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Tourism education in action: Tourism Destination Management consultancy project in Lloret de Mar

October, 18 2019
Girona Field Trips EMTM 2018-2020

Putting tourism education into practice is important to connect theoretical learning with real-world action. As part of the EMTM programme’s third semester, students get the chance to consult destinations in the area of destination management and marketing. In this post, Generation 2018-2020 student Spencer discusses his experience visiting Lloret de Mar, conducting field research in an ever-evolving mature seaside destination, and completing group work that provides direct recommendations to the local DMO and government.

Tourism education in action: Tourism Destination Management consultancy project in Lloret de Mar

The EMTM programme prides itself on providing a world-class education that takes the classroom out into the world, but this was probably best experienced when Generation 2018-2020 undertook the Tourism Destination Management class. Offered during the third semester of the programme, at the University of Girona, Tourism Destination Management is an opportunity to learn more about the practicalities of undertaking marketing, branding and product development activities in a destination. On top of introductory lectures to each topic (courtesy, this year, of professors Jaume Guia, Jaume Marín and Natàlia Ferrer-Roca), the class also involves a group project involving a four-day field trip to a destination, where you get to meet with local tourism stakeholders and experience the various tourism products offered.

This year, two destinations were visited by the EMTM cohort – Lloret de Mar and Andorra. Based on the field research undertaken, each of the seven project teams were required to prepare a consultancy report for the destination they visited, analysing the current tourism situation and providing recommendations and forward-thinking ideas for how the destinations can best move forward based on their unique challenges and circumstances.

Having been chosen to visit Lloret de Mar with fifteen of my colleagues, as well as one of our professors, I was curious to understand this mature seaside destination better. Having been unfamiliar with Lloret prior to moving to Girona, my initial research about Lloret shocked me, as the destination is often painted as an intensely nightlife-driven destination for young partygoers. This image has impacted the destination’s brand among many of its source markets (primarily Spain, France, the United Kingdom, Germany and Russia). Upon arrival, though, I was pleasantly surprised to discover a destination that had so much vibrancy and cultural heritage. Yes, Lloret de Mar has fantastic beaches and ample nightlife opportunities, but there is a wonderful gastronomy scene, a storied cultural history, a wealth of sports options for athletic visitors, and more. We also got to better understand the local accommodation scene, staying for three nights at the Evenia Olympic Park hotel, which offers four star accommodation with full or half-board and beautiful pools, among other amenities.

While in the destination, we got to meet many of the people who make the destination thrive, including the managing director of Lloret Turisme, Elizabeth Keegan, and the mayor of Lloret de Mar, Jaume Dulsat. We also got to visit many fantastic hotels and local businesses, including the adult-only Hotel Delamar, which is one of the top-rated hotels in Spain, as well as the five-star Hotel Santa Marta and Disco Tropics nightclub. We also got to visit the business event spaces at the Guitart Central Park hotel and the Evenia Olympic Resort, with some of the group experiencing Lloret’s MICE tourism first-hand through attending the Business Tourism Market conference that was taking place during our visit. Another highlight was learning about the local history of Lloret, particularly in regard to the indianos. Many individuals from Lloret de Mar travelled to the Americas (particular countries like Cuba) to start businesses. Those who were successful with these ventures often returned to Lloret, bringing their newfound wealth with them. These individuals, who came to be known as the indianos, built beautiful mansions to live in and invested heavily in the development and infrastructure of the city, leaving behind a strong legacy that is unique to the region. While many indiano houses were demolished to make way for the building of hotels and resorts, a few pieces of this legacy remain; we were fortunate to visit Can Font, a beautiful indiano house built in 1887 that is preserved today as a look into Lloret’s past.

Part of our field research also involved getting to know the local surroundings. We visited the nearby destinations of Tossa de Mar and Blanes, getting a better sense of each city’s complementary offerings to Lloret and how they handled destination development. We also got to kayak along Lloret de Mar’s stunning coastline with Transbrava, as well as undertake a guided Nordic walking tour of the town. The incredible scenery of this part of the Costa Brava is unparalleled and picturesque. Visits to the Santa Clotilde Gardens and Modernist Cemetery of Lloret were additional opportunities to learn about the deep heritage of the town, aspects of Lloret that are underrated and deserve wider recognition among prospective visitors.

Having only five days to prepare our consultancy report after returning from our field research, each of our teams of four had our work cut out for us. As a mature tourism destination, how would we be able to help the local government and tourist board build upon the great work already accomplished in diversifying Lloret’s tourism products? The time spent in Lloret de Mar was very inspiring, with our direct observations of the destination helping to generate a wealth of ideas that made preparing the final consultancy report a fun and intellectually stimulating endeavour. With a final presentation to our three professors, alongside Elizabeth from Lloret Turisme, we got a chance to have our ideas heard by decision-makers who can bring our ideas to the table for future tourism planning and development in the destination. The feedback we received on our reports was very helpful and it felt good to have our ideas and recommendations acknowledged as having strong potential for implementation in Lloret going forward.

While the goal of many Master programmes is to provide a strong theoretical perspective on a given topic, while developing a student’s research and critical thinking skills, it is important to complement theory with practice as well. This field trip to Lloret de Mar, and the accompanying project, was a fantastic opportunity to put the learning of the past 14 months of the EMTM programme into practice, creating a tangible outcome in the process. This was my favourite academic experience of the EMTM programme so far and I cannot wait to see how Lloret de Mar and Andorra might leverage some of the ideas generated by each EMTM project team.

Written by Spencer Toth, Canadian Member of EMTM Generation 2018-2020.

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