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Aaron Zipp - Scottish Highland Games

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International Highland Games as Sport Tourism Events Aaron R. Zipp Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences European Sport Tourism Academic Conference Limerick, Ireland 15 May, 2015
  • International Highland Games as Sport Tourism Events

    Aaron R. ZippAmsterdam University of Applied SciencesEuropean Sport Tourism Academic Conference Limerick, Ireland15 May, 2015

  • International Highland Games as Sport Tourism Events

    Introduction, Origins and History of the Highland Games

    Purpose of Study Highland Games as Tourism Methods Results Discussion

  • A Brief History; defining relevance

    King Malcolm III of Scotland, 11th Century Laws following 1745 Rebellion Military Training

    The reclaiming of a heritage denied is perhaps more impassioned than the reclaiming of one purposely shed or just forgotten

    (Celeste Ray, 2001)

  • The Festivals

    Bagpipes, drums, harpsDancingFood and drinkVendors (traditional clothing, facepaint, jewelry, books, etc.)Clans (historians)Visitor games and kids attractions (bounce houses)Sheepherding exhibitionFootracesLive Bands (nightlife)Heavy Athletics Events*

    Scotland, CT (of course)

  • Scottish Heavy Athletics

    9 Primary EventsAmateur to Professional Athletes

  • Purpose of Study

    To examine the economic impact of Scottish Highland Games events in North America and Europe

    At the exploratory stage, we have gathered data on the attendance of major festival events in the U.S. and Canada.

    Later stages further examine economic impact for host sites and athlete tourism

    Research on Highland Games is very limited (Brewster, Connell and Page, 2009).

  • Highland Games as Tourism

    In their 2006 study, Brewster, Connell, and Page (2009) identified rough estimates of attendance from 13 festivals in Scotland totaling 159,705. Methods included surveying organizers for attendance records.

    Host communities benefit from Enhanced local image Economic stimulus Increased tourism (spectators, competitors, vendors, entertainers, volunteers, and officials) Community development

    These may be of significant benefit to rural areas

  • Highland Games as Tourism

    Heritage Tourism

    advertising, sponsorship and the expansion of a comprehensive consumer culture which exploits many of the kitsch symbols of cultural identity; the relative acceptance of uniform rules, regulations and records under the control of such bureaucracies as the Scottish Games Association; the level of organizational control have led to a degree of democratization; and the continuing influence and dependency upon a romantic cultural identity, including images of Balmorality. All these facets contribute to a dominant interpretation of the modern Highland Games which itself has been mediated by a number of broader problems of modernity, (Jarvie, 1991).

  • Highland Games as Tourism

    Fits within UNESCO World Heritage and Sustainable Tourism Programme vision statement: World Heritage and tourism stakeholders share responsibility for conservation of our common cultural and natural heritage of Outstanding Universal Value and for sustainable development through appropriate tourism management (UNESCO, 2013; n.p.).

    Commercialisation of games poses threat to the remaining authenticity of games (Saleh and Ryan, 1993)

    Commodification of tradition (Lothian, 2001).

  • Methods

    Emailed 42 festival organizers selected from a list on Scotland.org http://www.scotland.org/whats-on/scotlands-festivals/highland-games/usa-canada-highland-games/

    19 responses, 4 addresses permanently failed, will re-try with remaining 19. Technically 50%

    All organizers of 14 North American Scottish Festival events and 4 events in Scotland offeredestimated attendance results of their 2014 games. One will reconnect after games are complete (occurring now)

    13 North American Festival organizers offered athlete data or had Athletic Director do so by email.

    Additional 2014 spectator population data was retrieved through direct contact with event organizers in Scotland in an effort to update and standardize Scottish event findings (4 in total).

  • 2014 Festivals in North America Maine Highland Games http://www.mainehighlandgames.org/ 4,700 50M, 7F

    Victoria Games, British Columbia http://victoriahighlandgames.com/ 19,000 50M, 20F

    Aztec Highland Games, New Mexico http://www.aztechighlandgames.com/ 1,000 70M, 25F

    Antigonish Highland Games, Nova Scotia http://www.antigonishhighlandgames.ca/ 20,000 12M, 0F

    Pleasanton Scottish Highland Games, California http://www.thescottishgames.com/ 50,000 55M, 75F

    Long Island Scottish Festival http://www.liscots.org/festival_and_games.htm 7,000 25M, 3F

    Tennessee Smoky Mountain HG http://smokymountaingames.org/ 12,000 exhibition only

    Columbus Scottish Festival, Ohio http://www.scottishfestival.org/ 4,500 30M, 6F

    The Celtic Classic Highland Games & Festival, Pennsylvania http://www.celticfest.org/ 300,000 10M Pro

    Seatle Scottish Highland, Washington https://www.facebook.com/events/51288157206582735,000 35M, 18F

    Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, North Carolina http://www.gmhg.org/ 30,000 no data

    Longs Peak Scotts-Irish Highland, CO http://scotfest.com/Scottish_Festival/Home.html80,000 72M, 36F

    Dandridge Highland Festival http://www.scots-irish.org/ 6,000 exhibition only

    Southern Maryland Highland Games http://www.cssm.org/ several thousand 51M, 15F

    *Figures largely based on estimates Attendance Athletes M, F

  • 2014 Festivals In Scotland

    Inverness Highland Games, Scotland http://invernesshighlandgames.com/ 3,500 12M, 0F

    Masters World Championships, Inverness Scotland http://www.scottishmasters.org/ 2,000 146M, 45F

    Nairn Highland Games, Scotland http://www.nairnhighlandgames.co.uk/ 7,500 no data

    Perth Highland Games, Scotland http://www.pkc.gov.uk/article/10638/Perth-Highland-Games 4,000 10M, 0F

    Total: 17,000 168M, 45F

    *Figures largely based on estimates Attendance Athletes M, F

  • Results and Opportunity

    13 North American Festivals in 2014Total Combined Spectator Estimate: 569,000

    Grandfather Mountain Highland Games North Carolina, USA

  • Discussion

    Limitations Disaggregated DataRecord keeping is very spottySome events are free, others have entrance feeSome events are athlete-centred, other events are large festivals with athletes as sideshow

    There is a vast difference in attendance figures at Games across Scotland, most of which are estimated as confirmed by DTZ (2007). A number of Games indicated this information was confidential and withheld admission figures, others did not keep a record and were unable to provide even estimated figures and some had free admission and no recording mechanism in place to accurately record numbers (Brewster, Connell, and Page 2009).

    Very simple management issues such as better recording of visitor information and entry fees would allow both individual Games venues and the Games organization (SGA) to provide strategic advice and guidance on developing these historically derived events which celebrate Scottishness and its distinctive culture

  • Discussion

    Very simple management issues such as better recording of visitor information and entry fees would allow both individual Games venues and the Games organization (SGA) to provide strategic advice and guidance on developing these historically derived events which celebrate Scottishness and its distinctive culture

    The report also suggests that a lack of business knowledge, committed volunteers, missed opportunities and lack of financial support are a threat to the sustainability of Highland Games.

  • Works CitedRay, C (2001). Introduction. Highland Heritage; Scottish Americans in the American South (p.8,12). Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press.

    Donaldson, E. (1986). The Games in Scotland. In The Scottish Highland Games in America (p.10,11,15). Gretna, Louisiana: Pelican Publishing Company, Inc.

    Brewster, M., Connell, J., & Page, S. (2009). The Scottish Highland Games: Evolution, development and role as a community event. Current Issues in Tourism, (12:3), 271-293. doi:10.1080/13683500802389730

    Jarvie, G. (1991). Highland Games: The making of the myth. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press

    Highland Games in USA and Canada. (n.d.). Retrieved April 11, 2015, from http://www.scotland.org/whats-on/scotlands-festivals/highland-games/usa-canada-highland-games/

    English Dictionary. (n.d.). Retrieved May 4, 2015, from http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english

    Scottish Highland Games Association. (n.d.). Retrieved May 1, 2015, from http://www.shga.co.uk/events.php