chapter  7
10 Pages

Transport tourism

Travelling through heritage and contemporary recreation
WithD. Hall

The transport enthusiast leisure sub-culture tended to be perceived as representing a male-dominated specialist, esoteric, often far from fashionable, interest. But as tourism development in the 1970s and 1980s drew increasingly on heritage and nostalgia, so existing transport attractions responded, albeit somewhat slowly, with innovations to appeal to broader market segments, while new transport and heritage attractions introduced products to encourage further segmentation. Repositioned transport attractions such as ‘heritage’ steam railways, incorporated into local and regional networks and place-promotion collaboration, developed family-oriented marketing (Table 7.3). Such ‘preservationism’ may be seen as part of a collective nostalgia for the (usually masculinized) skills, symbols and certainties of our recent industrial past (Urry, 1995: 124). Yet Halsall (2001) argues that the social and cultural identity which has become attached to heritage railways is stronger than mere nostalgia. Thus in the UK, for example, some 140 restored railways (Butcher, 2002) now promote themselves with a strong emphasis on heritage, place and interactive experience involving both entertainment and education. With reference to the last entry in Table 7.3, the attraction of transport

(infrastructure) and its associated locations (re-)generated by popular culture can enforce the concept of a fictional heritage place (Couldry, 1998). For heritage railways, providing a ‘front stage’ set for filming has the multiple value of generating income from the film company for use of the location, providing out of season employment for rolling stock, and generating more custom through recognition in and association with particular films. Perhaps the UK model for this was the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, situated in ‘Bronte¨ Country’ (West Yorkshire), which featured heavily in the sentimental 1970 film The Railway Children. The Kent and East Sussex Railway claims to have appeared in more than 30 film and television productions (Tenterden Railway Company, 2003). There are perhaps two critical management implications arising from these

trends. First, attractions need to be continually improving the quality and range of visitor experience and evolving their promotion and marketing in order to be suitably positioned to appeal to continually fragmenting and fusing market segments. Second, networking to reinforce collaboration based on propinquity and

function is now essential. Transport attractions need to complement, and be promoted alongside other attractions in their region as part of ‘place promotion’ (Kotler et al., 1993), and as a means of becoming embedded within perceived attraction clusters and circuits in order to better attract family-based markets. Further, transport attractions also need to maintain close collaborative links both nationally and internationally with other transport attractions in order to reach the now globalized ‘niche’ transport enthusiast market. A major challenge for policy makers and resource managers is to render both attractions and their markets sustainable.