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Tourism in Western Europe: A Collection of Case Histories
Richard Voss provides an interesting collection of case studies on Western European tourism development. Case studies are well organized into three thematic areas based on political, economic and socio-cultural contexts. The collection of stories interacts with changes in tourism development and practices and reflects how tourism development explores new ways of thinking about tourism. Vose concluded that the tourism experience on the part of tourists shows signs of active decision-making with passive consumption. This point prompts the reader to consider that tourists choose “canned” experiences that are creatively produced, however accessed through extensive information seeking and decision making.
The case studies are written by a variety of authors who have strong local ties to the places they write about, enabling extraordinary insight into tourism industry issues in Europe and North America (although North America is not the focus of this book). This book can be used in tourism development courses to help students identify current issues in tourism (eg, environmental challenges, sustainability, conservation approaches) and to develop definitions and theoretical models in tourism.
In his introduction, Wose states that the analysis or interpretation of cases is based on the political, economic, socio-cultural and technological environment. This analysis captures cultural and social factors related to the multifaceted nature of tourism production and current thinking, which affects how tourism develops. Such ideologies are associated with prevailing postmodernist approaches that influence consumer behavior, which involves experiential consumption rather than the production process of products or services.
There are eleven chapters in the book. The first four chapters are approached through the lens of political context analysis. Methan’s first chapter outlines the role of tourism marketing and public policy in Devon and Cornwall, England. Methan concluded that for these two countries “marketing was one aspect of a broader integrated strategy aimed at integrating tourism more fully into the regional economy” and that these programs would not have been possible without European Union (EU) funding. “The cases of Devon and Cornwall also show how new institutional forms emerge in response to wider structural change”.
Chapter 2, by Morpeth, focuses on the role of leisure and tourism as political tools in Britain in the 1980s. Central and local governments used leisure and recreation policies as an extension of urban policy to counterbalance the negative effects of unemployment and structural problems evident in England in the 1980s. Morpeth discusses the case of Middlesbrough town and the role of Thatcherism policies on the town, which focused on the creation of inner cities and the use of tourism as a means of regeneration.
Chapter 3, by Voase, discusses the impact of political, economic and social changes on mature tourism; Isle of Thanet in southeast England. Vose concludes that the process of developing tourism policy, planning and development in a mature destination is not always straightforward. Antagonistic politics between stakeholders involved in tourism development led to inconsistencies regarding destination development. Chapter 4, by Robledo and Battle, focuses on Mallorca as a case study for repositioning tourism development for a mature destination using Butler’s (1980) product life cycle concept. As a mature destination, Mallorca needs a sustainable development strategy to survive in the future. This recognition led the Balearics Island Government’s Ministry of Tourism to establish tourism supply-side regulation to protect the environment. However, this plan, as identified by Robledo and Bade, is an interesting case of conflict between different groups (ie government, environmental groups, councils, hoteliers, construction industry) protecting their interests in tourism development. Voase’s first four chapters have three common elements: the role and interaction of local levels of government in policy formulation and implementation, the role of politics as a vehicle for the promotion and management of economic interests, and social influence. – Cultural factors. Although these common elements are not directly apparent in the case studies presented, Voss fills the gap with his writing. These common elements can stimulate further discussion about the role of politics in tourism and how policy can affect researchers and practitioners in the field.
The second part of the book focuses on the economic context of tourism and its use as a regeneration and wealth creation tool. Chapter 5, by Lewis, focuses on two agri-environment schemes, Tir Simon and Tir Gofal, and how they have affected access to recreation in rural Wales. This chapter shows how these schemes brought about many changes to agricultural practices in Wales. These changes have positively impacted recreational opportunities in heavily agricultural areas and “changed the relationship between rural and new demands for urban and rural access, all of which now reflect the interdependence of environmental health, local social and economic needs, and access to land for recreation”.
Chapter 6, by Lindroth and Soislon-Sonimen, discusses how a historical tourism product was developed in Lovisa, Finland. The goal of the tourism development was to create an image of Loviisa as a historical tourist destination and create new products in line with the historical theme. Lindroth and Soisalon-Soinimen recognized that development would not have progressed significantly without the support of the Tourism Office, as well as the National Board of Antiquities. Also, European Union funding helped with training and expert support. Professionals and project leaders involved in the process shaped the project through their energetic actions detailed in the case studies.
Chapter 7, by Bohn and Elbe, describes the story of one man and how his vision transformed the town into a tourist destination for the municipality of Alvdalen, Sweden. The most important element of this story is that this man created a destination without being an expert in the field of tourism development. He used the current idea of relationship marketing to achieve successful growth without realizing its full value as a marketing tool. This chapter highlights the importance of cooperation between stakeholders involved in tourism. Voase identifies elements that the three cases share: the role of the individual entrepreneur in product development, the use of natural resources, and tourism focusing on the heritage of the past.
The third part of the book focuses on the socio-cultural context of tourism in four case studies. Chapter 8, by Finn, discusses European football’s transition from being a fan’s game to a spectator sport. Finn identifies current sport marketing approaches, which create a product or experience where the fan’s identity does not match current “civilized” consumption processes, and instead, the audience’s identity matches the images and processes promoted by sport marketers inside and outside of football. Stadium
Chapter 9, by Baron-Yales, focuses on the politics of tourism and nature-based tourism and how the ‘Grand Sight National at La Pointe du Raz’ changed tourism provision services and infrastructure to meet tourist demands. In this chapter, readers can observe the trade-offs between natural resources and the provision of tourism experiences. This case study also shows how the destination responded to stakeholder views on coastal conservation, public access and acceptable visitation levels.
Chapter 10, by Lohmann and Mundt, focuses on mature markets for cultural tourism in Germany. The chapter discusses how tourism shapes culture through the exchange of experiences between travelers and residents of a destination. Tourism and tourism are elements of culture. Lohmann and Mund concluded that travel became an important part of people’s lives and in turn exposed them to other cultures, which could affect their own.
Chapter 11, by East and Luger, focuses on youth culture and tourism development in the Austrian mountains. East and Luger share interesting insights into youth reactions and behavioral adjustments to tourists. They note that tourists are more respected among young people involved in tourism through family businesses. Rural youth appeared to be interested in urban experiences.
Vose concludes that there are three underlying themes in these four final chapters. The first theme is that the experience of consumption is staged or constructed. This theme brings to mind McConnell’s (1976) notion of front and back stage realities. The forward phase is the presentation of the destination to the visitors, while the backward phase is the actual or true appearance of the destination. Another theme is that commercialization and commodification are not synonymous. A third theme is the use of environment to influence people. Vose explains how the atmosphere of the game has changed and so has the audience.
Overall, the book is useful for practitioners and academics as it provides case studies offered by people closely associated with the tourism industry, thus providing an insider’s view. Both practitioners and academics in resort tourism marketing, Vos effectively brings together case studies that focus on Western European tourism and interact with concepts that shift ‘old’ tourism principles to ‘new’ ones. His introduction to the collection of each chapter (i.e. economic, political and socio-cultural) is insightful. The VoS, however, does not discuss the introduction of the euro currency in January 2002. This is a significant change in the economic structure of all EU member countries and their socio-cultural development. The interconnection of EU countries through a common currency can create a sense of greater community, potentially influencing tourism through the cultural, social, political and economic means of EU member states.
Finally, Vose’s concluding section is insightful. Its findings identify demographic, environmental and consumer trends that will influence tourism in Western Europe in the 21st century. He concluded that aging population, global warming and active and passive consumer segments are the factors of ‘new’ tourism. All three trends will potentially influence future research in the field of tourism development and marketing. Both practitioners and practitioners should be aware of this trend. Vos makes a meaningful contribution as a practitioner and academic through these themed case studies and by identifying key themes and trends in tourism in Western Europe.
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