Today, many up-and-coming tourism destinations are experiencing rapid growth directly because of their links to popular culture: television, film and music. OUTPACE will harness the power of film induced tourism and popular culture to develop a new highly innovative pedagogy to support the acquisition of transferable, entrepreneurial and digital skills. It will provide HE educators, tourism development stakeholders and the enterprises they work with the knowledge and skills to capitalize on these contemporary growth trends.

The tourism sector is a vital component of member states’ economies because of its contribution to economic growth and employment, as well as its social, cultural and environmental implications (UNWTO; Eurostat). Today, many up-and-coming tourism destinations are experiencing rapid growth directly because of their links to popular culture: television, film and music etc.. Other parts of Europe are capitalizing significantly on film induced/pop culture tourism. Overseas visitors to the island of Ireland (includes Northern Ireland) grew by 8.8% in 2016, faster than both the world (+3.6%) and Europe (+1.6%) (TourismIreland), while in Iceland the number of foreign visitors has nearly quadrupled since 2010 (Icelandic Tourist Board).

However, there is a risk that the economic boost from pop culture may prove short lived. While a number of ‘first-mover’ local businesses have capitalized on trends, the tourism sector’s response to the opportunities has been fragmented. Evidence suggests that companies perform well on providing traditional services but are less able to respond to the more complex motives of pop culture tourists which rely on the mythology and perception of a destination rather than the real place (MacCannell, 1999; Selwyn, 1996 in Lexhagan et al.) and are ill equipped to offer the immersive, aspirational and emotional-based experiences that new generations of tourists come to expect (VisitBritain, 2016).

To remedy this OUTPACE will produce a rise in the number of tourism businesses which develop innovative products & services based on the opportunities afforded by pop culture tourism, thus generating more market-responsive & dynamic regional tourism economies.

We will respond to the needs by pursuing the following objectives;

  • IO1 Pop Culture Tourism Alliances & Actions Plans bring together tourism and creative/cultural industies stakeholders to analyse regional skills gaps audits, create an action plan and mechanisms for ongoing collaboration.
  • IO2 Pop Culture Tourism Resource Pack uses narrative text, examples and case studies to introduce tourism , creative industries and cultural heritage stakeholders to the concept of Pop Culture Tourism and its ability to transform regional tourism economies.
  • IO3 Open Education Resources for Pop Culture Innovators are tools to enable HE, VET and business support organizations to adopt a systematic approach to training learners in the development of innovative and sustainable products and services based on pop culture opportunities.
  • IO4 Pop Culture Tourism Innovators’ App, gives direct access to training and collective learning for educators, students and entrepreneurs interested in moving into tourism and the digital content for same through creative industries.

On completion the immediate impact of the project will be felt most keenly at regional level but we believe it will attract a significant degree of interest from enterprise development and tourism policy makers and practitioners at national level.