It is noticed that the number of various festivals and events has rapidly grown worldwide within the last several decades. This trend evokes scholars’ interest and encourages them to research its plausible causes. Scrutinizing the trigger, one can presume that the trend of enhanced celebrations is connected with the phenomenon of economic and social globalization, which serves to attract capital through tourism and investments. The validity of this assumption is supported with the fact that many people choose travelling purposefully with the goal to enter a particular event. This peculiarity resonates with the development of a tourism subsector, known as event tourism. Researchers consider event tourism to be “at the nexus of tourism”. It means that, in the frames of tourism sector, event tourism refers to “the marketing of events to tourists, and the development and marketing of events for tourism and economic development purposes”. Simply put, today, event tourism is a highly profitable subsector of tourism that functions to advertise concrete geographic spot and attract capital. To increase financial feasibility of event tourism, scholars study the variables that may affect the development of the appropriate businesses. This study will analyze a world known Shakespeare Festival linking the obtained data to theoretical insights regarding the role of event tourism for tourism industry.
Importance of Events and Festivals for Tourism
Observing theoretic background of event tourism, it is appropriate to discuss the main variables that influence the events’ success and profitability. In this regard, time is one of the major variables of event tourism. It is known that some events are short (last for a day or two), whereas others may last for a month. The duration of festivals/events is critically important while estimating the expenditure, anticipating risks and profits, and identifying targeted segment.
Another important variable of festivals/events is the level of participants’ involvement. The CRC for Sustainable Tourism conducted a study that suggests “that participant-based events (eg National Runners Week) may yield greater expenditure per person than spectator based events (eg Thredbo Jazz Festival)”. As it is seen, the level of participants’ involvement is an important factor that should be considered at all stages of the development of event tourism.
What is more, festivals/events are categorized by their magnitude into local, major, hallmark, and mega-event. The proper categorization is important for the successful development/branding of festivals and events. Besides, it goes without saying that this variable is positively related to the event’s duration and the level of participants’ involvement. In addition, it stipulates the ratio of financial expenditure. Moreover, categorization is connected with the general impact that a show or event makes on its attendants and third parties. To be more precise, the success of an event is directly linked to its reputation. It is necessary to clarify that the discussed categorization refers to the scope of a particular event. The next section is aimed at highlighting thematic categorization of festivals and events.
According to the kind of activity, one can distinguish such types as "festival, sports events, show, A&P show, award and event". Without doubt, this classification is connected with the above-discussed variables of duration, participants’ level of involvement, scope, and expenditure. All these aspects should be considered while planning festivals/events. Besides, the type of activity is positively related to the theme of event. For example, an event may be dedicated to sport, fashion, or religion. The type of activity and theme are the variables that should be considered while identifying the market segment and developing positioning strategy. The proper aligning of all aspects is supposed to result in the increased profitability of promoted events.
Besides, financial sustainability of event tourism depends on the timely identified and eliminated negative effects the industry can produce. In this regard, one should clarify that the costs of festivals/events are fewer than the benefits; therefore, this segment continues to grow. Nevertheless, there are certain concerns that deserve attention of governments, businesses, and community.
The significance of festival/events for tourism can be viewed from the perspective of “the equity of benefits”. Specifically, developing event tourism, one should consider the conjunctive implications for the involved parties (the equity of benefits and costs). Some of the main concerns are related to the impact of festivals/events on physical infrastructure and environment. Despite attracting capital, events are known to be the source of pollution. What makes the things even worse is that event tourism may negatively affect urban infrastructure by lessening the ratio of public goods.
Moreover, in terms of geopolitics, event tourism supports the unequal dispersion of capital, which is good for the localities that benefit from global festivals and events, but may be a negative tendency from a global perspective. Event tourism leads to the inequity of benefits for such involved parties as state, businesses, and communities. Considering their interdependence, it is necessary to study and develop the approaches that can help minimize the occurrence of negative implications. Otherwise, the adverse impacts may inhibit the evolvement of a profitable industry. To align the above-revealed theoretical data with the practical side of event tourism, the next section will discuss Shakespeare Festival.
Mini Case Study of Shakespeare Festival
Shakespeare Festival is a world famous event that is aimed at promoting theatre and plays as an important part of the arts. Identifying the theme of this event, one should clarify that it is a literature and theatre festival. In terms of its scope, Shakespeare Festival is a hallmark event. It is not a mega-event, but it is quite popular and recognizable by particular characteristics: the love for literature and theatre. As a hallmark event, it is run in different geographic spots, particularly Shakespeare Festivals are arranged in the USA, the UK and Australia. This case study refers to Shakespeare Festival that takes place in Utah; however, it is also arranged in other US cities, for instance, Detroit, Oregon, and others.
Utah Shakespeare Festival started in 1961 and its first season ran in 1962. Rapidly growing, the festival increased its budget from “under $1,000 in 1961 to over $7 million today”. The today’s considerable profits are obtained due to a large number of visitors, “the audience is nearly 130,000”. It is necessary to clarify that this event presumes a passive level of participants’ involvement; simply put, the visitors are spectators who watch open-air performances. Observing further the main stakeholders, it is necessary to consider the associates, including the students of acting, spectators, sponsors, and local communities. In terms of sponsorship and partnership, it is said that The George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation sponsors the 2015 season. Besides, there is “the SUU Fellowship Program at the Utah Shakespeare Festival” that encourages the students taking acting courses to participate in performances while continuing to study. In this way, the students’ program increases the availability of the art of performance for its stakeholders.
In addition, the accessibility of this event is enhanced by festivals’ excessive network activity. Ticketing is conducted online on the official website //www.bard.org/, where visitors can choose preferred dates and locality of the festival. Furthermore, one should accentuate the active cyber presence of Shakespeare Festival since it is advertised through Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest. Thus, organizers comprehend the importance of the technological factor for the successful development of this event.
Estimating the economic benefits, one should emphasize that profitability is stipulated by interdependence of event tourism and retailing, transportation, food &beverage, hotel and other industries which are the subcategories of the service industry. This insight is significant since it helps to understand the mechanisms for interaction between various industries that make event tourism profitable.
In this regard, the equity of benefits is characterized with ambivalence. On the one hand, Shakespeare Festival is profitable for its stakeholders (associates, communities, sponsors). In addition, it is also advantageous for visitors because this event functions to educate people. On the other hand, it is obvious that a large concentration of people causes distress to environment contributing to nature pollution and endangerment of flora and fauna. The above-revealed particularities are strengthened by the fact that, in terms of duration, the festival runs from February till November, which is probably connected with the climatic factor (warm weather is necessary for open air events). It means that both the benefits and costs of Shakespeare Festival are intensified by the long-lasting duration of the programs.
The observed theoretic data as well as practical maintenance of Shakespeare Festival suggest that event tourism is greatly profitable because it is the means of attracting capital to a particular place from other geographic locations. The success of event tourism is connected with the tendencies of popular culture and cultural globalization, which facilitates identifying and targeting the proper marketing segments. Besides, cyber presence facilitates the process of branding and contributes to the increase of profits by enabling productive advertising and communication with clients. In addition, success of event tourism depends on the appropriately detected and considered variables such as event’s theme, type of activity, volume, duration, and level of participants’ involvement. Finally, it is necessary to state that event tourism is significant for tourism industry because it creates the net of cooperation between various subcategories of service industry.