The Importance of Community Organisations for Tourism in a Post-pandemic World
Lindsay Robbins, joint winner of our 2021 TMI Simon Curtis Postgraduate Prize, shares her insightful blog around the importance of community organisations for tourism in a post-pandemic world.
Community is defined as a set of relationships that involves social interaction and commonality of place, purpose or interest, but if I’ve learned anything since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s that community is so much more than that. Having moved from Canada to Scotland between the first and second lockdowns to study an MSc in International Tourism and Events Management at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU), I wasn’t able to experience many of the traditional tourist attractions Scotland has to offer, at least not right away. Instead, I got to know my neighbourhood, my local parks, sites and people; in essence, I got to know my community first.
In a 1981 study, researchers Duffield and Long argued that tourism needed to align with local values and stem from local initiatives in order to be successful, but in a post-pandemic world, that has never been more true. The absence of international travel has caused many of us, myself included, to re-evaluate the importance of community and the impact of tourism. When the opportunity arose to work with Clyde Docks Preservation Initiative, a social enterprise, to re-imagine the River Clyde as a it’s own tourism destination, I wanted to let the Clydeside communities lead the charge. The aim of my research was to work collaboratively with organisations along the Clyde to develop an interactive digital platform where they could share their unique stories and give potential visitors a window into what makes these riverside communities so special.
Although we succeeded in building our digital platform, the most important outcome of our work was the recognition amongst the participating organisations that they all had more in common than just the coastline and that through collaboration, over competition, they could use tourism as a vehicle for revitalizing their individual communities. Now, as I split my time between research into the impact of community events and my role as the Community Events Development Officer in North Ayrshire, I am consistently reminded that if we let communities lead, tourism will follow.
Winning TMI’s Simon Curtis Postgraduate Prize felt like an acknowledgement, not just of my own research, but of the contributions that community organisations all over Scotland and UK make to tourism. As the tourism industry continues to look at ways to build back better, it’s important that organisations of all shapes and sizes are empowered to take the lead on creating new visions and versions of tourism that benefit visitors and communities alike. During this project, I saw firsthand how important a network can be in helping foster a sense of community beyond geographic borders, and I’m so appreciative that TMI continues to champion this work.
Lindsay graduated from Glasgow Caledonian University with an MSc in International Tourism & Events Management in 2021.