by Danielle Allen*
For a number of years I worked with Professor Howard L Hughes on cultural tourism projects that focused on live entertainment in UK seaside resorts and later on culture as a tourist resource in CEE countries. This led to my involvement in a project to improve tourism sector standards in Russia.
So, for the past 3 years, myself and fellow academics in my department have been a partner in NETOUR, (Network for Excellence in Tourism through Organizations and Universities in Russia) – a European Union, Tempus funded project with a budget of over one million Euros. NETOUR’s main objective has been to encourage a sustainable change in research and education in tourism management within Russian Universities. Ending in October 2015, the project aimed to enhance effective relations between universities, the tourism sector, and governments, and successfully supported the development of new tourism programmes in Russian Universities.
Dr Steven Rhoden and I collaborated with 14 other European and Russian universities to provide best practice and knowledge transfer for curricula in three strategically important sectors in Russia: business tourism, cultural tourism, and nature-based tourism. MMU played a leading role within the NETOUR project because of the cultural tourism expertise of researchers at Hollings Faculty.
We worked with partners from across Europe and the Russian Federation to produce research with real world impact that benefits the tourism curricula at Russian universities, but that also aimed to up-skill the workforce in the tourism industry. Our team at MMU co-authored a situational analysis report: ‘Cultural Tourism in Russia’ and hosted a Case Study Writing workshop at Hollings Faculty attended by Russian and European partners.
Our final project output was a handbook for practitioners, students and researchers and in September 2015, ‘Tourism in Russia, a Management Handbook was published by Emerald Publishing. MMUs contribution was a chapter which I co-wrote entitled ‘Cultural Tourism in Russia’.
This work presents an insight into the effective management of the cultural tourism product, focussing on aspects of interpretation and service quality. We explored the demand for cultural tourism through available statistics, and also what motivates tourists to engage in cultural experiences in Russia. This is an underdeveloped academic subject area in the English language which will provide an insight into tourism in Russia.
Cultural tourism is important in Russia with visits to cultural tourism attractions, such as the world-renowned Hermitage Museum, making up a large proportion of visits to all attractions. It is vital that Russia moves towards a more customer focussed approach to cultural tourism attractions in order to enhance the competitiveness of Russia as a viable place for international tourist to visit.
The publications resulting from NETOUR will hopefully benefit current and future Russian professionals to undertake the necessary changes that will contribute to making Russian tourism a key driver for social and economic development.
For more information on this project, and to read the reports, follow the link www.netour.eu
*Danielle Allen is a Senior Research Assistant at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK. She has published in peer-reviewed academic journals, with Professor Howard L Hughes, in the field of cultural tourism and has engaged in commissioned research for UK and international clients. As an Associate Lecturer Danielle has taught on Tourism Management undergraduate programmes. Danielle’s areas of research interest include Live Entertainment in Seaside Resorts, Cultural Tourism in Central and Eastern Europe and Heritage Tourism.