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Harry Potter Tourism in Great Britain Business Report

Kรณtay-Nagy Annamรกria Business Areas: Tourism BBN-ANB-266.03_231 Lecturer: Mรกria Adorjรกn


Table of Contents

1. Introduction ............................................................................................................................................................. 2 2. The attractions........................................................................................................................................................ 3 2.1. Alnwick Castle, Northumberland ........................................................................................................... 4 2.2. Glenfinnan Viaduct ....................................................................................................................................... 4 2.3. Goathland Station, North Yorkshire...................................................................................................... 5 2. 4. Oxford ............................................................................................................................................................... 6 2.5. Gloucester Cathedral, Gloucester ........................................................................................................... 7 2.6. Lacock Abbey, Wiltshire ............................................................................................................................ 8 2.7. King’s Cross Station, London ................................................................................................................... 8 3. The tourists ........................................................................................................................................................... 11 4. The impact of tourism ...................................................................................................................................... 13 4.1. Economic impact ........................................................................................................................................ 13 4.2. Social-cultural effects ............................................................................................................................... 14 5. A SWOT analysis ................................................................................................................................................. 15 5.1. Strengths........................................................................................................................................................ 15 5.2. Weaknesses .................................................................................................................................................. 18 5.3. Opportunities .............................................................................................................................................. 19 5.4. Threats ........................................................................................................................................................... 19 6. Conclusion ............................................................................................................................................................. 20 References .................................................................................................................................................................. 21

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1. Introduction Harry Potter has become an important part of 21st century popular culture as well as a prominent item on the list of quintessentially British products. J. K. Rowling’s book series, introduced to the general public in 1997 with the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, enchanted both children and adults, and became one of the top bestselling books in history with over 450 million copies sold (BBC, 2011). The unprecedented success of the books was

Harry Potter Tourism in Great Britain

soon multiplied by the Warner Bros film adaptations, creating a $21 billion business (Kruhly, 2011). Although Harry’s story has ended by now both on the papers of the book as well as on screen (the last film was released in 2011), it did not lead to the plummeting of the Potter business. On the contrary, data show that a lucrative business has been built upon the needs of Potter fans. One of the most important segments of this business is the extensive tourism to the film locations in Great Britain. By taking account of the main attractions, giving a profile of the tourists, discussing the impacts of tourism and presenting a SWOT analysis, this report seeks to the identify the current trends of Harry Potter tourism.

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2. The attractions The Harry Potter tourism is a relatively new phenomenon as the first tourists arrived following the premiere of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in. The number of visitors grew as more and more films were premiered. With the films now having come to an end, the wizard tourism has just started its real era of flourishing (Whittaker, 2011): Potter fans find the “pilgrimage” to the film locations one of the most important ways of recreating the enchanting world. As it was mentioned earlier, the Harry Potter phenomenon is not only a successful global business but also a quintessentially British product. All the places and sceneries in the books as well as the films are British to the core. By bringing, for example, the lively streets of London and the beautiful mountains of Scotland on the screen, the Harry Potter movies have become an extremely valuable tourism potential. As Seren Welch, campaign manager for the British Tourist Authority formulates:

“The

sheer

Britishness of the film and variety of locations it covers is a fantastic opportunity to promote Britain” (as cited in BBC, 2001). Websites

discussing

Harry

Potter tourism list 7 attractions that every Harry Potter fan has to see (Chiff.com, BBC, Empire, Semlyen, Whittaker).

VisitBritain,

Figure 1. Harry Potter locations. Source: BBC News.

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2.1. Alnwick Castle, Northumberland This beautiful castle, built in the 1300s in Northumberland, gave home to the filming of Harry Potter’s first flying lesson. The castle and its vicinity is one of the most popular Harry Potter attractions. Due to the influx of Potter fans, this city saw a 120% rise in visitors and generated $120 million up to 2011 (Whittaker,

Harry Potter Tourism in Great Britain

2011).

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Figures 2 and 3. Alnwick Castle and actors recreating the scenes of the film. Source: Flickr and Photobucket Creative Commons.


2.2. Glenfinnan Viaduct A frequently visited Scottish attraction is the Glenfinnan Viaduct, which featured many times in the scenes of the Hogwarts Express. The viaduct was built in 1901 and today the surrounding area remains a prime stop for walking tours through the Scottish highlands (Chiff.com).

Figure 4. Glenfinnan Viaduct. Source: Photobucket Creative Commons

2.3. Goathland Station, North Yorkshire In the films Goathland was transformed into the final stop of the Hogwarts Express, a little town called Hogmseade where students and professors of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry often pass their time. As station master of Goathland John Bruce points out, a lot of Harry Potter fans visit this place in spite of the fact that it is not easy to access it: “you have to go from Kings Cross to Darlington, Middlesbrough and then down Whitby line, with one change� (as cited in Semlyen). Passenger receipts on the railway were up 21% following the release of the first film (Guardian, 2003).

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Harry Potter Tourism in Great Britain

Figure 5. Tourists taking pictures on the footbridge at Goathland. Source: Flickr Creative Commons.

2. 4. Oxford Oxford University, one of the oldest and most prestigious university campuses in Europe also opened its doors to the Potter crew. The Hall of Christ Church College appeared in the iconic scene when Harry first entered the school with his classmates and was greeted by Professor McGonagall. Bodleian Library was also a prominent film location, functioning as the library of Hogwarts.

6 Figure 6. Tourists in Christ Church. 漏 Anna K贸tay-Nagy.


2.5. Gloucester Cathedral, Gloucester The cloisters of the cathedral appeared as the dignified corridors of Hogwarts. The cathedral, originating from Norman times, has become a popular attraction due to the films. As Barbara Lloyd, the Cathedral's Operations and Marketing Manager formulates, "suddenly you'll get an influx people in cloaks (‌). Children will bring their families to see it. It's been great news for the Cathedral" (as cited in Semlyen).

Figure 7. The Cloisters of Gloucester Cathedral. Source: Flickr Creative Commons.

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2.6. Lacock Abbey, Wiltshire The abbey, dating back to 1232, featured in the films many times: it gave home to scenes of magic lessons as well as late-night rambles. The vicinity of Lacock appeared in other films as well, such as Pride and Prejudice, Moll Flanders and Emma (BBC News).

Harry Potter Tourism in Great Britain

Figure 8. The chamber in Lacock Abbey, which gave home to the Potions classes in the films. Sources: Photobucket Creative Commons.

2.7. King’s Cross Station, London 8

One of the most popular Harry Potter attractions is the iconic King’s Cross Station and its imaginary platform 9¾, known as the gateway into the world of wizards and witches. Due to the immense interest, a "Platform 9¾" sign has


been erected on a wall of the station's building containing the real platforms 9 and 10. To make the experience complete, half of a luggage trolley has also been installed below the sign so that tourists can take pictures as if they were just about to enter the magical world.

Figure 9. Platform 9ž. Š Anna Kótay-Nagy.

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The above attractions can be reached in different ways. As Lee (2012) points out: Harry Potter ventures include day-trips via buses or specialized taxi services, multi-day expeditions ranging from large ‘big bus’ cohorts to small travelling parties, and walking tours that are professionally organized or self-guided explorations using itineraries and maps freely sourced from

Harry Potter Tourism in Great Britain

the internet and tourism publications. (pp. 53-54)

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Figure 10. A Harry Potter tour advertisement on the Internet. Source: http://www.the-magician.co.uk/


3. The tourists Studies and reports discussing characteristics of Harry Potter tourists in general are few in number. There are two papers that have identified certain patterns: Lee’s case study (2012) and Evans’ (2004) comparative analysis of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings tourism. On the basis of these studies as well as the information that can be found about the individual attractions, some patterns can be identified.

While Harry Potter locations are attractive to domestic tourists as well, the majority of the visitors are inbound tourists. The largest group of people come from the United States, followed by Europeans. Tourists from as remote places as Japan also arrive in large numbers (Guardian).

The Harry Potter-themed tourism was built upon the needs and interests of a special group, therefore it can be labelled as niche tourism.

As far as age is concerned, the most important age group consists of people between 19 and 27, that is, those young adults who “grew up together” with Harry Potter. They are probably the visitors who have the strongest emotional ties to the story and therefore are willing to pay high amount of money to feel the complete Harry Potter experience. The other clearly identifiable group of people are children and teenagers who have just begun to acquaintance themselves with the Harry Potter experience through the books and the films. These young visitors are always accompanied by their parents, who, most of

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the time, also like the Potter saga and are interested in visiting the film locations. It is important to point out that tourist do not only get to know the world of Harry Potter when going on a film location tour, but also get an insight into Great Britain. This dual function of Harry Potter tourism can be very attractive to parents. Therefore, it can be concluded that Harry Potter tourism is “not strictly aimed at, nor attractive only to, children” (Lee, 2012).

Tourists seem to be very open to the initiatives of the Harry Potter attractions. In order to have the complete experience, they are willing

Harry Potter Tourism in Great Britain

to take part in games organized by the staff, visit nearby

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supplementary sites such as gift shops, museums or even dress up in cloaks. (Lee, 2012)

The hospitality/accommodation sector is highly developed in case of all attractions, tourists can choose from a wide range of offers (as can be seen on TripAdvisor, Hotels.uk.com). Christ Church offers accommodation within its college, too (Website of Christ Church).


4. The impact of tourism 4.1. Economic impact The books and films were awarded a 'tourism Oscar' (Excellence Award) for their Outstanding Contribution to English Tourism (as cited in Evans, 2004). However, there are no collections of data published about the overall number of tourists who visit the destinations because of Harry Potter. It is still possible to state on the basis of the increase of visitor numbers at individual attractions that the number of tourists visiting the attractions has grown between 50-100% because of the Harry Potter films (Semlyen, Evans). It is also important to point out that the price of organized Harry Potter tours range between £500-1000, depending on the number of participants. This is a relatively high fee, which, multiplied by a high number of tourists, can generate a lucrative income.

Tour prices Passengers

Price London &

Oxford &

Oxford

Gloucester

Medium

Up to 2

£510

£580

Large

Up to 4

£580

£680

Extra Large

Up to 6

£710

£780

Minibus

Up to 11

£970

£1,095

Figure 11. Prices of Harry Potter tours. Source: British Tours & A Traveller’s Guide to London.

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There are many businesses around the attractions making profit from Harry Potter tourism. Next to the Platform 9¾ sign at King’s Cross Station, for example, a book shop was opened where all the Harry Potter books can be bought in different editions. Another example is the high interest in Goathland Station and the Glenfinnan viaduct, which led to an increase in train ticket sales (Semlyen) and thus generated a profit for train companies such as Midland Services and Virgin.

Harry Potter Tourism in Great Britain

4.2. Social-cultural effects

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As Lee (2012) points out, Harry Potter tourism is a form of cultural tourism. It enriches tourists with experience related to the world depicted in Rowling’s works. Moreover, by following Harry Potter’s footsteps, tourists are also offered the possibility to collect first-hand experience about British history, nature and everyday life. This can widen the horizons of visitors, create a positive image about Great Britain and promote understanding. Since many of the Harry Potter attractions date back to medieval times, Harry Potter tourism can reinforce the preservation of heritage and justify environmental protection as well.


5. A SWOT analysis 5.1. Strengths 

The marketing of the individual attractions can be described as excellent. All of the attractions utilize the potential of Harry Potter tourism by mentioning their connection to the film on their websites and creating supplementary programs and products. At Alnwick castle, for example, tourists can take part in Broomstick Training and other programmes, all of which are advertised on the website.

Figure 12. The website of Alnwick Castle offers interesting Potter-related programs. Source: http://www.alnwickcastle.com/explore/film-and-tv

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Harry Potter Tourism in Great Britain

Figure 13. Christ Church College advertising its connection to the films. Source: http://www.chch.ox.ac.uk/visiting/harry-potter

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Figure 14. The official map of King’s Cross Station indicates Platform 9¾ as well. Source: http://www.networkrail.co.uk/aspx/6544.aspx

Several tourist companies, such as Lynot Tours, London Taxi Tours and British Tours, offer organized Harry Potter tours. The promotion of these is also excellent. As Evans (2004) points out, these companies have nicely formulated and attractive brochures. Some examples as cited in Lee (2012): Have you ever dreamed of going to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, or maybe of walking over the green hills of The Shire? If so, you need to go on a MAGICAL TOUR. There is simply no better way to experience

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enchanted Britain. Go with us and fall under the spell … (Have Magic, Will Travel; Magical Tours business card)

After this magical experience you’ll never think of the Harry Potter books and movies in the same way because – for a little while at least – you will have lived in Harry’s world yourself!’ (Spells and Charms Tour itinerary)

It is also an important strength that Harry Potter tourism, except for certain attractions such as the Alnwick Castle, is not affected by

Harry Potter Tourism in Great Britain

seasonality, so tourists are welcome every time of the year.

5.2. Weaknesses 

The access to some of the attractions is not easy. It was pointed out that in order to reach Goathland Station, for example, tourists have to go from Kings Cross to Darlington, Middlesbrough and then down Whitby line, with one change. Although some tour operators offer travels to Oxford, Gloucester or Alnwick, there are no organized tours covering all the famous Harry Potter attractions.

Another important weakness is that there are no public institutions that organize exclusive Harry Potter tours. Although the official tourist website of Great Britain, visitbritain.com has a Top 10 Harry Potter attractions page, tourists are left alone in the actual organization of the tour. While this level of individual responsibility can be inspirational for many people, the majority of tourists would welcome an organized and exclusive tour with the troubles of

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planning taken out of their hands so that they can enjoy a carefree Harry Potter experience.


5.3. Opportunities 

The establishment of a stately owned Harry Potter tour operator providing inclusive Harry Potter tours could attract much more people and thus generate income for the British GDP.

Celebrity endorsement could evoke even more interest (for example, the actors of the films such as Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint or Emma Watson could feature in promotional videos advertising Harry Potter locations).

5.4. Threats 

The recent economic crisis was a major blow to tourism in general and it can have implications for the Harry Potter tourism as well.

Since the Harry Potter story has come to an end in 2011 by the release of the last film, the managements of the attractions have to secure that the interest of tourists is upheld constantly.

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6. Conclusion Harry Potter tourism can be regarded as a valuable asset of Great Britain. While there are some fields in which development is needed, the overall situation of Harry Potter tourism is very promising. Forecasts are optimistic (Daily Record, Whittaker) and the demand seems to be constant. As a final

Harry Potter Tourism in Great Britain

conclusion, it is worth quoting Lee’s (2012) prognosis:

(…) the Harry Potter phenomenon is far from over. Part of this is because ‘Harry Potter’ is now firmly ensconced within a multi-media(ted) sphere composed of everexpanding paratexts (tourism being just one of them) that will guarantee its longevity. The ability to walk in the footsteps of Potter (and his friends) or J.K. Rowling, to physically re-live and re-enact a moment in the narrative and its production, is but one failsafe against being forgotten and buried in the popular culture archives. (p. 65)

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References Alnwick Castle. Retrieved December 14, 2012 from: http://www.alnwickcastle.com/explore/film-and-tv

Evans, M. (2004). Lord of the Rings versus Harry Potter: Case studies of film tourism in

action.

Retrieved

December

14,

2012

from:

http://www.insights.org.uk/articleitem.aspx?title=Lord+of+the+Rings+vers us+Harry+Potter+%E2%80%93+Case+Studies+of+Film+Tourism+in+Action

Harry Potter is wizard for tourism. The Guardian. Retrieved December 15, 2012: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2003/apr/24/pressandpublishing.theha rrypotterfilms

Harry Potter: Oxford and Gloucester tour. A traveller’s guide to London. Retrieved December 15, 2012 from: http://www.offtolondon.com/hp_tours.html

Harry Potter series to be sold as e-books. BBC News. Retrieved December 15, 2012 from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-13889578

Harry Potter tour. British Tours. Retrieved December 15, 2012 from: http://www.britishtours.com/harry-potter-tours-london

Harry Potter tourist destinations. TravBuddy. Retrieved December 14, 2012 from: http://www.travbuddy.com/blog/archives/462-Harry-Potter-TouristDestinations....html

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Harry Potter to weave tourism magic. BBC News. Retrieved December 15, 2012 from: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/1664005.stm

Ho, V. (2009). Harry Potter now UK’s top tourist attraction. Huffington Post. Retrieved

December

15,

2012

from:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/07/16/harry-potter-now-ukstop_n_236201.html

Harry Potter Tourism in Great Britain

Kruhly, M. (2011). Harry Potter, Inc: How the Boy Wizard Created a $21 Billion Business.

The

Atlantic.

Retrieved

December

14,

2012

from:

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2011/07/harry-potter-inchow-the-boy-wizard-created-a-21-billion-business/241948/

Lee, C. (2012). ‘Have magic, will travel’: Tourism and Harry Potter’s United (magical) Kingdom. Sage publications. Retrieved December 13, 2012 from: http://tou.sagepub.com/content/12/1/52.full.pdf+html?ijkey=9WziBWA75 MhfU&keytype=ref&siteid=sptou

Scotland can enjoy Harry Potter tourism boom for years to come, predict tourist bosses.

Daily

Record.

Retrieved

December

15,

2012

from:

http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/business-consumer/scotland-canenjoy-harry-potter-1076278

Semlyen, P. D. Harry Potter and the locations of filming. Empire. Retrieved

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December 15, 2012 from: http://www.empireonline.com/features/harrypotter-travel-guide/default.asp


The Harry Potter virtual film location tour. Retrieved December 15, 2012 from: http://www.chiff.com/a/harry-potter-travel-tour.htm

Top 10 Harry Potter locations. Visit Britain. Retrieved December 15, 2012 from: http://www.visitbritain.com/en/Travel-tips/Britain-for-kids-andfamilies/Top-10-Harry-Potter-locations.htm

Whittaker, B. (2011). Harry Potter tourism spikes UK economy. Foreign Translations. Retrieved

December

15,

2012

from:

http://www.foreigntranslations.com/blog/harry-potter-tourism-spikes-ukeconomy/

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Harry Potter Tourism  

film tourism, niche tourism in Britain

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