The impact of Garden Festival Wales on the local tourism industry
Williams, Fiona Jayne
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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The concept of the garden festival was introduced to Britain by the Government as part of the regeneration process for areas with economic, environmental and social problems. The circumstances under which each of the garden festivals has operated have varied. Consequently, all of the Festival Companies have aimed to meet the basic parameters as stated by the Department of the Environment, but the priorities accorded to each festival have differed in response to local considerations. This thesis describes attempts to determine the realisation of some of the objectives of Garden Festival Wales held at Ebbw vale in 1992. The Festival Company, Garden Festival Wales Limited, placed priority on improving the image of the area, which in turn would act as a primer for more rapid economic regeneration. Therefore, it is postulated in this study that Garden Festival Wales and the increased visitor numbers attributable to the event would have a beneficial affect on the existing local tourism industry. The criteria for assessment are the ‘perceived’ and ‘actual’ benefits attributable to Garden Festival Wales. A multiple research approach is adopted which involves three data collection methods and results in three data sets. Sixteen visitor attractions selected for sampling purposes are all located within a 25km radius of the Garden Festival Wales site, and include heritage attractions, museums and art galleries, countryside attractions and industrial/craft attractions. Impacts are judged using a method of trangulation which combines the perceptions of the managers of the local visitor attractions with an investigation of the attitudes and opinions of visitors to those attractions. An evaluation of this primary data and the relevant secondary data is undertaken to achieve the research objectives. Evidence is presented to demonstrate the extent to which the 'perceived' and 'actual' benefits to the local visitor attractions were attributable to Garden Festival Wales. Most of the benefits were the result of the new visitors to the area generated by the event. The occurrence of image-related benefits, expected as a consequence of the Festival, is not supported by the evidence in the study. It is concluded that, while Garden Festival Wales had a beneficial impact on the local tourism industry, this impact was modest in terms of what was expected. Possible reasons for this are explored ; they include market overlap, a distinct Festival image and short-termism. The issues addressed in this study, and its findings, are relevant to the concept of festivals and special events in a broader definition. Therefore, recommendations are presented regarding the wider application of festivals and special events as part of tourism product development and economic regeneration.
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