Cultural Tourism Marketing and Communications workshop, Roberta Doyle

Roberta Doyle, Director of External Affairs of the National Theatre of Scotland led a participative workshop during the Opera Europa Conference in Wexford this Autumn. The informal workshop was aimed at marketing and communications staff and its subject was cultural tourism in the context of cultural cities and communities. Around 20 colleagues attended the workshop, from many different backgrounds and nations; their joint creativity led to a stimulating discussion from which emerged common themes which, all agreed, were thought-provoking enough to merit further exploration in the future.

The session began with Roberta sharing the “Cardiff Declaration”, a statement of consensus published in 2005 by the influential European Cultural Tourism Network, which sets out the key principles behind an agreed definition of cultural tourism. They include:

  • Cultural tourism must be founded on quality and authenticity and encompass the contemporary as well as the historical
  • Cultural Tourism needs to benefit to a greater extent from the efforts of applied research in areas such as management tools and good governance
  • There should be a better understanding of visitor needs, to ensure that the visitor has a quality overall experience
  • Measures to support cultural diversity and sustainable development including initiatives that reinforce a sense of place

The Wexford workshop participants then explored examples of existing European initiatives in the area of cultural tourism including some in the non-arts sector such as the US National Basketball Association, the Barbados Tourism Agency and a group of Higher Education organisations.  Examples were presented  to demonstrate that many industries already successfully operate pan-European initiatives and projects and that therefore the European opera companies might wish to consider a similar approach in terms of highly fundable joint cultural tourism  proposals.

The workshop group then undertook a practical exercise, for 20 minutes, in small groups of 4/5 colleagues. While the subsidiary objective of this exercise was to promote co-operation and to exchange knowledge and experience, the groups were given a defined assignment  to which they were asked to respond. The brief was “work in groups to devise a transnational European opera/cultural tourism initiative” and the key tasks were

  • What is the mission for this?
  • What are the three key objectives?
  • Create three key top-line strategies to achieve objectives
  • How will this be resourced?
  • How will you know if it has worked?

The groups then reported back to the full workshop a on series of fascinating and inspiring cultural tourism projects that they had brain-stormed. These included a pan-European credit card for opera and a joint online destination which would feature bespoke content aimed at the cultural tourist.

It was enthusiastically agreed by the group that there was enormous food for thought in the various discussions the participants at the workshop had enjoyed and that perhaps, via Opera Europa, some of the topics highlighted could be revisited by the Marketing and Communications Committee in the near future.