Workshop: Tourism & destination business
Hosts: Dr Julia Jones & Danny Keir, Sound Diplomacy (UK)
Delegates who attended this busy Room 4 session caught a first glimpse of Sound Diplomacy’s new United Nations-backed music tourism white paper, Music is the New Gastronomy, which provides a blueprint for cities and music businesses to leverage cities’ musical heritage to drive economic growth.
Music, said Sound Diplomacy’s Dr Julia Jones, is greatly under-exploited as a “theme that can be harnessed and leveraged for economic returns.” “The upper hand we [the music industry] have is that people are emotionally attached to music,” she explained.
While an existing music heritage is helpful, said Jones, it’s not essential. “If you’re Liverpool you’ve obviously already got a great story and heritage but not everywhere is Liverpool,” she explained. “But the parameters can be stretched beyond belief: you don’t have to have nurtured the Beatles.”
She used the example of the Parkes Elvis Festival in Australia (the town of Parkes, in New South Wales, has no connection to Elvis Presley), which has grown to become a five-day event attracting in excess of 25,000 people annually. (Another New South Wales town, Trundle, similarly recently launched an Abba-themed event.)
However, “if a destination has existing music heritage, that’s gold-dust,” according to Jones, who said towns must capitalise on their musical history. “For instance, I live in Folkestone [in south-east England]. Noel Redding was from Folkestone, and the Jimi Hendrix Experience spent a lot of time there and played one of their first gigs in the town, and what have they done with it? Nothing.”
Keir said the rest of the world could learn from the Americans. “The US absolutely get the value of this stuff,” he said, highlighting cities such as Memphis as good examples.
“if a destination has existing music heritage, that’s gold-dust"
As a case study, the pair outlined how Matala Beach in Crete – the sleepy former hippie hangout namechecked by Joni Mitchell in Carey – worked with Sound Diplomacy to develop its tourism market. The resulting Matala Beach Festival was attended by 100,000 people in its first year, and “the boost to the local economy was higher than the whole season’s tourist takings,” said Jones.