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Research Showcase, 23 rd April 2012 Marketing a national landscape: perception of Exmoor National Park and impact on the local tourism economy Tim Wilkinson.

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Presentation on theme: "Research Showcase, 23 rd April 2012 Marketing a national landscape: perception of Exmoor National Park and impact on the local tourism economy Tim Wilkinson."— Presentation transcript:

1 Research Showcase, 23 rd April 2012 Marketing a national landscape: perception of Exmoor National Park and impact on the local tourism economy Tim Wilkinson

2 Presentation structure National Parks introduction Historical perspective Exmoor tourism question Previous research Work to date First research phase Forthcoming research phases Outcomes

3 National Parks Protected areas of: Natural beauty Countryside and wildlife Cultural heritage Provide opportunities for recreation £4.8 billion* visitor spend per year Approx. 166 million* visitor days per year National Park Authorities funded c.£73 million* per year * In 2009,

4 Historical perspective on National Parks First designation 1951 after National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 Resulting from National Parks Movement, Romantic Movement and Industrialisation Statutory purposes of National Park Authorities: Conserve and enhance natural beauty, wildlife, cultural heritage Promote opportunities for understanding and enjoyment Environment Act 1995 gives National Park Authorities the duty to seek to foster the economic and social well-being of local communities when carrying out statutory purposes

5 Survey results: awareness of National Parks Relatively high awareness of Exmoor (National Opinion Poll, 2007) © ENPA Exmoor tourism question N = 1000

6 Relatively low visitor levels to Exmoor © ENPA (National Opinion Poll, 2007)N = 1000 Survey results: National Parks visited/ visitor levels

7 Issue for Exmoor: awareness vs. visitor levels National Park Awareness (%) Awareness ranking Visitor levels (%) Visitor level ranking Exmoor135 th 437 th New Forest 135 th 552 nd North York Moors 69 th 437 th 30% of local residents on Exmoor rely on tourism as their primary source of income (ENPA 2010)

8 Perceptions of Exmoor National Park: current knowledge What sorts of perceptions of Exmoor are there? How do perceptions of Exmoor circulate? Sources of information obtained by first time visitors (ENPA 2010) Top ten reasons/attractors for visiting Exmoor (ENPA 2010) N = 320

9 Connections between... Perceptions Textual representations (e.g. promotional material, mass media, film, television, social media) Modes of engagement with Exmoor Academic literature suggests textual representations shape tourist perception, practice and expectations (Alneng 2002; Davis 2005; Jenkins 2003; McGregor 2000)

10 The project so far... Literature review: – National Parks Movement and countryside history – History of Exmoor – Approaches to tourism in Human Geography Analysed representations of Exmoor and draw out dominant narratives – Online promotional materials – Brochures and magazines – Mass media: news, radio, television Linked dominant narratives to broader narratives of nature and countryside – e.g. unspoilt Exmoor – anti-Industrial narrative of countryside – e.g. hidden Exmoor – romantic narrative of nature

11 ... a hidden place... unspoilt... wilderness... timeless... relaxing breathing space...escape...explore...exhilarating Contemplation - escape Timeless villages Wilderness Discover/ explore Relaxing Exhilarating Analysis of representations drawing out dominant narratives of Exmoor

12 Forthcoming phases Exploring how different activity groups perceive and experience the National Park – conservation – arts and crafts – outdoor activities – heritage – underrepresented groups Using discussion groups and participant observation

13 Methodology Discussion groups (4-8 participants with moderator): – drawing out groups narratives of engagement with Exmoor – how do group narratives and perceptions of Exmoor intersect with narratives in promotional materials and mass media? – use of images as stimulus for discussion about Exmoor, countryside and landscape Participant observation (researcher participation and observation in tourist activities): – to access groups that only exist during an activity e.g. walkers at a walking festival – how do tourist narratives shape engagement with the National Park?

14 Outcomes A better understanding of how visitors and potential visitors perceive and narrate Exmoor National Park Produce guidance for Exmoor tourism industry about using images and narratives in marketing to broaden visitor audience Qualitative understanding of visitor experience will inform Exmoor National Park Authority's marketing strategy and packaging of Exmoor © ETP 2011© Adam Burton

15 Thank you – any questions? Research presented here was conducted during an ESRC Studentship under its Capacity Building Clusters Award (RES ) in partnership with Exmoor National Park Authority. For more information about this project and the work of the Centre for Sport, Leisure and Tourism research, see Tim Wilkinson,

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