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Culturelink Joint Publications Series

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Summary Report

The two day seminar Culture: A Driving Force for Urban Tourism - Application of Experiences to the Countries in Transition was divided into three main sessions, two of which were held in one day: Cultural Tourism as a Niche Market: Culture - Basic Resource for Urban Tourism and Best Practice Examples in Urban Tourism Management. The second day of the seminar was foreseen as a round table discussion on the subject of Round Table: Croatian Challenges and Prospects for Cultural Tourism Development in Croatia. The report on the session follows.

The seminar was opened by its organizer, Daniela Angelina Jelinčić who stressed the circumstances in which this seminar was organized: Croatia recognized the subject of cultural tourism as a very important one to be developed both as a research theme as well as in practice, in its managerial aspect.

The Minister of Culture, Dr Antun Vujić mentioned that the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Tourism have agreed upon stronger cooperation and this was the first initiative of this kind at state level. This shows the recognition of the importance of coordination in this field in order to avoid mistakes in planning cultural tourism programmes and to stimulate initiatives starting from the highest level.

Mrs Pave Župan Rusković, the Minister of Tourism stressed the importance of cultural tourism development for its well-educated actors - cultural tourism earns significant profit since visitors interested in culture spend more money in hotels, restaurants and generally are greater spenders than the average tourist. A promotional film was shown presenting the Croatian potential.

Mrs Aida Cvjetković, on behalf of the County of Dubrovnik and Neretva Prefect also addressed the audience as well as Mr Vido Bogdanović, the mayor of Dubrovnik city.

Mr Vjekoslav Vierda, the Director of the Institute for the Restoration of Dubrovnik and co-organizer of the seminar wished for a happy marriage between the culture and tourism.

The first session Cultural Tourism as a Niche Market: Culture - Basic Resource for Urban Tourism was opened by Daniela Angelina Jelinčić of Culturelink/Institute for International Relations in Zagreb. In her presentation Croatian Cultural Tourism Development Strategy, Mrs Jelinčić outlined the principles underlying the development policy: to use local resources wherever possible and to be distinctively Croatian. The objectives, besides increasing the number of visitors, are: extending the season, extending the geographical base beyond the seacoast into the hinterlands, guaranteeing sustainability and encouraging micro-business development and economic prosperity. The issue of sector coordination seems obvious and a sine qua non but so far it has hardly been present in Croatia. The successful strategy cannot be created within the framework of one sector, for example tourism or culture, separately. The key word here is multidisciplinarity. Also an intersectoral approach within the framework of culture itself should be considered. If tourist programmes are coordinated among various cultural institutions and events in the destination, such as between museums, galleries, libraries, theatres, cinemas, etc. it will not be difficult to create a common package to be supplied for tourists to get to know the cultural life of a community. Strategy creation, therefore, should focus on the use of distinctively Croatian local resources, and encourage decentralization of culture and tourism, coordination of cultural and tourist sectors, and an intrasectoral approach within the sector of culture.

In her paper, Croatian Tourism: Consuming Culture, Affirming Identity Renata Fox demonstrates two complementary processes: shaping of Croatian culture for tourism and shaping of Croatian tourism for culture. While cultural tourism is often seen as otherness exchanged for money, the process is rather more complex, often lacking harmony and mutual cultural understanding. It is important, emphasized Fox, that Croatia be not discouraged by the Janus face of culture commodification. On the one hand, cultures - essentially living and learning forms - do tend to become subject to consumerism, lose their social role, their political function and their authenticity. The presentation of cultural artefacts for consumption, however, is identity affirming and liberating, which is especially important for cultures, such as the Croatian one, seeking to explain its traditions and values. Ultimately, the success of Croatian (cultural) tourism is subject to broader political and economic developments. If Croatia wants to keep up the pace in tourism and hospitality, it will have to entice collaborative processes, develop a more competitive higher education system, aiming to generate change, raise standards, build a new learning culture, and cooperate more intensively with the hospitality industry.

The topic of Frans Schouten's presentation Effective communication with visitors at heritage sites was the importance of challenging communication skills of heritage professionals. Optimal communication will create UNIQUE-experience (Uncommon, Novelty, Informative, Quality, Understanding, Emotion). Special interest tourism - as cultural tourism is - needs excellent product development that distinguishes one destination from other competing destinations. For product development heritage interpretation and quality services are too important to be left to the heritage professionals. Rather, the involvement of the tourism industry and tourism experts is required.

Antonio Paolo Russo suggested that tourism management could follow different philosophies, however, in a contemporary city it needs to be competitive, creative and flexible. Tourism governance is about bringing people together and bridging those gaps that risk to undermine the long-term socio-economic viability of cultural tourism: between producers and suppliers, between producers of different goods, between governments and governed, between host and guest communities. In a 'cluster environment', the organization of the industry is germane to such encounters. The telecom infrastructure is an ideal media to achieve some of the 'traditional' goals of tourism management (e.g. flow regulation, destination marketing, advance booking, etc.), enhancing at the same time the cohesion between different players in the system.

In her presentation, Cultural Tourism in the Transitional City, Priscilla Boniface evaluated the predominant aspects and determining issues which affect the establishment of cultural tourism as an activity on the transitional scene. Her presentation involved portrayal of the key elements likely to demand particular attention during a time of transition. She emphasized the need to consider the total situation, know the aims that cultural tourism is hoped to achieve within it, be aware of context in tourism terms and decide what is suitable to give space and recognition to all participants, cultures and players.

There is little doubt, as argued by Howard Hughes, that tourists can be attracted by theatre and music. People will travel to see the arts if the product has sufficient drawing-power. To attract arts-core tourists, the arts need to be 'distinctive', which means: not being available elsewhere in the form of the production, the performers or the quality, convenient for potential audiences to purchase the product, having supporting infrastructure. There is, however, a danger of market saturation, the regeneration aspect of using the arts to generate tourism is difficult to demonstrate, the incorporation of the arts into tourism strategies raises many additional issues including the meaning and significance of the arts.

There may be no easy solution to satisfactorily reconciling tourism with history and the arts but, at the least, it is necessary to expose, recognize and explore the issues. The arts are too important to treat as just another industry or tourist resource and they require sympathetic consideration from all who deal with them or seek to gain financial benefit from them.

In his paper The Place of Textile in Cultural Tourism Roland Delbaere focused on a methodological approach to textile tourism with the possibility of application to other cultural sectors, such as technology, science or historical memory. He briefly presented the review of the international research in the area of textile tourism in the past fifteen years following the intercontinental Silk Route project of UNESCO. The topic proper of his presentation is focused on a methodological approach to textile tourism which can be applied to other cultural sectors, including technology, science or historical memory, and which can serve as the basis for the elaboration of a valid and user-friendly cultural tourism policy. Textile can combine with other crafts and art itineraries, textile trails can be partly based on heritage and partly on recreation. Textile is as indispensable as music in folklore and regional identity festivities. As the first extension of our skin, textile occupies an important place in our daily life. It can also become a new key to read the town and landscape heritage, and a new viewpoint is always stimulating.

Franco Bianchini of the De Montfort University, Great Britain, presented the paper on The Contribution of Cultural Planning to Urban Tourism Strategies. Careful strategic planning and management is needed, according to Mr Bianchini. He questioned the use of Kotler's destination marketing as the best approach to the development of European cities, since Kotler's model is originally developed for American destinations.

Christina Quijano Caballero explored ways and policies to ensure that food is an integral part of the tourist's cultural experience. Cuisine identifies a region and its characteristics, it gives a nation its identity and must be considered an integral part of a specific culture. It is part of both our tangible and intangible heritage. The history of civilization is interwoven with the history of food. Not only is cuisine an art, whether it be the preparation of a simple dish or fabulous feast, but it has also proved to be an inspiration and indeed a necessity in developing other aspects of culture.

The original reason for travel or movement of peoples was a search for greener pastures and basic food items. Eventually with the development of agriculture peoples settled and there were other reasons for travel, mainly for trade, firstly in essential goods such as salt and other natural resources. As new products and goods, as well as new ideas, were exchanged, a new traveller was born, and a new industry.

The first session of the seminar has shown that there is a great awareness both in the international academic community and in the tourist industry of the increasing importance of various aspects of culture in the global tourism industry. The new tourists are seeking diversity and cultural difference. Functioning within an increasingly competitive environment, host countries, Croatia among them, will have to work on their development, imaging and uniqueness.

A city tour guided by Vjekoslav Vierda, the director of the Institute for the Restoration of Dubrovnik followed, where participants were able to find out about cultural management of the historic city centre and its presentation for tourism. It was a very professional, interesting and vivacious city tour.

The second session Best practice examples in urban tourism management was opened by Fien Meiersonne of the European Leisure and Recreation Association, the Netherlands. The paper entitled The secrets of Holland presented a project of six old Dutch cities (Delft, Dordrecht, Gouda, Haarlem, Leiden and Schiedam), which decided in 1995 to start cooperation as cultural-historic destinations. Fien Meiresonne presented the project from its start to its realization concluding with bottlenecks and learning points. Some other examples were also presented, emphasizing cooperation as the main factor in tourist planning. In the author's opinion, Croatian cities like Dubrovnik, Split, Zadar and maybe Pula could consider thinking and acting along the same lines as has been done in the Netherlands.

Following the case of the Netherlands, Vesna Borković-Vrtiprah and Ivo Ban of the Faculty of Tourism and Foreign Trade, Dubrovnik, presented the case of the city of Dubrovnik in their paper The Role of Cultural Heritage in Tourism. They claim that the kind of potential that Dubrovnik's tourist supply offers should be made better use of, as Dubrovnik, with its attractive natural and cultural rarities, has the possibility of achieving appropriate originality and variety in comparison to competitive destinations. In terms of heritage, and despite the fact that Dubrovnik only receives a small portion of the total European cultural tourism market, Dubrovnik can offer a significant potential founded on the diversity and richness of its historic, monumental and artistic resources. The paper presented some statistical data on tourist traffic in the Dubrovnik area and tourist motives for coming as well as tourist visits to cultural institutions. It was concluded that in future, culture should take on a more significant position in the tourist supply of Dubrovnik while marketing activities should be directed towards this objective. It is important for cultural attractions to be managed with expertise and long-term know-how because only culture that is treated as a function of tourism in the highest measure possible can give the maximum economic effects.

Tonka Pančić-Kombol of the Collegium Fluminensis Polytechnic of Rijeka, Croatia presented the paper Culture as a Basic Resource for City Tourism in Croatia. She gave a brief history of the neglected policy for city tourism in Croatia as a tourism potential, except for certain coastal cities which were transformed into tourism resorts. Cultural heritage could be used as a very strong tourist product element in the development of city tourism through which Croatia could gain and confirm its identity on the international level and in the tourist market. In this sense cities are in need of fundamental research and development projects. Actual attempts to start up working groups in Rijeka, Karlovac and Osijek confirm the willingness of many professionals to contribute to projects, which encourage tourism development in their cities. Also, it has been confirmed that these cities have significant cultural heritage, which has never been regarded with concern as a tourism resource in city development plans.

Lorena Boljunčić and Doris Cerin Otočan both provided case studies of Istria since they work for the Istria County Tourist Association as part-time collaborators for cultural tourism. The topic of Lorena Boljunčić's presentation was Cultural Tourism in Destination presenting the history of the slow development of selective tourism beginning from the mid1990s when new tourist products were being developed, such as wine roads, agricultural tourism, bicycle tracks. Also the rich Istrian cultural heritage is being regarded as an excellent tourist resource. Creating better conditions in the destination itself and a more systematic use of cultural resources in promotion outside the destination are the basic activities needed for the good packaging of a tourist product. Careful dealing with cultural inheritance must be present even outside tourist frameworks - by reconstructing cultural monuments we are not only creating better conditions for cultural tourism, but are also improving our surroundings.

Doris Cerin Otočan, as a marketing manager of The Istrian National Theatre in Pula, had the opportunity to present us with the practical issues of Cultural Tourism in the Region of Istria: Interregional and International Cooperation. Earlier, the cultural policy of the Region of Istria (County of Istria) was based on implementing cultural management exclusively within the boundaries of cultural institutions. However, in the present economic and cultural surrounding the cultural dimension does not succeed in manifesting itself through its own resources. For that reason many other strategies of development have been devised, for example stronger connection between culture on one side and tourism and economy on the other (rural tourism and entrepreneurship), and between culture and traffic. With its multiculturality and multi-ethnicity and with a qualified personnel, Istria could compete vigorously with other west European countries or regions, in the first place as a touristic destination based on cultural tourism.

A quite distant case study from the Gold Coast, Australia, was provided by Renata Tomljenović of the Institute for Tourism, Zagreb. The title Sun, Sea, Sand and Culture: Compatible? reveals the possibility of cultural tourism development at mass tourism destinations.

Ian Jenkins and Andrew Jones of the School for Leisure and Tourism, Swansea Institute, Great Britain, presented an interesting paper entitled The Importance of Cultural Niche Markets to Wales Urban Tourism Products. In a detailed theoretical approach to cultural tourism, they claim that the concept of a niche has changed. The implications of this in their paper are that the niche sells the location, and not the other way around. They evaluate festivals, events and literature in urban tourism and review the tourism product within Wales and Swansea. The case studies of the Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas, and Welsh Festivals, namely the Swansea Bay Summer Festivals are examined. In conclusion, tourism niches clearly have the potential to capitalize upon the current splintering of market segments and may well play a far more significant role in tourism's future developments.

As the second session presented the best practice examples, it was an excellent introduction for the second day Round Table: Croatian Challenges and Prospects for Cultural Tourism Development in Croatia. The round table moderator, Tomislav Šola introduced participants to issues typical for countries in transition, and a few practical presentations from participants followed. The discussion concerned very practical issues of management of cultural institutions for Croatian tourism. The ever present lack of funds in transitional countries, issues of decentralization, lack of coordination between sectors or within sectors, lack of cultural management education, the socialist legacy in decision making and management issues were discussed. Tourist workers asked cultural workers to be more cooperative, with more flexible working hours and a detailed programme not subject to change. A lot of barriers are present - legal, financial or organizational, which prevent cultural institutions from being fully used in order to contribute to tourist needs to the maximum.

The seminar was closed with the unanimous outcome: the need and wish to meet again and to make such seminars become a tradition.

 


 
 
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