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Alan Machin's Blog - July 2009

Image: Blog header - July 2009

The next posting will be on 16 August.

Image: Halifax's different image

Reinforcing And Revising Stereotypes By Travel


I am continuing to re-read Garry Hogg’s ‘Explorers’ series of children’s books published originally around 1938-40. Recent postings mentioned his ‘Explorers Afloat’, a series of adventures set on board a canal narrow boat in the late 1930s. Garry Hogg’s books were based on real journeys and so his descriptions are very accurate, at least in terms of what places were like in the thirties. In ‘Explorers Awheel’ he describes walks in the Doone Country of Exmoor. The valleys, streams, waterfalls and often the buildings (Cloud Farm in this case) are recognisable in the present day landscape.

‘Explorers On The Wall’ was the second book. In it, the four children and their uncle travel from home in Hampshire to Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland. As someone now living in Halifax who was involved in community efforts to promote the modern, cleaner town full of very special architectural interest and set in attractive hill country, the following description of the drive north in an open car caught my eye:

“Country got better when we neared Ashbourne, and after that the first hills began ..... beyond Buxton we got quite close to the famous Peak and the Kinder Scout (over 2,000 feet but no road there) ..... Then came towns like Huddersfield and Halifax. I won’t spoil this log by saying what we thought about them! At Skipton (240 miles from home) things began to be more interesting again, thank goodness!” (Hogg, 1939:47).

Garry Hogg will have been recording what he actually saw when he travelled through, though the condemnatory and supercilious judgement, delivered with no thought as to the effect it was contributing towards the popular opinion which in the minds of many people at that time was to avoid such industrial places. And of course Hogg’s fictitious characters were southerners! The frequent laissez-faire attitude towards manufacturing towns by many home counties’ residents was one of condescension in the same way that they viewed the natives in the colonies – the natural order of things, decreed by Mother Nature if not by God. It was not something which they had to be concerned about beyond some transient display of pity.

From the 1960s onwards the same regional manufacturing towns began to go through a transformation. Clean Air Acts banished smoke; stone cleaning (where applicable) turned blackened architecture back to honey-golden treasures. Tourist promotion not only placed images of places like Huddersfield, Halifax and Bradford in the media, they tempted people to see for themselves what these places were really like now. It is the advantage of tourism over the media and even over classroom education that people can see for themselves what places are like and what the quality of life in them is now. The answer is - gloriously attractive and phenomenally friendly.
And if you don’t believe me, come north and see for yourselves.

Hogg, G (1939) Explorers On The Wall, London, Thomas Nelson and Sons

Image: Braunston Marina

Narrow Boats Working


In the early years of the Industrial Revolution the towns around Birmingham were connected to London for heavy transport by the Oxford Canal. It was a long and winding route which took barges to Oxford from where they moved down the Thames. By the 1790s the Oxford Canal, though only just opened, was clearly a slow route and suffered engineering and water supply problems. A new canal was authorised by Parliament and opened by 1805. This, the Grand Junction Canal, ran from Braunston on the Oxford Canal, near Daventry, to Brentford, west of London and on the Thames. Braunston became a crucial point on the canal network and continued to thrive as further routes extended the system. After World War II canal transport was fast losing out to the railways and motorways were poised to take more goods away from both. In October 1970 the last commercial traffic on the Grand Junction ceased.

What happened to the British canal system in general after each line was closed to commercial transport is well known. Thanks to the campaigning of hundreds of individuals much of the network has been kept open or restored to use for pleasure craft with a mixture of traditionally-styled narrow boats or small cabin cruisers. Enthusiasts who own boats or others or hire them for days at a time travel up and down the system exploring an attractive inheritance from the early industrial period and the surrounding countryside.

Braunston Marina is a focal point for them. Some 250 boats are based here and others pass through to be repaired or pause on the main canal arm (since 1929 known as the Grand Union) in order to view the wharves and basin. There are two dry docks in use for maintenance and repairing boats. Narrow boats are on sale here - 20,000 to 75,000 might be the usual price range. A shop sells necessary items, books and souvenirs. New houses and apartments have been built with splendid outlooks onto the marina. Canal holidays are popular with their mixture of exploration, comfort – mixed with hard work operating locks, and the excitement of tunnels – and the delight of just ‘messing about in boats’. I referred in an earlier posting this month to what I called ‘vehicle-based tourism’. Along with cycling with tents, motor homes and caravans, narrow-boating and cabin cruising are good examples.

Image: Caravan - parking and servicing

Setting Up


We had done the Caravan Club towing course, read their magazines and (some) of the instruction booklets that came with the accessories. Yet standing with a pipe, length of cable or piece of equipment we could still feel our minds go a total blank.

Arriving on site, a large, attractive field surrounded by trees and with only three or four other caravans in view we had to puzzle where to place the ‘van and which way to face it. After some minutes pondering a neighbouring caravanner came over. Tony, and his wife Doreen, would be our lifelines over the couple of days. Tony explained that rather than try to deal with the sloping site by placing the ‘van along a contour we should turn it through ninety degrees to be parallel to the direction of the slope. Our caravan had been fitted at our request with caravan movers – motor-driven rollers which could be made to engage with the two tyres and by turning them together up in opposite directions would move the ‘van slowly without need for a car. A remote controller like those for TV sets operated the whole thing. This was a new toy that we had not used before and it helped enormously. Within a minute or so the ‘van was in place.

The bottom-left hand photo shows the tow bar with, as I count it, six or seven levers, cables, tubes and buttons to watch, pull, connect or turn. Now, readers with caravanning experience will smile knowingly at all of this – and what follows – but it is a fact that using a caravan calls for a lot of things to be learnt, often by making mistakes. Believe me; staying in a hotel is easier. More relaxing. And far less satisfying if you want a sense of achievement afterwards. Applying the caravan brake was the easy bit. Putting wedges and chocks against the wheels was easy, too. After that it was like coordinating lots of little gadgets and gizmos in order to get the whole thing levelled and secured.

We had already picked up the idea of having a battery-powered hand drill with a special connector to unwind the corner steadies quickly (one is shown in the third photo). Using a spirit level on the tow bar casing, the jockey wheel controller and the steadies, Tony showed us how to get the van at an angle less like the side of Mont Blanc and more like a comfortable home. “Put the spirit level on the cooker to make sure the pans aren’t going to slide off”, Tony reminded us, as Doreen arrived with mugs of very welcome coffee from their caravan.

Next came the electric power supply from a hook-up point. It was about twenty metres away under some trees, close to a fresh water tap. The caravan came with a 25-metre, waterproof cable so it was soon connected. The ‘van has its own battery charged from the towing vehicle, and after a bit of anxious thought we remembered how to check that we were sing mains power and not drawing on the leisure battery. A tiny indicator on the fridge showed whether it was using bottle gas, mains electricity or battery power.

Filling the water container, a plastic barrel which rolls easily from the water tap to the caravan was no problem. But a panic began to arise when we couldn’t find the special connecting hose joining the barrel to the ‘van’s water pump. It was probably an hour later that we realised it was under the dark-glass cover of the sink. It had been demonstrated at the dealer’s and our salesman put it in the sink to deal with any water left in. Now, clean water in is one thing, but ‘grey’ water out must be dealt with, too. A second plastic tank, this time shaped like a large slab with wheels at one end has to be connected by plastic hoses, one from the shower/wash basin units in the bathroom, the second from the kitchen sink. This involved crawling part way under the ‘van to find two pipe ends and pushing the hoses on. They didn’t fit well and fell off at least twice, but otherwise worked. At least we didn’t have to do much with the toilet, apart from top up the flush tank with water with pink liquid added, fill a measure of magic green liquid into the receptacle tank, and a roll of loo paper by the toilet itself. Operating it would be a skill to be acquired later.

Inside the ‘van utensils, cutlery, plastic tableware and the table itself were being set out. I always thought that melamine tableware was a cultural hangover from the 1950s along with plastic wine glasses. Hmm... did they drink wine in caravans in the fifties? These days it’s more like essential fuel for caravanners. The real reasons are (1) glass breaks easily and becomes dangerous and (2) its lighter, and as Jack, or Club Towing Course instructor said, weight is a prime consideration when towing a van.

So at last, with several other smaller or now-forgotten jobs having been done, it was time to pour the old chardonnay into a couple of plastic tumblers – we haven’t got the proper little things yet. It was a couple of hours after our arrival when we sat down for our first meal. Somewhat exhausted. But with a great sense of achievement.

Image: Adria Adora 542DL composite

First Caravan Days - And Nights


One good reason for writing about caravanning is that my wife and I are taking it up. OK, let’s face it, it’s also the other way round – if you want to write about it, then you need to know at first hand what you’re talking about.

We have been planning ‘to caravan’ after retirement for over a year. Both of us want to travel some more and enjoy the semi-outdoor, easygoing life that the activity offers. So after I retired from lecturing in Tourism Management at Leeds Met a week and a half ago we picked up our chosen vehicle and moved it to a caravan park at Braunston Marina. Early on in the planning we fell for a German Hobby motor home. Then we realised we couldn’t easily explore back lanes and busy town centres in a motor home. We also found out that there are technical problems with using vehicles from other countries in the UK – electrical systems don’t quite function in the same way and gas safety devices required by law here are not fitted to all foreign units.

Anyway, we switched our plans towards caravans and visited shows and dealers. After inspecting several makes and models we settled for the Adria Adora 542DL as having the specification we wanted and a good price. The Adria is made in Slovenia to UK standards and the quality is high. Many components are British, such as power sockets, which helps a great deal.

So here it is, parked on an excellent Certificated Site – no more than five ‘vans – on the other side of a hedge from the Marina. We had arrived, and thanks to helpful veterans of many years’ caravanning, we got settled in. And discovered that there is more to the home-on-wheels pastime than sitting in relaxed postures with bottles of wine. We turned in on our first night exhausted. Of which, more in the next episode.

Image: Canal locks flight composite

Exploring By Narrow Boat


The origins of narrow boat holidays are often given as being in the 1940s. Tom Rolt, author of ‘Narrow Boat’, helped set up the Inland Waterways Association in 1946, two years after his book was published. A little earlier than that, though, Garry Hogg had written ‘Explorers Afloat’, a book for children that I have mentioned a few times recently and have just been re-reading. It first appeared in July, 1940. Garry Hogg’s owes something in turn to Arthur Ransome’s famous sailing adventure books for children which began with ‘Swallows and amazons’ in 1929 and have never been out of print. Ransome was writing in the period between the wars when getting out into the country and coast was becoming a national obsession. Hiking, cycling, camping, caravanning, boy scouts, girl guides and youth hostelling had origins in the nineteenth century but formalised growth in the twentieth. Boating on rivers, canals and the sea coast was a natural outcome.

During the 1950s commercial usage of the British canal system went into a nose dive. By the early 1960s most canals had either closed completely to traffic or become leisure waterways. By that term it needs to be remembered that fishing and walking the dog along towpaths were prime pastimes. Nature watching and (again, often thanks to L T C Rolt) industrial archaeology gave additional viewpoints of canals. Tom Rolt helped lead campaigns to preserve and reopen these waterways.

All of those pastimes can be enjoyed to the full when travelling by narrow boat. There is the additional joy of having a cosy, comfortable floating home which goes with you. The canal navigator has the kinetic occupation to enjoy of lifting paddles to fill or empty locks, swinging open lock gates, mooring, casting off and piloting the waterborne home in explorations of the many route miles of the system. No wonder so many people find it just so much fun.

Photos: on the Grand Union near Daventry.

Image: Managing Regional Tourism

Managing Regional Tourism – New Book


This book was published in May 2009 by Great Northern Books. I have to declare an interest as I contributed a chapter and it was edited and written by colleagues and contacts from Leeds Metropolitan University.

It has a sub-heading: A Case Study of Yorkshire, England. As such it is the first to deal with tourism management in a region of a capitalist economy. Yorkshire is a large area – not a county but a group of local government areas, but still in peoples’ minds a single entity. The book consists of eighteen chapters by specialists in a range of areas from history to human resource management. Managers from the public sector will welcome the inclusion of a chapter on public policy formation which, at the regional and local level at least, has been woefully lacking in the mushrooming growth of tourism writing. Others will welcome coverage of such recent political issues as the use of migrant workers or the use of tourism in regeneration projects. The latter deals with work in the last ten years, however, and it is a pity that the pioneering work in, for example, West Yorkshire and the Sheffield area from the 1970s onwards is not included. Recent initiatives are only representative of a few of the approaches which are available to comm
unities at different levels.

The book’s editor is Professor Rhodri Thomas of Leeds Met. In his Preface he points out that the volume “is not a handbook ... it does not claim to be a toolkit for managing tourism in Yorkshire ... it seeks to offer an analysis of the phenomenon from a variety of perspectives as it manifests itself in this location”.

Professor Michael C Hall of the University of Canterbury in New Zealand comments on the book that it gives “valuable reading not only for those examining tourism in Yorkshire, for whom it should be mandatory, but also those with a wider interest in tourism ... how it is embedded in broader issues of regional development, governance and planning”.

The book is priced at 29 which is rather high, even for a well-produced paperback like this one. However, Amazon offers discounts and market-place sellers through Amazon have had even bigger discounts on offer – see below.

Thomas, R (ed)(2009) Managing Regional Tourism: A Case Study of Yorkshire, England; Ilkley, Great Northern Books Ltd
ISBN 9781905080588

Click here for "Managing Regional Tourism" on Amazon.co.uk


Image: Chronology - Outdoor Classroom

The Outdoor Classroom


Under the inspiration of many writers and innovators, the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries saw ideas develop to take teaching and learning into the world outside the school and home. Some, like the Boy Scouts movement, were aimed at building the individual psychologically and socially. Others were related to academic subjects or a mix of the two ideas. Some important examples are shown here.

Dr Cecil Reddie founded Abbotsholme School in Staffordshire as a place to develop both the minds and bodies of its pupils in pleasant surroundings. Working within a community was important. Reddie had been influenced by Rousseau and John Ruskin and he admired the German secondary schools which emphasised involvement in the outside world. Even so, in an example of a long period of idea-swapping between the United Kingdom and Germany, he in turn inspired one of his teachers, Hermann Leitz, to return home to set up a similar school at Ilsenberg in 1899. Others followed in Germany as Leitz built up his activities.

Robert Baden-Powell counted British and American influences amongst his antecedents when he ran his famous camp for boys from contrasting communities in 1907. Out of that event on Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour, Dorset, came the Boy Scout and Guide Guides, Cubs and Brownies movements which were not outdoor classroom activities but educationally-aimed nonetheless.

Just after the First World War a German educator, Kurt Hahn, was employed as Secretary to the last Chancellor of Imperial Germany, Prince Max von Baden. In 1920 Hahn set up Salem School which also had aims of developing character and self-discipline. Hahn stood against the rise of Nazi control during the early 1930s and in 1932 was forced out, having written to his pupils to say they had to choose between the school's principles and those of the Nazi party. Kurt Hahn fled to England. Two years after leaving Salem he founded Gordonstoun in Scotland. The new school had its own strong blend of personal and social development set in the Highlands communities close to Inverness. The present Prince of Wales would become its most famous (though apparently reluctant) alumnus.

Hahn was to have another achievement in Britain. As the Second world War broke out, Gordonstoun moved to Plas Dinan in North Wales. Sharing a similar concern that had motivated Baden-Powell much earlier, Hahn and Lawrence Holt of the Blue Funnel shipping line began another school, at Aberdovey. This would attempt to improve the mental and physical qualities of boys entering the merchant navy. It was the first centre of the Outward Bound movement. As such it would expand into a series of centres and be used by many organisations anxious to train employees to be self-reliant and successful by using demanding physical and team-building techniques. There is a strong element here that also led towards much more informal adventure holidays, notably through companies like PGL after the war.

The last example of outdoor education shown above is the Field Studies Council which began life in 1947. It has already been the subject of a separate posting. The Council grew out of the observation of the difference between London children and their new neighbours when they were evacuated early in the war to Cambridgeshire. However, its work was not primarily aimed at individuals and human communities but at knowledge about the natural environment. Many field centres were opened and helped in the academic education of thousands of pupils and students.

Image: German 19thC school expeditions

Outdoor Education in Germany

14.07.09 - recalled from 11.01.07

The use of educational excursions and residential expeditions was introduced much earlier, and on a systematic basis, than other European countries. Most schools organised such visits every year with the use of day trips to historic or geographically important locations frequent - sometimes weekly. This was particularly so in the gymnasia which were intended as university preparation schools. The philosophic approach was termed Heimathskunde, the observation of local phenomena. As early as 1844 a book was published which was based on the walks taken by a teacher with his pupils.

The object of the visits was to instruct children in a love of their homeland, its history and culture, and how it related to the wider world of Europe and beyond. As history was taught by the 1890s in three stages - the study of heroes, the study of states (mainly Germany) and the study of the world at large, it was considered essential to give illustrations to the stories which teaching employed by seeing actual places. Geography was required to do similar things, demonstrating the natural landscape, the historic landscape, and the human activity from farming to industry which the German peoples had developed. So visits were made to mountain tops to see the views, to farmlands and villages, and to towns and cities with the industry within them. Residential journeys of two weeks' duration using the railway and hiking were common - often an annual event.

Some schools set up their one-day excursions as great occasions in which the whole school and its teachers marched forth behind a school band, with parents and others to watch them go. The youngest children at the rear walked the shortest distances before stopping for educational activities. Older children walked or marched further. At the end of the day they returned behind the band, forming up again as the more junior classes were brought back in to the procession.

The University of Jena ran its own gymnasium as a training unit for student teachers. Its longer expeditions brought together the older children together with trainee teachers from the university and the school teachers. Complicated journeys of two weeks length were made, for example through Bavaria and the Thuringian Forest, using long train journeys to get there and a mix of shorter rail journeys, hikes and mountain climbs to reach each location. Castles, historic villages, the homes of famous Germans such as Martin Luther, and factories making glassware and porcelain were featured. On one occasion they arrived at the Schloss-Altenstein, home of the Duke of Meiningen. The teachers in charge had heard the Duke was at the castle and they expected to be refused access to the grounds, but as they approached the grounds the Duke appeared, taking his morning walk. He stopped and chatted to the teachers, looked at the notebooks used by each child, and then led them to the balcony of the palace in order to get a better view. Then he summoned a soldier on duty and had him conduct the party round the estate. In other places local workers were invited to describe places and activities to the party, which an observer reported they did with great competence.

The teaching was definitely a matter of instruction, followed by questioning which was often responded to by the whole group in chorus. It was not expected that any child would venture an opinion or ask a question: it was not part of the educational method. In preparation for visits the group had learnt songs, often patriotic, and these were used to add to the sense of place and to revive weary children after a day walking. They stopped overnight in hotels. Small groups of children took it in turn to lead the way, bring up the rear, look out for points of interest not listed in the itinerary, and finally to help organise the domestic arrangements.

Out of this system came a number of things. Perhaps one was the powerful sense of highly organised patriotism which fuelled German attitudes to its position in the world of the first half of the twentieth century. It also, however, produced some of the great pioneers of geography like Humboldt and Ritter. Third, it fostered the huge love which German people have today of touring the places of the world and which makes them some of the most prolific travellers - and travellers with a purpose, which is to explore and to discover.

Image: Enkhuizen schoolroom exhibit

A Class Act

13.07.09 recalled from 15.02.07

This Dutch boy and his grandparents were experiencing what teaching was like around 1900. The scene was last April in the Zuider Zee Open Air Museum in the Netherlands, at Enkhuizen. It might have been a geography lesson about the former colonies of the Dutch East Indies and the wealth from spices that flowed back to Europe. The classroom is pretty authentic to the date of 1900, the people are modern, the teaching style a suggestion of what it might have been like. It's an exercise which helps visitors get closer to the past and they will understand what some of the differences would be between their play-acting and the real thing. Is it heritage-industry fakery or a piece of participatory educational theatre? As in Wigan Pier's Victorian classroom it stimulates more learning, by doing and by being, than a book or a lecture can. I bet he tells his grandchildren about it like his grandparents told him.

Image: Edgar Dale - Cone of Learning

Experiential Learning - Edgar Dale

13.07.09 - recalled from 20.01.07

Edgar Dale's well-quoted 'Cone of Learning' or 'Cone of Experience' was first published by him in 1946 but is often related to work in the 1960s and a book on audio-visual methods of 1969. Numerous publications, presentations and web sites refer to the Dale concept and make much of the percentage figures he included as to the effectiveness of different communication channels. It is not within the scope of this posting to argue the validity of these figures, but many researchers would now say that that they are too neat and generalised to be truly accurate. They don't allow for variations, in the quality and effectiveness of the text, pictures, demonstrations or participatory activities referred to, or in the learning approaches of the user of these media. However, there is much to suggest that Dale was broadly correct and that as indicative descriptions of effectiveness his 'cone' is a useful model. Like many other authors I have used a two-dimensional triangle with internal divisions rather the cone that he described. His concept has also been illustrated using a pyramid shape. Educationalists have made frequent use of Dale's ideas.

The development of ideas in Experiential Learning is often traced back to Dale although it can be seen in much earlier writing and practice. To be slightly flippant, note Wackford Squeer's dictum to Nicholas Nickleby that the best way to learn about horses was to have the pupils of Dotheboys Hall clean out the stables.

Experiential learning occurs in travelling and the discovery of destinations and what they contain. Tourists read interpetation panels and captions in museums and art galleries, but probably retain only a part of the written text - and observation would often suggest they don't read all of a long caption anyway. An accompanying illustration makes the communication, and therefore the learning or discovery of something more effective. For that reason I try to illustrate these postings attractively and often, and I do the same in my lectures using PowerPoint and data projectors. A visitor watching a demonstration of craftwork will absorb or retain much more than they would by reading rather abstract text and still pictures, at least in my own experience as a viewer and as a teacher. Doing something, taking part in something, is best of all: riding a railway, sailing a boat, having a go at throwing a pot or gathering leaves on a Sri Lankan tea plantation: then you know how hard and back-breaking some of these things just are.

It also helps to explain why students on placement learn such an enormous amount from spending time doing a job: a year doing it is even better.

Dale, E (1946) Audio-Visual Methods in Technology, New York, Holt, Rinehart and Winston

Dale, E (1969) Audio-Visual Methods in Teaching, New York, The Dryden Press

Image: Caravans have evolved

Vehicle-Based Tourism: Caravans


Camping with tents is a younger persons' activity, although not exclusively so. Caravanning tends to be an older person's pastime, though again there are plenty of exceptions. The credit crunch, according to a Mintel report of May 2009, has already helped to boost sales of tents and associated equipment, but depressed sales of caravans, hardly surprising given the very much higher costs involved. New 'vans can be priced at 10-20,000 quite easily, apart from the possible need to invest in a powerful car to tow them. There are many extra costs, too. A glance through the caravanning magazines reveals something of a profile of the market through the adverts, as usually happens. Full age adverts for glucosamine cod liver oil and herbal supplements appear regularly. Along with the appeal of living in a unit with no stairs and a comfortable car in which to travel, the glucosamine generation is easily drawn towards caravan life.

It is a picture which might well prove highly misleading. Caravans can be well-equipped bases for use in exploring not only the UK (for which read any other country where travelling is popular) but the rest of Europe as well. High and low tech aids to navigation like satnav are common. Likewise, the younger, IT-living traveller can hook up to wi-fi access on a growing number of caravan sites allowing the use of social networking and general information web sites. Email and mobile phone communication can continue. Satellite communication is available, too, though it can be prohibitively expensive at the moment when away from the home country.

More traditional technologies for cooking, washing up, showering, toileting, watching the telly and DVDs have continued to improve. Choose the right configuration of 'van and it's almost as good as home - well, if you forget for a moment about the much reduced space available, and in any case of course that does mean fewer surfaces to dust and polish.

Possible the niftiest device for the gadget geek is the one which helps with that perennial panic of the home-on-wheels aficionado, manoeuvring the caravan through 90 degrees into a narrow parking space. These days, for the addition of up to ten per cent on the cost of the 'van, a device known as a caravan mover can be fitted. An electric motor in line with each wheel can extend a driven roller into contact with the tyres and a hand-held remote control lets the driver stand nearby while directing the unit to turn in its own length if required before sliding neatly into place.

Now that is classy.

Image: Amsterdam tourists

Tourist Typologies


It’s useful to recap what some writers have said about different kinds of tourists – classifications, often called Tourist Typologies.


Cohen (1972) wrote that there were four kinds of tourist:

The organised mass tourist who buys a package holiday to travel with a group of other people on a fixed itinerary.

The individual mass tourist who buys a package of services such as transport and hotel accommodation but who explores away from the secure base of the hotel a little more.

The explorer who makes their own arrangements and activities but who still wants good familiar levels of comfort, service and safety.

The drifter who wants to live with, and like the people they are moving amongst. They have no planned itinerary and change their arrangements at will. They do not use the tourism industry if at all possible.


Plog (1977) proposed the ideas of ‘allocentrics’ and ‘psychocentrics’ and suggested that travellers could be classified as being at some point on a scale running from one to the other. At the extremes the psychocentrics were less adventurous, more inward-looking people usually preferring familiar destinations and popular resorts. The allocentrics were those more outgoing types who wanted more adventurous travel and challenges, probably to more exotic places. It can be seen that there are parallels with Cohen’s typology, but Plog was taking a more psychological angle in his idea.


In 1979 Cohen produced a new five-part classification:

The recreational tourist who enjoyed holidays involving physical activities.

The diversionary tourist who wanted to ‘get away from it all’ and escape their daily round.

The experiential tourist who looked for authentic experiences connected with the chosen destination.

The experimental tourist wanting to interact with local people.

The existential tourist who wanted to share the existence and cultures of the community at their chosen destination.


Tourist typologies tend to be either speculative (based on a writer’s thoughts on the subject) or empirical (based on some kind of formalised research approach). Generally there is some degree of mixture of the two elements. There have been many other versions and a useful survey of some of them is in:

Swarbrooke and Horner (1999) Consumer Behaviour In Tourism, chapter 7; Oxford, Butterworth Heinemann

Image: Finding out

Treasure Hunting


There's a lot of satisfaction in adding to your store of knowledge. All those bits and pieces of information you have picked up here and there begin to take shape and fall into place - just like that jigsaw you worked on years ago. The bigger picture emerges. And it turns out to be just the sort of key you need to unlock not only a whole host of fun activities but a better future because knowledge is what you need for all the better jobs in life.

So tourism is entertainment and its education combined. Get some independence of someone else's schedule and, yes, the world is your oyster with it's stock of pearls awaiting. Backpack around the globe if you can or round your part of it if you can't. Get your set of wheels (or a boat hull!) whether its a bike or a BMW. Put a tent in the cycle pannier. Or hitch a caravan to the towbar of your car. Then you can reach the pearls that other travellers might miss.

Image: Tourism formats tabulation

Tourism Formats


Adding some detail to the previous posting: the tourism 'formats' suggested are not mutually exclusive. There are overlaps and plenty of variations. These are only indicative characterisations. Virtually all tourism uses some form of transportation. You can cycle to a hotel. You can also hike from home over a mountain range, staying at serviced accommodation over each night - but might have driven or flown to the starting point.

An important advantage of vehicle-based tourism is flexibility. You can go more or less where you like, when you like. Backpackers also have a good degree of flexibility but within the confines of someone else's transport system. If they use a bike or car that they own, it becomes vehicle-based travel.

Image: V-Based Tourism Formats

Vehicle-Based Tourism – ‘V-Based Tourism’


Not heard of it before? Not surprising as this is the first to be written about it.

Now, there are many forms of tourism but let’s refer to three of them. Visiting Friends and Relatives is one of them – VFR. Serviced Accommodation is another. That includes holiday camps, motels, hotels, guest houses, pubs and anything else where you get a room and basic services are provided for you – which might not include meals, by the way. Back-packing is the third. Mainly a pursuit of younger travellers it usually is self-catering at a basic level, with or without meals provided but generally not. The characteristics which make it different from Serviced Accommodation are firstly that if any servicing is provided it tends to be at a very low level, but secondly that the travelling is done light weight, possibly only but not always and within a country low-cost public transport is sought after. There are overlaps and blends of the travel ‘formats’.

A fourth one can be added and you might have been itching to shout out some of its features half way through that last paragraph, demanding to know about camping or canal boat holidays. The fourth one as I see it goes for independence in both accommodation and transport. It keeps away from public transport and anyone else’s accommodation. It also wants independence from anyone trying to organise packages and flog them to you. It has a high level of exploration involved including travel methods, itineraries and accommodation, preferring to make its own arrangements for everything. Because the transport is key to this kind of independent travel and fulfils the need by using the tourist’s own or hired vehicles which supply the accommodation or else carry some lightweight form of it such as a tent, I am labelling it Vehicle-Based Tourism, or for convenience and brevity, V-Based Tourism. Bicycles (pedal or motor-powered) carrying camping gear, cars with caravans, or camping gear, narrow boats, cabin cruisers and yachts come into the category.

It doesn’t have to be exclusively a format for older people, but it might be considered that while back-packing is most popular with the younger traveller, V-Based Tourism is more popular with the older traveller who still wants to enjoy exploration with a bit of an edge to it.

[Picture 1: Focus Multimedia. Others: Author]

The Germans Had A Word For It


Eric Leed (1991) of Florida International University in Miami discussed Travel As Experience and its expression in a number of languages. He refers to what, in an ancient Indo-European language, was called *per (Leed uses the asterisk to signify that the word is believed by modern linguists to be one used in that language) meaning ‘to try, to test, to risk’ (p5). From that comes the English 'experiment'. He points out that *per also was used to talk about movement – travelling.

An Old High German word, irfaran, meant ‘to travel’ and was the basis of the modern German Erfahrung. In addition there is another German word bewandert meaning ‘astute’ or ‘skilled’, but which in the fifteenth century was used to describe someone as ‘well travelled’. A group of writers in the sixteenth century coined the term Apodemik by which they meant ‘rational travel’ – using travel observation to create journals recording and analysing the experiences gained. This idea was particularly promoted by the German humanist Herarius Pyrksmair. In subsequent centuries people advanced formal observational procedures by the use of lists of questions, check-lists if you like, of things to be observed and recorded. In his The Patriotic Traveller of 1789 Leopold Graf Berchtold set forth 2,443 questions under 37 different headings. An educational journey such as that of the Grand Tour should be used to write journals, send reports home, examine places and people encountered with a view to obtaining new knowledge and skills – and answer 2,443 questions.

Finally there is Erlebnis, a term which can be contrasted with Erfahrung in that it is used to describe deep, practical life experiences as opposed to rather more superficial perceptions. Erlebnis as a term carries with it the powerful sense of possessing insight into observed experiences – especially to be applied to those of the traveller.

Leed, E (1991) The Mind of the Traveller, New York, Basic Books

Image: Alphabets of Exploration

Exploration Alphabet


Virtually everyone likes to explore. I’m not talking about the kind of exploration enjoyed by Sir John Blashford-Snell or Sir Ranulph Fiennes. What I’m referring to is the kind which leads to nosing down alleyways or rural footpaths. It’s the small-scale version, about getting in to places we haven’t been in before or finding out the answer to some place-related problem that has been puzzling us. Like discovering just what there is down that lane round the hair-pin bend. Stretching muscles and pushing up the heart-rate isn’t the priority – though if that happens, so much the better. Tourist exploration stimulates the little grey brain-cells. It satisfies our curiosity. It sparks further questions and bit by bit becomes addictive. Sherlock Holmes solved crimes, Mulder and Scully investigated supernatural mysteries. How often does the man or woman in the street get to take on one of those mysteries? But surrounded by solvable, true-life, challenges, anyone can have a go and have the satisfaction of getting a real solution.

That famous term ‘The Four Ss of Tourism’ – sun, sand, sea and sex – refers to some of the basic elements of leisure tourism at its most hedonistic. Hunt them out. Track them down. In other words do the research and get yourself a great holiday. There is some exploration there, of the place and the people who inhabit it on vacation. Tourism wasn’t born of the four Ss, though. It might have had bits of them, but the pilgrimage, the Grand Tour and the day excursion all started for another reason, and that was – instruction, education, call it what you will. Yes, they might all have opened up opportunities for more fleshly pleasures, but that isn’t why they were begun. Exploration and instruction was what they were all about.

To the modern tourist explorer the ‘Three Bs’ set up some of the more basic motivations for hunting down highways and byways. Bargains, bistros and booze are what people are often looking for. We want to get hold of a few consumer goods as souvenirs or household additions. Flea markets are happy hunting grounds, as are stores which sell the kind of special goodies that we want. Bistros supply food and drink in popular style, but pubs, bars, restaurants and outdoor cafes add to the list.

We can also think of the two Ps – people and places. It might be another way of thinking about the attractiveness of the beach or the bistro, so is also another way of thinking about the other alphabetic groups. ‘People’ means socialising and it also means observing – what the French writer Charles Baudelaire called ‘the flâneur’. To Baudelaire this meant a person who wandered through cities in order to experience them, not only by seeing but by participating in the life therein. Walter Benjamin, a German Marxist, saw the flâneur as a non-participant, a bourgeois and a dilettante. To Benjamin the flâneur was no ignorant observer but a perceptive person, ‘tuned in’ to his or her surroundings. Both views seem to see the walker, the stroller (they do not use tour vehicles of any sort) as a reactive individual rather than a proactive explorer. Yet both are exploring, the one willing to go wherever chance encounter takes them, the other with some further measure of purpose.

So our tourist explorers can be motivated by Bs and by Ps (and those Ss as well – why not?). On the other hand the kind of explorer discussed in most of these postings tends towards the Bs and definitely the Ps. They have an active interest in finding out, in discovery, in accumulating knowledge deliberately, for fun and perhaps future usefulness.

[Photos, left to right - Florida, Barcelona, Rome]

For a Wikipedia article discussing the flâneur, click here

A useful book on these kinds of topics is:

Frisby, D (2001) Cityscapes of Modernity, Cambridge, Polity Press

Chapter 1 is called 'The City Observed: The Flâneur in Social Theory'.

Other pages:

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