Media Tourism and the National Trust for Scotland. Towards a model for sustainable tourism development

Lead Research Organisation: University of Aberdeen
Department Name: Sch of Social Science


Media tourism (that is, tourism associated with literature, film, TV series, video games etc.) is estimated to attract one in five visitors to Scotland. Yet it is a relatively under-researched field. The mediatisation of tourism is a relatively recent and dynamically expanding field, which poses both academic and practical challenges. Many of the tourist sites visited are owned by heritage organisations such as the National Trust for Scotland, for whom visitors are an important source of revenue. However, media related tourism numbers can be unpredictable and where large numbers arise, might overwhelm sites. One very popular site owned by the NTS is the Glenfinnan Viaduct, attracting up to 500 000 visitors a year due to featuring in the Harry Potter films. The NTS is in the process of expanding capacity and building a new visitor centre at this site in response to visitor number pressures. Such development is illustrative of the challenge involved in meeting visitor demands whilst simultaneously respecting the heritage conservation objectives of organisations such as the NTS and their broader remit to allow access to the public and to develop cultural value.
The collaborative studentship therefore brings together different research fields, academic departments and one of Scotland's foremost heritage organisations to contribute to the emerging field of media tourism. It opens new ways of rethinking conventional concepts in tourist studies, for example by addressing the idea of "imaginative heritage" and also broaden our understanding upon how tourism interacts with fan communities, place-making, and storytelling. In practice, this collaborative studentship will involve working with the NTS to help create a more sustainable model of tourist development that can address the requirements of visitor experience, education, and heritage conservation.
The successful candidate will be able to build upon the work already carried out as part of the EU-funded SPOT cultural heritage project by joining a dynamic multi-disciplinary, international team (the project has partners in 15 countries). Moreover, by being based both at the NTS and at the University, with co-supervision arrangements, and being fully integrated into a new site-specific venture, the PhD candidate will accumulate rich practical experience in heritage and tourism management whilst capable of studying these fields and phenomena with academic depth and rigour, promising a future employment prospects.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000681/1 30/09/2017 29/09/2027
2751192 Studentship ES/P000681/1 30/09/2022 30/03/2026 Duygu Hardman