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The Sustainable Development of Culture Tourism in Scotland

   Business School

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  Dr X Chen, Prof Claire Wallace  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Culture and tourism have always been inextricably linked. Cultural sights, attractions and events provide an important motivation for travel, and travel in itself generates culture. But it is only in recent decades that the link between culture and tourism has been more explicitly identified as a specific form of consumption: cultural tourism.

The emergence of cultural tourism as a social phenomenon and as an object of academic study can be traced back to the surge in post-World War 2 leisure travel. Worldwide, travel helped to increase cultural understanding as well as rebuild shattered economies. As incomes and consumption continued to rise in the 1960s and 1970s, so did international travel, and the consumption of culture. By the 1980s, the flow of international tourists to major sites and attractions began to attract enough attention for the label ‘cultural tourism’ to be attached to an emerging niche market. Early academic studies of cultural tourism also surfaced at this time, and the World Tourism Organisation (WTO, as it was then) produced its first definition of the phenomenon. In the early 1990s the first estimate of the size of this ‘new’ market also emerged (at 37% of all international tourism) and were attributed to the WTO, even though Bywater (1993) comments that it was not clear how this estimate was derived.

Interest in cultural tourism continued to grow throughout the 1980s and 1990s, driven by the ‘heritage boom’ (Hewison, 1987), the growth of international and domestic travel and the identification of cultural tourism as a ‘good’ form of tourism that would stimulate the economy and help conserve culture (Richards, 2001). The beginning of the 1990s indicates a period of transformation of cultural tourism which, unlike the original orientation towards elite clientele, found a new opportunity for development in the orientation towards the mass market. 

Growth in cultural tourism was also marked by fragmentation into a number of emerging niches, such as heritage tourism, arts tourism, gastronomic tourism, media tourism and creative tourism. Just as an expanding notion of culture had helped to stimulate the growth of cultural tourism in the 1990s, so the fragmentation of the cultural tourism concept itself helped to produce a surge in the proportion of publications dedicated to the field. Growth also brought its own challenges, and by 2013 Boniface was already signalling problems with the overcrowding of World Heritage Sites, a phenomenon that is now being linked with the idea of ‘overtourism’. The problems being encountered with the conservation of tangible heritage and the growing desire of tourists for new experiences also helped to focus attention on the role of intangible heritage in tourism (Du Cros, 2012).

The aim of this PhD project is to examine 1) the emerging formats of culture tourism, 2) the profound influences of culture tourism upon destination communities, 3) the role of culture tourism in a comprehensive destination development. Cross-national cases would be preferred.

The study will be supervised by Dr. Xiaoqing Chen and Prof. Claire Wallace. Applicants are welcome to share their interests with Dr. Xiaoqing Chen prior to formally applying.

Prospective candidates are required to develop the project idea outline above into a PhD proposal of not more than 1500 words. The proposal should include relevant up to date literature sources and provide some indication of an appropriate research methodology that could be applied to the project.

To be considered for the project the candidate must also meet the standard entry requirements for the PGR programme. This includes a first-class undergraduate honours degree and master’s degree in a Business Management or equivalent in any Social Science Subject from an approved university. Further information on the application process can be accessed via link below.

How To Apply | Study Here | The University of Aberdeen (

Keywords: Cultural tourism; Tangible heritage; Intangible heritage; Indigenous tourism; Cultural consumption

Funding Notes

This PhD project has no funding attached and is therefore available to students (UK/International) who are able to seek their own funding or sponsorship. Supervisors will not be able to respond to requests to source funding.
To submit an application please visit
-Apply for 'PhD in Management Studies'
-State the name of the lead supervisor on your application
-State the name of the project
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