Count Dracula Gives Kiss Of Life To Tourism
Date posted: 16 May 2013
Research from the University of Derby Buxton is to lift the lid on a dark world of horror - and see how it can boost the UK's tourism industry.
Goths - the sub-culture which grew out of Punk Rock in the 1980s and not the ancient tribes who brought down the Roman Empire - are being investigated by the University's Dr Pascal Mandelartz, an expert in what has been dubbed 'Dark Tourism'.
Dr Mandelartz believes that the Goths, who are famous for their dark clothing, black make-up and fascination with horror and Vampire culture such as the Twilight film series, are an undiscovered sector of the market, a worldwide phenomenon ranging from light-hearted tours of the London Dungeon to more macabre visits to sites where famous people such as Elvis Presley and James Dean died.
Despite their fierce look, Goths are well-known for being gentle and law-abiding, as anyone who has been to North Yorkshire during the bi-annual Whitby Goth Weekends will know.
But as yet no study has been carried out into their impact as an undiscovered segment of the Dark Tourism market, said Dr Mandelartz.
"We want to ask: is dark tourism part of the Goth identity?" Dr Mandelartz, from Germany, told a conference in which students examined how research techniques can be used to improve the tourism industry. "Where are the boundaries between the mainstream and the sub-culture?"
Goths were originally English followers of punk Band Siouxsie and the Banshees, but have since spread across the globe. Whitby is their spiritual home because it's the port where that famous fictional 'tourist' - Count Dracula - first made landfall in Bram Stoker's novel. Only last month their official status as a sub-culture was confirmed when Greater Manchester Police controversially decided to record attacks on Goths and other groups such as Emos and Punks as hate crimes.
Dr Mandelartz was one many speakers at the Research Conference, including Sally Hogg, Head of Visitor Services and Marketing at Chatsworth, who demonstrated how professional research techniques had helped the stately home create a tourist experience which attracted 720,000 visitors a year.
Dr Sarah Rawlinson, Assistant Director of the University of Derby Buxton, said: "Hearing from a top tourism practitioner about how research can boost business is exactly the kind of real-life expertise which we at the University aim for.
"Our students study with real-life experts because our courses are aimed at giving them real life chances."