Table of content:
3.1 Relationship between attractions and destinations in general
3.2 Classification of attractions
3.3 Special issues for attraction management
4.1. Description of Dublin as a tourism destination
4.2 Events and festivals in Dublin
4.2.1 Analysis of events and festivals in Dublin as visitor attractions
4.2.2 Importance of events and festivals for the destination
4.2.3 Usage of events and festivals to create a ‘Dublin image’
4.2.4 Challenges in managing festivals and events as visitor attractions
4.3 Perspective for Dublin as a tourism destination
When thinking of Ireland many people might see an image of the ‘green island’ or the ‘smaller brother’ of the UK, but especially Dublin has much more to offer for tourists, who value the city’s attractions and specialities highly.
Dublin is one of Europe’s oldest capitals, encompassing not only historical sites and governmental institutions, but also a magnificent physical setting with the Dublin Bay, Wicklow Mountains and the River Liffey as natural attractions, as well as diverse cultural sites and institutions like museums and art galleries, St. Audoen’s Church and Ireland’s largest church, the Christ Church Cathedral, and Dublin Castle as one of the most important historic sites (Ireland Funds – Destination Dublin 2008).
Dublin is shaped by its history going back about 1000 years when the city was a Viking settlement. Traces from the Medieval and Georgian time can be found in the capital’s architecture. In the time of the Anglo-Norman invasion Dublin became famous for its port. Streets, fine squares and graceful bridges range back to the 18th century, when Dublin experienced a phase of rapid growth in size and population (Ireland Funds – Destination Dublin 2008).
Today there are just over 1.1 million people living in Dublin County, while the city is able to attract about four times as many visitors each year made up from a wide cross-section of market segments. Visitors are attracted by the elegance of the city, its atmosphere and nightlife, and the ‘craic’, that make Dublin special. Beside numerous visitor attractions tourists come to visit Grafton Street, the commercial and social centre of Dublin, see the stylish Georgian streets and the graceful terraced houses with their central gardens, or relax in one of the large parks or botanical gardens (Ireland Funds – Destination Dublin 2008).
Implications resulting of Dublin’s position as one of the top city break destinations in Europe (Ireland Funds – Destination Dublin 2008) will be discussed later in this assignment.
To keep its position as a successful tourism destination Dublin has to develop visitor attractions that can meet the needs of the varying tourist segments coming to the city. Therefore the city created a wide attraction landscape ranging from traditional entertainment over museums and heritage centres, and historic sites and buildings, to parks and gardens and different wildlife attractions. Furthermore Dublin provides numerous arts venues, specific areas in the city which are from particular interest for visitors, traditional cafes and restaurants, as well as a huge amount of activity attractions and themed walks and trails in the city. Craft outlets and specialist retailers as well as the pub heritage in Dublin and brewery and distillery centres are further attractions. Of course there are also coach tours of Dublin and of its surrounding area provided for tourists (Horner & Swarbrooke 2003).
From particular interest for this assignment are special events and festivals hold in Dublin, which help to make Dublin a truly all year round destination (Horner & Swarbrooke 2003). In the analysis following in this assignment the question shall be answered of: how events can contribute to the overall success of Dublin as a tourism destination? Therefore different theories will be used to analyse the specialities of Dublin as a tourism destination as well as its unique attraction landscape.
The focus on events and festivals for Dublin as a tourism destination is chosen as those seem to offer many benefits for the city and might be able to act as a tourism driver in its own right (e.g. visitors that come to see the Rugby Championships - O’Hagan et al. 1989 cited in Quinn 2006).
To become able to answer the problem formulation and evaluate on how events contribute to the success of Dublin as a tourism destination some theoretical insights will be provided. Those describe the relationship between destinations and attractions, ways to classify attractions and special management issues that need to be taken into consideration. The analysis starts with a description of Dublin as a tourism destination. Special emphasis is taken on the implications of Dublin being one of Europe’s top city break destinations. The special ‘attraction landscape’ that attracts tourists to Dublin is described as well. Special focus in the analysis is put on the importance of festivals and events to attract customers to the city and to help to create a ‘Dublin brand’. After those issues are analysed perspectives will be given in respect to Dublin as a tourism destination, the future of its attractions and of festivals and events in particular. Concluding this project assignment, personal reflections regarding Dublin and its attractions will be given.
Different scientific essays provide the basis for all theoretical considerations, like tourism destinations and their relationship towards attractions, city-break tourism and specific issues important for successfully managing visitor attractions. In relation to the case of Dublin statistics from the National Tourism Organisation will be used, as well as various scientific analyses of the Dublin case.
This project assignment is a case study, which means the findings from the analysis cannot be generalised. Nevertheless the theoretical considerations might be applied in similar form to comparable tourism destinations.
3.1 Relationship between attractions and destinations in general
Before the relationship between attraction and tourism destination can be described it is important to understand what a destination is and what it makes special. According to Pike (2008:24) a destination is a geographical space that contains a cluster of tourism resorts (including tourist resources and attractions, infrastructures, equipments, service providers, other support sectors and administrative organisms) that contribute all together to the experience the customer expected from visiting the particular destination (Rubbies 2001 cited in Pike 2008:24).
From a demand perspective destinations can be seen as places attracting visitors for a temporary stay. They range from continents to countries, from states to provinces, from cities to villages and to purpose built resort areas or uninhabited islands (Pike 2008:24/25).
The destination framework can therefore be summed up in accommodations (the tourist resorts), amenities (e.g. service providers), attractions, access (e.g. the infrastructure) and ancillary services (support sectors and administrative organisms) (Pike 2008:24/25). Therefore visitor attractions are an essential part of implementing a tourism destination.
But why do attractions exist? What do their owners want to achieve with their implementation? Swarbrooke (2000 cited in Fyall et al. 2008:10) formulates a main objective of attractions as a motivator to make people choose the particular destination for a visit or to revisit the destination. Attractions act as key products when marketing a tourism destination. They do not only attract tourists to a destination, but also businesses. Another function of attractions is the information of the general public and the creation of knowledge for researchers
Fyall et al. (2008:17) claim that some hallmark activities become specific to the location at which they are held. This helps branding the destination as some of the most spectacular events (e.g. the Rio Carnival) become associated with major cities. The reason why most of those events take place in major destinations are the large home market, a strong economic base and the cities’ desire to support the increasing popularity of such festivals.
Quinn (2006) found not only a relationship of dependence of destinations to attractions but also of attractions to destinations. She uses the term ‘festival tourism’ as an expression of this relationship. Quinn states as key assumptions that festivals strive to function as tourist attractions and that tourists may be attracted to a destination because of the festivals it offers. Many festivals are marketed as tourist attractions and can therefore draw definable tourist flows. According to Quinn festivals possess social and cultural complexity. They help to redefine places and offer a sense of belonging. Uysal & Gitleton (1994 cited in Quinn 2006) define festivals as ‘traditional events staged to increase the tourism appeal to potential visitors’. But festivals do more than just generating income. They are devices of social sustainability, which help people to express their identities, connect themselves with their place and to communicate with the outside world (Quinn 2006). Festivals also contribute to sustainable tourism by sustaining communities.
Urban development and the development of a place identity are further contributions of festivals (Quinn 2006). They can not only generate wealth, but help to improve infrastructure and increase the level of demand and supply for the specific kind of activities in the area (e.g. attract culture interested visitors and increase the number of arts exhibitions and the like – Quinn 2006).
A danger that occurs when festivals strive for international dimensions in their programmes, audiences or repute, is the risk of loosing focus on local resources and cultural needs (Quinn 2006).
It is not only tourism that relies on festivals, but also festivals that need a growing tourist demand to increase revenue flows and survive as economically viable entities (Quinn 2006). Tourism also helps to sustain the original vision of festivals and can enhance the position of festivals as tourist attractions worthy of state support. Corporate sponsors can be attracted as well.
Tourists seek festivals not only for the ‘product’ itself, but also to ‘feel’ the destination and get a glimpse into the authentic culture of the place. Festivals on the other hand value visitor audiences as new forms of demand, as sources of increased box office income and as a way to improve their reputation (Quinn 2006).
3.2 Classification of attractions
Fyall et al. (2008:16) offer a definition of visitor attractions as activities focused on recreation or education undertaken by day and stay visitors and frequently shared with the domestic population. Success of particular attractions is measured by the number of visitors, whereby the overall aim is to create memorable mood benefits for the customers that lead to repeat visits and/or positive recommendations.
As there are numerous attractions that differ in many dimensions different frameworks for classification are introduced by Fyall et al. (2008:17). One dimension is the ownership, private or public owned attractions. Further dimensions are the capacity (number of visitors), market or catchment area (primary or secondary) and permanency (e.g. temporary attractions/events). Further ways to distinguish attractions are by type (natural or built/ man-made or free or paid for). Those dimensions are important issues in terms of managing visitor attractions successful.
Another way of attraction differentiation is the source of the idea for the particular attraction. According to Fyall et al. (2008:26) this differentiation ranges from ‘me too’ attractions with a current image in a current market, about ‘new version’ attractions operating in a new market with a current image and ‘grand inspiration’ attractions using a new image in an existing market, to ‘wonder’ attractions, which do not only have a new image, but are also operating in a new market.
Long (2008) gives a classification of events and festivals as a focus of this project paper depending on the content of the particular event/festival. He differentiates between celebrations of particular cultural identities, including religious ceremonies and the like, arts events, including exhibitions, shows or installations, state and political occasions, in which politicians interact with the community in a special way, and business conferences and events with cultural aspects, sport, educational and scientific events. All of these forms of events can contribute to tourism in a specific form, as they attract different groups of participants not only within tourists.
3.3 Special issues for attraction management
The Management of attractions has some special issues that shall be summarised here.
The first issue mentioned by Fyall et al. (2008:18) is the intangibility that is a main characteristic of all service offerings. Many attractions, like events and festivals or exhibitions, are intangible (they might have some tangible features like souvenirs that visitors can take with them), while others, like museums or national and historic sites are more tangible (eventhough they might have some intangible elements like guided tours).
For successful attraction management not only the attraction itself, the core product, but also peripheral services like catering need to be taken into consideration (Fyall et al. 2008:19).
When managing attractions, persons in charge need to draw new visitors and businesses to the attraction and attract repeat visitors. They furthermore have to set standards for performance and monitor constantly whether those standards were met. It is also important to be able to react to changing customer needs and expectations to achieve long term success (Fyall et al. 2008:40).
Particular challenges for attraction management are changes within domestic markets ranging from new trends and changes in demographics to new competitors and ‘new’ visitors. Fyall et al. (2008:151/152) describe them has more thoughtful, with a focus on added value, with a strengthened interest in active leisure offers instead of passive and smarter and more sophisticated than before.
It is particularly important to know how visitors decide about ‘consuming’ an attraction. Every visitor creates an own image of the attraction in his mind and, when this image is positively valued and interpreted, decides to visit the attraction (Fyall et al. 2008:152).
It is not only important to know own visitors quite well, but also to be aware of direct and indirect competitors. Those might be particular strong in times of immense public and EU funding (Fyall et al. 2008:41). For private owned attractions it might be especially hard to compete against public owned attractions, which can often offer free admissions, while private owned attractions need to finance themselves.
To create a successful attraction focus is a key element. Attraction managers need to know and define their product very well, have a clear idea of people needed for their success (employees and visitors), be aware of pricing issues, especially compared to other attractions in the market, and have a clear marketing strategy, as this is the key to reach potential visitors (Fyall et al. 2008:41).
Another way to generate long term success is by controlling factors that often cause business failure, like accounting problems, ineffective marketing strategies, poor finance, the behaviour of the owner/manager or other internal factors like excessive drawings, nepotism or negligence. External factors like the effects of the economic environment or changes in the industry or market can cause business failure as well (Fyall et al. 2008:44).
Authenticity and seasonality are further challenges for attraction management. Managers need to know what visitors value as authentic visitor attractions and how such attractions can be created. They furthermore need to consider the indigenous cultures that might be affected by tourism in the area and how those can survive. A balance must be found between tourism and the protection of ethnicity and it needs to be analysed how those indigenous groups can profit from tourism in their area (Fyall et al. 2008:133).
 IrishE, informal: a good time; friendly, enjoyable talk
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