IMPROVING TOURISM RESEARCH Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Travelling Fellowship Report John Brackstone

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1 IMPROVING TOURISM RESEARCH Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Travelling Fellowship Report John Brackstone Outline Having been fortunate enough to have been awarded a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Travelling Fellowship I undertook a trip to Australia and New Zealand between the 12 th November, 2007 and the 18 th January, During this time I visited (among other minor destinations); Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide, Auckland, Brisbane and The Gold Coast. When considering this report there were three key areas I wanted the opportunity to talk about, these were: the overall experience of the trip (in the context of the key locations), the topics covered with the people whom I spent time with and the outcomes. Introduction I currently work for Bournemouth University in a role that allows me, primarily, to offer tourism research services and advice to the public and third sectors. It has been noted that tourism research in Australia and New Zealand is in many ways very advanced and that some of the skills and techniques used there would be applicable in the UK. Based on this, I arranged to meet with key researchers both in Universities and the public sector to discuss their techniques and the possible application of them in the UK. Experience Following dispute between Sydney (New South Wales) and Melbourne (Victoria) a new capital, in a new federal territory, was agreed in The name Canberra comes from the Aboriginal word Canberry meaning meeting place. This photo is taken from the Australian War Memorial looking down Anzac Parade over Lake Burley Griffin, past Old Parliament House to New Parliament House. Anzac Parade, with War Memorials along its length, is a place for reflection and provides a snapshot of Australia and indeed the world at war. Canberra s totally planned manmade environment (including the lake) suits its function as a seat of government but has left many feeling cold towards it. While there, I was given a backstage tour of parliament including John Howard s office, just days before he left power, and the aboriginal embassy (an informal embassy that camps on the lawn of Parliament House)!

2 Travel between Canberra and Melbourne is often a simple two hour flight. The decision to undertake the journey by train caused many people to ask if it could actually be done that way (the answer is yes, though it requires a section to be done by bus, and you would only ever want to do it once). The culture and friendly busyness of Melbourne instantly makes visitors feel at home and the food of Queen s Street Market makes you want to stay. It felt alive and vital, especially when compared to the sleepy empty feel that hangs over Canberra. The free Tourist Tram (below) takes visitors on a circular route around the city and past many of the places of interest. Right is a shot tower, originally it used gravity to make lead shot perfectly spherical. Now it s a shop inside a shopping centre.

3 Adelaide is just a few miles from the sea (above) and some of Australia s best wine producing areas (below). But the city rises like a pimple when arriving by air with the high rise in the centre gradually giving way to low rise on the periphery. The city itself is uninviting but provides the gateway to a host of the most amazing experiences whether it s walking on the beach or tasting wine in the hills.

4 I was invited for dinner in Brisbane and took this photo (right) towards the end of the evening. It shows a very reasonable temperature of 21 C but it was taken at 11:58pm and the humidity was about 94% and climbing. It s a city on the cusp of the tropics, and as such is torn between the vast areas of Queensland above it and the relatively densely populated South Eastern corner of Australia below it. This mix, for me, described the people with big city lifestyles but country friendliness. Around Brisbane is just one big playground, from the river, to the beach, bush, islands and sea.

5 The constant rain in Auckland (above) and the Bay of Islands (below) did not dampen my enjoyment of New Zealand. The country left me with a feeling of being at home, but not the home of now, the home of my childhood. The people, especially the Maori, were warm and inviting with little evidence, at least on the surface, of the long running racial tensions.

6 The Australasian lifestyle is a social one that often makes outsiders feel welcome, free gas communal BBQs (below) are sited in many parks and other places of interest. Visitors never need to eat alone but a WCMT Fellowship really does break the ice and people are often more interested and supportive than in the UK. Invitations to stay in the homes of people I visited were common, though when they heard I was keen on cooking I often ended up in the kitchen (below left)! A real highlight was being invited to go on a weekend expedition in a four wheel drive to Rainbow Beach, just north of Brisbane (below right).

7 Topics Alongside the experience of visiting so many interesting places I had the opportunity to speak with professionals at the cutting edge of their field of tourism research. Canberra While in Canberra I spent some time at the University of Canberra among other things I had a chance to talk with them about the visitor surveys that they run; especially those they undertake with visitor attractions. We also talked about the ongoing tourism monitors that they undertake and how their experience might be applicable in the UK. I also gave a lecture on evaluating the visitor experience at historic visitor attraction as this is something we have a lot of experience of in the UK. This also secured a couple of interesting guided tours of attractions while I was in Canberra! I had an afternoon with Tourism Research Australia, who are the government provider of tourism research. Their techniques, particularly in relation to occupancy surveys, were especially interesting. Parliament House, Canberra

8 Melbourne In Melbourne most of my time was spent at Victoria University (VU) talking about the partnering of industry and education and ways that they have made it work successfully in relation to tourism research. VU also has a small commercial tourism research function (Centre for Hospitality and Tourism Research) which undertakes very similar work to my normal work in the UK. Spending time with this group gave me some excellent ideas for future development and efficiency. The University is sited on many campuses across the city, I was staying directly opposite one of the campuses but owing to a slight miscommunication this was not the correct campus! I therefore quickly learnt how to use (and enjoy) Melbourne s excellent train and tram network. The campus I was visiting is situated in a quiet suburb in a normal residential street (see below right). Adelaide Time with the University of South Australia was spent looking at their ongoing research programme especially in relation to techniques, funding and industry interaction. I also visited a variety of the University s industry partners.

9 New Zealand In New Zealand I spent my time at Auckland University of Technology (AUT), and the New Zealand Tourism Research Institute (see photo below). Auckland s multicultural vibe carries over to the university who have strong links with the Maori community. This was one of the most rewarding elements of my visit, though discussions about the research undertaken and the complexities of research in New Zealand were also incredibly interesting.

10 Brisbane The University of Queensland (UQ) has two key campuses for their tourism department. Below left is the Ipswich Campus which was a former mental health facility and now accommodates 4,000 students. Below right is the main St. Lucia campus, this looks very much like a 1930s take on a Cambridge college and offers excellent facilities. Discussions at UQ centred on their ongoing research programme and the potential for future collaboration. I also spent time at Tourism Queensland Research Department, understanding how they utilise centrally available data sources and augment it with local data. Gold Coast Griffith University is sited within the tourism rich area of the Gold Coast near Surfer s Paradise (see photo below). I spent time with the academics, looking at their research techniques and especially the depth they bring to research through the use of qualitative techniques.

11 Outcomes Even though there was much advice to the contrary, I did what I assume many people must do, and tried to fit too much in. My trip would have benefited from having more time free within the schedule so that when I was invited to stay on with someone I was able to accept. The occasions when I was able to were some of the most rewarding of my trip and allowed me to experience life in Australia as it is lived by the locals. On balance the people and the places I saw were the key benefits of the trip to me. But many of the discussions I had were directly applicable to the work I undertake back in the UK and have been put into almost daily use.

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