect of this latter seems to be connected with an attempt to represent the ‘creativity’ of the locality and/or region associated with the respective cultural festival. Prentice and Anderson (2003) observe that “cultural pursuits” serve as a form of “identity creation” for the tourists attending the respective sites and events (p.8). Such processes may be the characteristic example of a contradictory nature of the contemporary urban development, with urban tourism being some of the most controversial thereof.
Proceeding from this discussion, the problem of a visitor impact management would present itself to both policy makers and ordinary residents. I would consider the number of respective studies useful for the purposes of this research. For instance, in making inferences with respect to the possible remedies to the problems associated with the tourist management, Garrod, Fyall, and Leask (2006) attempt to examine some of the most significant issues that may be encountered in the tourism-oriented heritage communities. The authors define several types of such issues; in particular overcrowding (defined in the paper as a situation when the visitor attraction “is receiving visitor numbers in excess of its carrying capacity” (Garrod, Fyall, & Leask 2006, p.132)); wear and tear (such as the one caused by the feet pressure on the valuable or important paths or cultural artefacts, or by the adverse impact of humidity and temperature factors); and the traffic-related problems such as “congestion, pollution from vehicle exhausts, noise, the increased risk of accidents, damage to verges and lawns”, and other similar incidents (Garrod, Fyall, & Leask 2006, p.134). The consideration of these issues would lead one to surmise that the status of the community as the tourist attraction may actually lead to the range of the negative effects for its development as well.
At the same time, these event-based tourist attractions perform the function of creating and conditioning the cultural imagery associated with specific communities or societies, which may be construed as the underlying factor of their “civic repositioning” (Prentice & Anderson 2003, p.8). For instance, examples of Edinburgh and other Scottish cities and townships demonstrate that the promotion of specific cultural and broadly perceptual models associated with the localities and regions in question leads both to greater tourist attention to the site and helps define its contemporary cultural identity in general. The interviewing of the Scottish Festival tourists undertaken by Prentice and Anderson showed that the vast majority of the latter (i.e. 79.8%) indicated that their decision to attend was conditioned by the prior associations of the Festival with the Scottish culture (Prentice & Anderson 2003, p.23). Thus, a presence of the stable association between the sustainable rates of tourist attendance and the publicity created by cultural festivals of this kind may be observed. In particular, the existence of a ‘showcase effect’, as theorised by Hiller (1989), may be invoked here. One should observe that Hiller drew the conclusion on the positive correlation between the holding of the high-profile special events, on the one hand, and the general tourist profile of the region or locality, on the other, pointing at its structural implications. Therefore, the organizing of the community-based special events and festivals may be viewed as having a positive impact on their general visitor attractiveness in the future.
In my opinion, the following observation by may be relevant here. Furthermore, Derrett (2000) noted that “festivals provide what is distinctive about communities with visitors” (p.120). Within the schemes of functional interaction between various aspects of the community-based cultural tourism provided by the author, three main “dynamic features” may be glimpsed: that of “the ‘community’ representing the ‘sense of place’ of residents”, the purely economic tourist exchange sector, and the “elements of image and identity” that serve as the basis of the “message received in the message” (Derrett 2000, p.121). In this interpretation, the community’s cultural identity is actually the derivative of the needs of market-driven tourist strategy employed by the local authorities. Such constructivist approach would turn the policy makers’ attention to the need of drafting the comprehensive tourism management strategies that would account for such phenomena.
Additionally, I should mention that Fredline, Deery, and Jago (2006) put an emphasis on the phenomena connected with the residents’ perception of festivals and similar cultural events. Drawing from the examples of such important Australian festivals as Australia Formula One Grand Prix, Melbourne Moomba Festival (“an outdoor festival held over the Labour Day weekend in March”), and the Horsham Art Is... Festival (“a ten day community celebration” that “showcases performing and visual artists from the Wimmera region”; Fredline, Deery, & Jago 2006, p.5), the authors made a generalized observation that the residents’ perceptions of the effects of different festivals varied in accordance with the latter’s specific features. For instance, the Grand Prix and the Moomba Festival were held in the same city, yet attitudes of the Melbourners with regard to these two events were rather different. The Formula One Grand Prix was found to be “more negative in terms of disruption and noise,” as well as due to its effect of “decreasing the rights and civil liberties of local residents” (Fredline, Deery, & Jago 2006, p.23). On the other hand, the Moomba Festival was “seen as better in terms of the creation of social capital benefits”, i.e. of the communitarian values promotion and “giving residents an opportunity to have fun with their families and friends” (Fredline, Deery, & Jago 2006, p.24).
Still, there were some negative perceptions of the latter events as well, for some residents definitively complained that the audience of the Moomba Festival created certain inconveniences for them and their families, “in terms of the litter generated and the excessive drinking and/or drug use associated with the event” (Fredline, Deery, & Jago 2006, p.23). Thus, while open-access urban festivals may be considered as bringing the respective community benefits, they may also be viewed as disruptive due to the influx of sometimes relaxed and/or noisy visitors. The example of the Horsham Art Is... Festival, which is predominantly rural-based and specifically “aimed at broadening community participation and audience experience” (Fredline, Deery, & Jago 2006, p.6), on the other hand, shows that the residents view such community-oriented events as less deleterious with respect of alcohol and drug consumption impact but are sceptical as to their impact upon the employment generation (p.24). Thus, relative perceptions of these two types of community festivals (i.e. open-access and community-oriented) demonstrate that both of them have their advantages and drawbacks that should be compared when planning for the organizing of such events.
With respect to the Morecambe Town Council-financed projects, I should observe that the majority thereof would be characterized by the same problems befalling the projects referred to in the professional literature reviewed above. Thus, the development and continuation of the tourist-oriented community projects would require the consideration of the benefits and drawbacks of the various types of the festivals under issue.
Socioeconomic Aspects of Event Tourism
The problem of the economic impact of special events and festivals as the form of event tourism would undoubtedly be of the primary interest to the policy makers and community members, as the tourist activities are ultimately evaluated with respect to the revenues generated from them. Therefore, I find it necessary to consider both practical and theoretical viewpoints on this aspect of the research problem.
Several authors’ perspectives may be relevant within the context of this study. For instance, Bond (2008) presents several methodologies for determining the financial and broader economic impact of the event tourism. This would include various forms of visitor expenditure estimation, itself based upon the utilization of the visitor survey methods; the multiplier models the authors whereof seek to determine the processes by which “initial expenditure by visitors permeates through the rest of the economy” (Bond 2008, p.7); the supply-side models (e.g. STEAM) which attempt to use “basic data on visitor numbers and attendance at attractions” (Bond 2008, p.9), as well as similar economic modifiers, to estimate the possible economic effects from tourist expenditure and the employment increases associated with the tourist activities. In particular, such initiatives as the European Capitals of Culture may be partially founded upon the visitor estimations derived from some of such models (Bond 2008, p.10). Hence, the development of the sociologically valid instruments for estimating the number of potential visitors to the tourist attractions would appear to be one of the important aspects of tourist management at large.
The specific expositions of the models mentioned by Bond (2008) may be found in the works by the authors he refers to. For instance, Getz (1994) points that in order to make the most accurate estimations of the prospective visitor expenditures, it is necessary to take into account the mean spending by categories, which is then multiplied in accordance with the number of visitors in question. This would enable the researcher to establish both gross figures and differentiated estimates for the visitors’ spending on the trip.
My viewpoint is that, in case of the Morecambe Town Council projects, such estimates may be used by the researchers and local authorities to plan for the appropriate apparel and similar goods to be included in the official tourist merchandise to be offered to the tourist customers. However, such estimate would be incomplete and partial, for it would not take into consideration some of the more advanced factors of analysis. Hence, the utilization of the additional variables and measures is warranted. Some of them will be referred to below, in order to give the reader better acquaintance with the specific of these models.
The input-output (I-O) models presented in Bond (2008) appear to be connected with the concept of sequential division and matrix unification of the data of the purchases conducted by the tourists under consideration within the respective economic sectors. Hodur and Leistritz (2006) presented a number of the Computable General Equilibrium (GEC) models that are based on the variability of prices and purchase items under consideration. This would allow for the more comprehensive determination of the changes in the tourists’ consumption patterns. Thus, the development of the event tourism management strategies would depend on the proper evaluation of the needs of specific measuring framework’s application.
While such theoretical perspectives may be helpful for understanding the basics of the event tourism management, they should be necessarily supplemented with the corresponding empirical basis. I believe that the case study carried out by Maughan and Bianchini (2004), with the focus on the 2002-2003 East Midlands, may be especially helpful here. The authors attempted to contrast and compare eleven different cultural festivals held in the cities and townships of the region, with a view to presenting and comparing the socio-economic effects thereof. Maughan and Bianchini found that the vast majority of the East Midlands festivals were carried out indoors or in urban setting (206 out of 330 as opposed to 124 for the rural ones; Maughan & Bianchini 2004, p.20), indicating that the focus of the festival organizers was upon the urban audience, rather than the rural one. The majority of festivals were found to have been prepared and organized in accordance with the managerial model that would emphasize such aspects as “investment by the festival in its own development...,” volunteer involvement and empowerment, and the team culture creation (Maughan & Bianchini 2004, p.26).
I would surmise that such outcomes would testify to the greater relevance of the community-centred models and objectives from the perspective of the event tourism management than it would be expected. On the other hand, business communities would be less enthusiastic about the prospects for festival organizing than the volunteer-staffed civil society organization; according to Maughan and Bianchini, the bulk of the average business contributions to the specific festivals did not exceed %u20A45,000 in cash sponsorship (Maughan & Bianchini 2004, p.78). When compared with the festivals’ expenditure requirements, this would often be a rather meagre sum. Hence, the Maughan and Bianchini (2004) study would point at the importance of the civil society efforts for the festivals’ maintenance, stressing the link between festivals and community life at large.
With respect to the Morecambe Town Council-organized festivals and similar events, it is evident to me that the majority of the festivals undertaken by the Council were supported and promoted by the community-based groups and organizations. Therefore, for the purposes of this project, the claim on the instrumental role of a community in the event tourism’s support activities may be deemed to be valid.
The development of the grounded approach to the event tourism management would enable both researchers and policy makers to enhance their understanding of the various aspects of the festivals’ role in this tourism’s field, leading to the implementation of more concrete policies on this issue.
The exploration of the issues raised by the number of the researchers working in the field of tourist management studies would allow the author to draw several important problems conclusions of event tourism management in general and its application to the specific situation of the Morecambe Town Council in particular. The outlining of these conclusions would proceed in accordance with their connection to each of the sections provided above.
The relevance of event tourism, as well as of its more specific festival-based variety, for the development of community identity in the heritage sites and similar locations is indispensable, both from the purely socioeconomic perspective and from the viewpoint of maintaining a cohesive regional or local identity in the context of the current globalization processes. Therefore festivals may be viewed as the means of double perpetuation of the community’s existence: both in socioeconomic and cultural / spiritual planes. The Morecambe Town Council would be advised to persist in organizing the history-specific and community-oriented festivals and similar special events that may be used to prop up the tourist attractiveness profile of the region.
At the same time, festivals may be used to cement the feeling of one’s belonging to the local community. The organization of communitarian festivities would be conducive to the development of the solidarity spirit and the feeling of entrenchment that may be opposed to the widespread sentiment of vulgar individualism and egoism. However, at the same time, the event tourism dependence may lead to significant distortions of the community’s development, and thus should be avoided. In particular, the more rural or regional communities are at risk of such a development, raising the necessity of providing for the balanced and diversified development strategies for the tourism-oriented communities. Further, negative issues that may be partially caused by the excessive growth in special events and festivals’ visitors (e.g. overcrowding or increases in the litter) should be expected and combated, in order to provide the necessary level of satisfaction for both visitors and the host community residents.
Finally, the socioeconomic dimensions of event tourism and festivals should be properly measured and estimated with the use of the statistical and other quantitative methods, in order to evaluate the impact of tourist events on the general economic situation of the region. The examples of the more established festivals and cultural events from both the EU and the USA could be used to draw the preliminary proposals for the development of such evaluative framework. However, one should still bear in mind that the development of arts and community-oriented festivals may not be necessarily causally connected; the more commercial nature of any type of event tourism would exert its impact upon all the forms of creative activities, with the subsequent commoditization of the community’s culture.
In total, the review of the professional literature provided above would attest to the importance of the systematic estimation of the diverse factors that may influence the efficiency of event tourism strategies. Therefore, the research paradigm in this field should consider both socioeconomic and socio-cultural aspects, with the particular emphasis on their possible synergy. The practical and theoretical issues of the event tourism studies are interrelated to such an extent that it would be scarcely possible to separate one from another; this would testify to the inherently empirically oriented nature of the theoretical contributions to this field. The researchers and policy makers should take all these issues into consideration and strive to develop the balanced framework for integrating event tourism with the other value-generating activities.
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