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Tourist attractions : more theories, with examples in practice

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1 Tourist attractions : more theories, with examples in practice
Leiper (2004) Tourism Management, Chapter 13 “Tourist Attractions… ”, summarises and interprets work by several researchers : Gunn, MacCannell, Lew, Pearce, Stear, Leiper and others.

2 Topics Revision: previous presentation on TAs Tourists are never literally “attracted” How do tourist attractions really function? Nine functions of markers Gunn’s design for structure at nuclei Attraction hierarchy

3 An earlier presentation on the topic noted that …
… tourist attractions are highly diverse … virtually anything can be the focus of a tourist attraction … some involve mass tourism, others involve very few tourists

4 An earlier presentation on the topic noted one of MacCannell’s theories on attractions …
… Tourist attractions tend to evolve, progressing through five stages: Naming Elevation Framing Enshrinement Duplication

5 What are tourist attractions, & how do they function?
They do not function in a literal way: They do not literally “attract”. There are no “pull factors” in tourism.


7 Magnets literally attract
A physical force from inside a magnet, reaches out into its magnetic field, and shapes the activity of certain objects (eg iron filings) in that field. Magnets attract, they pull objects towards them.


9 The Earth literally attracts unconstrained objects
This is caused by gravitational force Gravity reaches out from very large objects (e.g. Earth) to shape the movements of much smaller objects (which then fall to Earth)


11 How do tourist attractions attract tourists?
It does not happen literally. There is nothing in what we call ‘attractions’ that reaches out to attract tourists in the way that magnets literally attract iron filings, or that the Earth literally attracts falling objects.

12 Nothing in this painting pulls or attracts people to it
Nothing in this painting pulls or attracts people to it. It does not function in the same way as a magnet or as Earth’s gravity. So, what causes tourists to seemingly be attracted or pulled by the Mona Lisa? …or by any other so-called “attraction”?

13 Dean MacCannell’s theories include a clue for how tourist “attractions” and other forms of “attraction” involving humans really work. He defined sightseeing attractions as a set comprising a sight, a tourist and a marker – the latter being information about the sight received by a tourist. Later researchers, Stear and Leiper, extended MacCannell’s theory, explaining in more detail how “attraction systems” really work.

14 MacCannell defined sightseeing attractions as a type of sign, comprising :
At least one tourist At least one marker (information, about a sight, received by tourists and meaning something [?] to them) A sight

15 A sign is something that conveys meaning
Semiotics (the science of signs) says that a sign is information + an object referred to + a person receiving the information and deriving meaning from it. A sign is not a signpost, nor the information on it.

16 We can now ask … How do people get information about the things that seem to be “tourist attractions”? What effect might the information have on persons who become tourists and visit those things?


18 The crucial function of generating markers
Without generating markers, information pre-trip, nobody would become motivated to be a tourist. Pre-trip information about “attractions” can react with needs, lead to motivation and to a decision to depart on a trip.

19 Three locations of markers in a tourist attraction system
Generating markers (pre-trip, before departure to the “attraction”) Transit markers (on the way to a known “attraction”) Contiguous markers (located at the site, sight, object, event etc.)


21 Markers are often received by tourists in TGRs, in TRs and in TDRs
Most tourists receive a huge quantity of markers, about a huge array of attractions This can become information overload Each tourist decides which of many “attractions” they will visit.

22 Functions of markers in tourist attractions
1. Trigger motivation to travel 2. Help decide where to go 3. Plan itineraries 4. Decide each day’s activities 5. Use to locate the nucleus 6. Tell tourists they have arrived 7. Enable image formation 8. Assist memory of previous experiences 9. Give meaning to tourism ….. Others ?

23 How do tourist attractions “attract” tourists? Marker function # 1
There are no so-called “pull factors” in tourism Tourists are pushed toward places that seem capable of satisfying their touristic needs They are pushed by their own motivation, via relevant information reacting on tourists’ needs. Tourists might receive relevant information in TGRs, in TRs and/ or while visiting TDRs

24 Ancient ruins, remnants of past civilisations
Ancient ruins, remnants of past civilisations. Learning about this can lead to motivation to visit. e. g. Ta Prohm, in Cambodia

25 Images of animals in wild= generating markers for many tourists
Images of animals in wild= generating markers for many tourists. Deciding where to go.

26 Markers used to plan itineraries
Markers used to plan itineraries. “Let’s include Niagara Falls in our itinerary.

27 Deciding a day’s activities. In Sydney
Deciding a day’s activities. In Sydney .. “Let’s go to the Art Gallery to see the famous painting by Tom Roberts, Bailed Up”

28 Signposts on road at Kanchanaburi, Thailand, point to the Felix Resort Hotel

29 Contiguous Marker – visitors now know they have arrived at Disneyland

30 Marker as image formation: the plaque below this copy of “David” in Florence gives information about the famous statue.

31 Photo of tourist on holiday becomes a marker, as a souvenir

32 Photo of tourists on The Matterhorn. Gives meaning to their trip.

33 Gunn’s theory of three elements in every successful attraction
An effective tourist attraction requires three effective components. If one is defective, the whole is not successful: Nucleus Inviolate Belt Services Zone

34 Gunn’s Model of the Ideal Physical Structure of a Tourist Attraction
Services zone Inviolate belt Nucleus

35 Inviolate Belt The immediate surrounds of the nucleus
It should provide an empty space, with no disturbance, an anticipatory experience

36 Functions of an inviolate belt
Tourists experiences can be improved by undisturbed anticipation as they approach the nucleus via an inviolate belt A fragile nucleus can be protected from damage by an inviolate belt

37 St Peter’s Square, Rome, in effect, is an inviolate belt for the cathedral

38 Borobodur, huge Buddhist temple in Java, Indonesia

39 Buddhist stupas on the upper levels of Borobodur

40 Before 1980, this temple was crowded in by shops, car parks
Before 1980, this temple was crowded in by shops, car parks. A new plan for the site created an inviolate zone.

41 A nucleus – reaching a mountain top
A nucleus – reaching a mountain top. Climbing to the top, away from unnatural intrusions, is the inviolate belt

42 Would this be an effective attraction if hotels, shops and car parks lined the lake?

43 Events also have inviolate belts
Events also have inviolate belts. Would tourists enjoy this food so much if they had just filled up on Big Macs?

44 Services zone Popular sites for tourists need public services and facilities: toilets, car parks, shops. These are best located outside an inviolate belt.

45 Attraction Hierarchy Normally for each tourist, attractions are arranged in their mind in a hierarchy: Primary – “must visit” on this trip Secondary – will visit, but not vital in trip decision Tertiary – unknown pre-visit, discovered in effect

46 Attraction Hierarchy Should Tourism Organisations promote every attraction in their country / region? Or should they leave some for tourists to discover, as tertiary attractions?

47 Stear’s model of highly industrialised whole tourism systems
It depicts “tourist place” (i.e. nucleus of an attraction) as the focal point of tourists’ itineraries The purpose of tourism industries is to promote, assist and manage tourists’ trips to such places


49 Concluding Remarks Tourist attraction can be understood as sub-subsystems in every whole tourism system A range of theories helps us understand how they function, and how to best manage and market them.

50 The End Never the end in academic research or professional practice
New theories will be devised, to further explain aspects of the subject ???

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