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Making Sense of The Travel Learning Experience- 1

"Thank you for the posts re making sense of the travel
learning experience. It's helped refresh my thinking
for a couple of projects I am working on"

(message from a marketing consultant).

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This presentation is a follow-up to the ‘Back to Basics’ lecture given in Havana in November 2010.  The lecture slides and notes for that are available on the page under that title on the left.

Many people have found that presentation stimulating in its advocacy of a reassessment of the significance of travel and tourism.  It has been visited several thousand times.  You are welcome to download material for educational or personal use but not for commercial purposes in any shape or form.  If you quote from this presentation, please give references to its authorship and source, preferably using the Harvard system.  Slides may be included in your own presentations only on condition that they are reproduced entire with clear attributions to the source.

I here expand on ideas touched upon in the ‘Back to Basics’ lecture.  This presentation will be divided for convenience into three parts, all available on this web site via the list to the left.  The second and third parts will be added shortly.

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I worked for a total of nineteen years in three different sectors of the tourist industries – local government, educational charities and the commercial sector.  I also taught in a secondary school for two years, and seventeen as a Senior Lecturer at Leeds Metropolitan University.  For many years I led local history weekends for Embassy Hotels in many places in the United Kingdom, and ran local education authority on similar subjects.

Now  I am retired and writing a book on educational aspects of tourism.  These pages link to that work.  I’m keen that it has appropriate quality for academic study, but I also want to break away from the relatively confined approaches of academic work.  So the style is sometimes a more personal one.

In order to develop and disseminate ideas which bridge the divide between industry and academia, I offer them here for discussion.  If you want to comment or set up a student workshop or presentation, do contact me at the email address shown at the top of the home page.

Most photos used here were taken by me or by family members who have given permission for their use.  Some others are in the common domain or are included under the terms of fair usage in academic discussion.

Harvard-style and web references are shown with the relevant slides.

There are several more pages developing tourism theory and application in the list to the left.

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‘Streams’ is a common term in education and communication studies.

In the present sense it’s important to realise they work in both directions – from and to each participant in the process.  This will be discussed in slides dealing with feedback.

Individuals often receive information from these sources simultaneously.

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In the next four slides the streams are again shown separately, but in reality they often work in combination. 

So mobility, for example, gives a child access to switching on the TV set or computer, and those media can be used in a family or friends’ group while talking about them, swapping ideas and learning from each other.

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Each stream builds on those more basic to it.  Above, number 1 is the most basic,  number 4 the most advanced.

For example, mobility not only brings the stimulation of a new environment but the chance to talk about it with both old and new contacts.  An example is the firefighter showing equipment at work in a public display day. 

The media bring not only new images and sounds, but details of destinations which are visited vicariously, through media in different forms.  Teaching combines a new range of contacts with the use of classroom mass media and opportunities for school excursions.

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The ‘later school age’ here refers to secondary or high school education.  But it is still a period when out of school activities at home or elsewhere are continuing to build experience, knowledge and attitudes.  The two boys were searching for geological samples on a school trip, the girls eating ice creams at a school Christmas party.

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The shift for most teenagers in to living away from home, or spending more independent time away from home, alters the basis of their way of life into adulthood. 

This affects their use of every stream of information. 

Increasingly, ‘life long learning’, or modes of formal education through workplace courses, voluntary classes, workshops and conferences etc, is an important influence.

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Tourist trips might be the result of interest built up over a decade or two.  An example of a child reading Treasure Island might start dreams of exploring topical islands.  Travel companies have often used the ‘voyages of adventure’ metaphor in their promotions.  The twentieth century Workers’ Travel Association did in the pre-war brochure shown.  Most of their holidays were to European destinations, but the exotic image remained.

I had read Treasure Island and a children’s version of Robinson CrusoeCoral Island was another favourite.  (Lord of the Flies would follow much later).  The Children’s Encyclopaedia from Odhams Press sits on my shelves today, a much loved link with childhood.  When teaching tourism management, the guidebook to the Caribbean was a good source book.  My only trip to the area came in 2010 during the Cuba conference when a colleague and myself made a visit to the south coast of the country where we watched people fishing.  It was a day with first-hand experience of what until then had only been in my imagination a long time ago.

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London is one of the world’s best known cities – to millions who have never been there.  So how well is it really known?  Would a visitor who only ever made one trip walking from Westminster to Buckingham Palace know it better than a New Zealander who had seen a dozen movies and documentaries but never been abroad? 

‘Knowing’ is an amorphous affair.  We may ‘know’ that one plus one makes two, but can we ever claim to ‘know’ a city occupying hundreds of square miles, hundreds of years of visible history and which is home to millions of diverse people?

Just to consider tourists.  Most are looking for the connections with history, especially royalty, the arts and manufactures; with the theatre, music, sport, architecture, parks and open spaces.  In an old city like London these are the product of history. 

Shouldn’t London be showcasing its vision of the future – a better place to live, work and visit than it is now?  Sherlock Holmes and Jack the Ripper are powerful icons.  Who would be the modern hero and who the villain to be vanquished?  What would be the face of modern London – the fondly-nicknamed Gherkin office tower or that warily-labelled Shard?  Knowing who is creating the images of modern London might be a worrying thought .... politicians and bankers on the one hand or Olympic stars and Gamesmakers on the other.

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It’s impossible to see the full range of influences shaping forms of tourism unless you start to set them out systematically.  And you can’t grasp the many effects either.  The knowledge and opinions that help create them come from many sources.  How they influence other people means having to find out what channels of information are in use, how they are used and with what effect.  Later, some well-established theories from communication studies will be reviewed.

This matrix is really a set of four lists.  One person can draw them up, but it is a useful exercise for a group to consider, adding ideas to a flip chart or whiteboard.

The next slides take some historical examples for starters.  Each of them is capable of a much more detailed examination.  The aim here is to highlight some of the main components and tease out some of the less well known.  Some of the relevant parts played by tourism in the context of other communication streams are suggested in each application.

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The Great Exhibition of 1851 brought a remarkable combination of influences and developments affecting Great Britain and the world in general.  It was preceded by several decades of work, notably in France and Britain, in all of the relevant areas.  Afterwards there was at least a century of innovations in the shape of Expositions, Fairs or Exhibitions, especially in France again and the United states of America.

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Britain was shown off as a powerful industrial nation, though one in which the quality of its products was often less important than their quantity.  The event had a lasting effect on the ways in which different sections of society related to each other.  Mixing visitors from home and abroad heightened knowledge of each other, though in the competitive, nationalistic, atmosphere of the times it often heightened mutual criticism.


Tourism in its many forms received a strong boost, most of it related to knowledge, information and ideas.  The part played by Thomas Cook and the railway companies was particularly important.

Useful books:

Allwood, John (1977) The Great Exhibitions, London, Studio Vista 

Davis, John R (1999) The Great Exhibition, Stroud, Sutton Publishing

Greenhalgh, Paul (1998) Ephemeral Vistas: The Exposition Universelles, Great Exhibitions and World’s Fairs 1851-1939, Manchester, Manchester University Press

Greenhalgh, Paul (2011) Fair World: A History of World's Fairs and Expositions from London to Shanghai 1851-2010, Winterbourne, Papadakis Publisher

Leapman, Michael (2001) The World for a Shilling: How the Great Exhibition of 1851 Shaped a Nation, London, Headline Book Publishing

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(Publicity photos - Cadbury's)

Modern companies don’t usually create whole villages or towns around themselves.  In the nineteenth century quite a few did.  Supplying the houses, shops, churches and chapels, meeting halls, even colleges and transport links was a way of attracting the best workers.  Tt was done out of a belief that business people had a duty to set a higher quality of life.  It was good for business and their social standing, yet was often a matter of strongly-held religious beliefs.

The Cadburys were Quakers, like so many British industrialists.  Some of their actions deviated from the early Quaker philosophy, notably in their extensive advertising campaigns which might have been frowned upon at one time as unhealthy self-promotion.   They built Bournville as a factory village with a very positive image, though not always to the taste of modern people in that it lacked a pub out of religion-based beliefs.  It is still highly regarded and has for over a century been an excursion attraction.  Very much to popular taste today is their confectionary, especially in chocolate.  It has to be said, though, that the recent takeover by Kraft Foods was regarded with dismay and disappointment as that firm is associated with  low quality and profit-before-people activity out of line with the Cadbury tradition.  No member of the Cadbury family has been associated with the company now for several years.

‘Cadbury World’ is one of Britain’s greatest industrially-based attractions.  It replaced the kind of factory tours that showed off the production lines from the late nineteenth century onwards, with village tours part of the package.  The same kind of commercial showcase approach was characterised by the American Natural Food Company who made Shredded Wheat in a fine factory at Niagara Falls from 1901.

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Using the Learning-Stream Matrix to examine Cadbury’s success factors produces the above results.  Many others could be obtained by going in to greater detail or by taking different perspectives.

Useful books:

Bradley, John (2011) Cadbury’s Purple Reign: The Story Behind Chocolate’s Best-Loved Brand, Chichester, John Wiley & Sons

Cadbury, Deborah (2010) Chocolate Wars: From Cadbury to Kraft – 200 Years of Sweet Success and Bitter Rivalry, London, Harper Press

Cadbury Publicity Department (1931) Century of Progress: 1831-1931, Bournville, Cadbury Ltd

Cadbury Publicity Department (c1960) Bournville: The Factory in a Garden, Bournville, Cadbury Ltd

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I regard the Eden Project as one of the best new tourist attractions to have been opened in Britain in the last fifteen years.  And that is partly because, as someone woefully ignorant of plants, I find it a very satisfying experience.

It gets just about everything right.  The place tells its stories right from the car park to the heart of those spectacular biodomes.  Visitors walk into the Visitor Centre without seeing what occupies the former Bodelva Pit just beyond, but there is plenty to whet the appetite even so.  The building is smart and unusual.  Inside, there is an air of busy activity.  The quirky ‘world without plants’ display operates like a small theatre, fascinating children and intriguing adults watching it work.  Then, having sorted out admission tickets, the visitors step out onto the viewing terrace and – bang! – there it all is down below, full of colourful, unusual domes, structures and growing zones that demand to be explored.  The Rainforest Biome and the Mediterranean Biome may be plonked into an od Cornish clay pit, but once you’re inside you have all your senses grabbed by displays built up of real, living, landscapes from exotic locations across the globe.

Ever since it opened in 2001 it has been a runaway success.  It was the next year, 2002, that saw it operating for the full twelve months, and since then there has never been a year with below a million visitors exploring it.  That isn’t to say it has not got its financial challenges like anyone else.  The economic pressures, coupled with terrible weather, of the last few years has been giving headaches aplenty.  Staff numbers have had to be reduced.  Yet the display and storytelling techniques are remarkable, the events that are held are entertaining and interesting.  Music, drama and spectacle are part of Eden’s hallmarks.  The place grows on you.

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The Eden Project started in a sense in 1992 with the opening of The Lost Gardens of Heligan a few miles away.  The restoration and development of that once-abandoned set of gardens caught the attention of the nation thanks to how it came back to life and was seen in TV shows and news reports to be a master class in horticulture.  Even the kids were impressed.  The key people who made Heligan work went on to a second, more ambitious project, and that was the gardens of Eden.

An earlier page on this web site takes a close look at the Project: Perfection in Paradise – The Eden Project.  See the list to the left.

Above, some the main influences that shaped the idea and gave it a successful outcome are noted.  There are more, many more, as a read of material about the Project would show:

Useful Books:

Blewit, John (2004) The Eden Project: Making A Connection in Museum and Society 2 (3) 175-19 Nov 2004

Eden Project staff (2012) The Guide: Everything You Need to Know to Make the Most of Your Visit, London, Transworld Publishers

Smith, Tim (2011) Eden, London, Bantam

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The federal capital of the United states of America was commenced in July, 1790.  The original design set out to locate the Presidency, Congress and Supreme Court in territory neutral to the individual states, with the requisite government departments and support services.  As a new capital city, it was planned to impress both US citizens and foreign visitors.  European cities including Paris and Amsterdam supplied ideas about the layout of avenues, circles and squares with vistas of important buildings and monuments.  The basic design was by the French-born architect Pierre L’Enfant, further developed by Andrew Ellicott.  President Washington and the Congress imposed their conditions, as did subsequent presidents and planners. 

However, buildings unfitted to the grand vision of the early designers sprang up all over the city during the next century.  The McMillan Plan of 1901 cleared slums and established parks.  It removed a railroad station and track that cut straight across the Mall. 

The city fulfills a showcase function both by the quality of its central area around the Capitol, White House and Mall, its important government offices, the museums, art galleries, theatres, parks and gardens and monuments.  The latter include landmark structures such as the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam and Korean Memorials and others.  The important Arlington National Cemetery with the burial places of soldiers, including President John F Kennedy, and the Pentagon military offices, are situated in the State of Virgina very close to Washington DC itself, but for tourists both form part of the federal destination.  The Tomb of the Unknowns contains the remains of unidentified soldiers from the First and Second World Wars and the Korean War.   A highly symbolic and precise military guard is kept 24/7 at the Tomb, with a single soldier following a fixed marching routine in front and a guard-changing ceremony a regular intervals.

National events, meetings and rallies take place in the city, including Presidential Inaugurations and political gatherings, all of which have become major national attractions for thousands of visitors. 

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A district with over half a million people and a history well over two centuries would need a tourism history book of its own.

Using the Learning Streams Matrix, some of the relevant parts played by tourism in the context of other communication streams are shown above.

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The lasting social legacy of two World Wars, plus twenty-first century economic stresses, make it difficult for many to appreciate Germany’s important role in both tourism and education.  Her people have been active tourists for centuries.  Travellers like Alexander von Humboldt and teachers such as Carl Ritter laid the foundations of geographical knowledge. Karl Baedeker published travel guides encyclopaedic in their detail yet popular and complete with work-of-art maps When von Humboldt, Ritter and Baedeker all died in the same year, 1859, the world lost three outstanding pioneers of global understanding. 

Friedrich Wilhelm Putzger produced fine atlases from the 1870s onwards in a series that is still in use today.  Many aspects of British educational tourism owe their origins to German pioneers such as Kurt Hahn, who opposed the rise of Hitler and fled to Britain where he later founded Gordonstoun School and – during the war - Outward Bound Centres.  Youth Hostels were begun by Richard Schirrmann in Germany before World War I and later introduced in other countries.  The Nazis forced him to resign from his position leading the German movement because he opposed their attempts to make it a tool of indoctrination.

There has been much written about Germany during the disastrous years of the first half of the twentieth century.  The brief six-year period when Adolf Hitler held power in a country ostensibly at peace (1933-39) saw him attempting to create his ‘Thousand Year Reich’ by turning every part of the state into a machine with a single purpose: the building of a National-Socialist state. 

The 1936 Berlin Olympics showcased the city.  They also supplied the opportunity for the Nazis to put on a well-choreographed show – a feature which other nations used in later events, right up to and including London 2012, of course.  On top of this, the film-maker Leni Riefenstahl co-directed and co-produced two noted documentary films based on the event.  These followed her film Triumph of the Will about the Nazi Party Rally in Nuremberg,1934.  Riefenstahl’s work on them could be described as technically superlative though reprehensible in their motivations.

A different kind of showcase for Hitler’s dreams was never completed.  Albert Speer was Hitler’s chief architect who designed the Zeppelinfeld Stadium where party rallies were held.  He planned a grandiose rebuilding of Berlin (model seen above, top right) on lines which would have fulfilled Hitler’s wish for a triumphalist capital for the Fatherland, to be visited by thousands of admiring tourists.  Little of it was ever actually built. 

Tourism was seen as a way of persuading foreign visitors that Germany was a peaceful country with an untainted, attractive Germanic culture.  Guidebooks, like the one for Berlin in 1936 seen above, omitted Jewish culture and history.  Military developments and the first concentration camps went unmentioned.  The two black and white photos with accompanying text in the slide here are from a publication of 1993 called Passing Through Germany.  It is a small guidebook aimed particularly at youth groups.  It describes German Youth Hostels, the Hitler Youth movement and ‘Fatherland’ sites like castles and the then-existing Tannenberg National Memorial, a Wagnerian pseudo-fortress and shrine to Hitlerism.  The booklet carries a two-page account of British Youth Hostels by an English YHA leader.  During the 1930s both the German Youth Hostels organisation (which was not National-Socialist) and the British YHA set up many exchange visits between their members.  The Nazi propaganda machine attempted to subvert the German activity to its own ends and to associate the British with them.

Three further initiatives were family cars, sea cruises and coastal resorts.  These were part of the work of the Kraft durch Freude (Strength through Joy) administration.  It ran the Volkswagen Beetle project, a way of letting ordinary workers save up to buy a car for running around or touring.  KdF operated six cruise ships for a time in the late 1930s, including the MV Wilhelm Gustloff shown.  Cruises were relatively cheap, using mainly Mediterranean routes.  Besides the usual features of shipboard life there were lectures about the history and ideals of the Nazi Party.  The third scheme was for a number of German coastal resorts to be built on a massive scale as versions of holiday camps.  There would be low-cost accommodation in barrack-like blocks, dining rooms, sports facilities and meeting rooms for suitably ‘educational’ lectures.  The only such resort to be started was at Prora (photo, top left) on the island of Rugen looking across the Baltic Sea.  It was a massive construction project.  Prora was never finished and lies unused to this day.

Having said that tourism was being used as a propaganda tool, reference must be made to Shelley Baranowski’s work.  She concludes that the National-Socialist regime still left tourism largely to the private sector while pressing it to take certain stances.  The regime saw opportunities in tourism, but its main priorities were in other areas such as the mass media.  It did see tourism as an important way of keeping up morale at home – hence the coastal resorts and the cruises.  Morale had collapsed during World War I so tourism for a home market was a way of forestalling this.  But when war came, tourism rapidly disappeared.

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The Learning Streams matrix above takes just a few of the influences and issues discussed.

Useful books:

Baranowski, Shelley (2004) Consumerism in the Third Reich, New York, Cambridge University Press
Coburn, Oliver (1950) Youth Hostel Story: The First Twenty Years in England and Wales, London, The National Council for Social Service

Kiesel, Karl (ed)(1933) Passing Through Germany, Berlin, The Terramare Office

Koshar, Rudy (2000) German Travel Cultures, Oxford, Berg Books

Other pages:

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