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Investigating Tourism Impacts of Festivals: An Exploratory Case Study of a Big-Scale Comic-Con

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In recent years, festivals have been increasing their prominence as a medium for endorsing local development, promoting tourism, and improving city image. Subsequently, festivalization of culture has become a growing phenomenon that not only serves for primary purposes, such as audience outreach, cultural creativity and exchange, but also brings along a significant resonance with extensive socioeconomic impacts both in and out of the local destination. On the other hand, cultural production has been evolving with increasing variety and availability of multimedia products and expanding its audience with new consumption patterns; thus, giving birth to emerging forms of alternative cultures. As an interesting example, the fantasy genre in popular culture became a large umbrella of declinations that includes literature, games, comics, cinema, and their transmedial convergences, as well as related forms of lifestyle narratives. On the intersection of these two phenomena, this article aims at investigating the tourism impacts of a unique festival, a comic-con, Lucca Comics & Games (LC&G), in light of the festival motivations, experience, and meanings. The history of LC&G dates back to 1966 and today it brings around 500,000 attendees to the historic city of Lucca as one of the biggest festivals dedicated to fantasy culture in the world. To investigate festival-related tourism impacts, we focused on the LC&G audience and conducted a comprehensive survey with 7,147 visitors during the event in 2015. The results indicate the uniqueness of the festival with a very loyal, big amount of audience, and widespread impacts, including a drastic rise in the demand for tourism facilities with a high short-term direct economic impact. Nevertheless, tourism impacts that are an indispensable component of the festival and of crucial importance mainly for the development of the territory, occur intrinsically as a consequence of the festival's success to address its core communities' expectations, rather than being a primary aim.
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Keywords: COMIC-CON; CULTURAL ECONOMY; CULTURAL TOURISM; EVENT MANAGEMENT; FESTIVALS; IMPACT ASSESSMENT; LUCCA COMICS & GAMES

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 6, 2019

This article was made available online on March 21, 2019 as a Fast Track article with title: "INVESTIGATING TOURISM IMPACTS OF FESTIVALS: AN EXPLORATORY CASE STUDY OF A BIG SCALE COMIC-CON".

More about this publication?
  • Event Management, an International Journal, intends to meet the research and analytic needs of a rapidly growing profession focused on events. This field has developed in size and impact globally to become a major business with numerous dedicated facilities, and a large-scale generator of tourism. The field encompasses meetings, conventions, festivals, expositions, sport and other special events. Event management is also of considerable importance to government agencies and not-for-profit organizations in a pursuit of a variety of goals, including fund-raising, the fostering of causes, and community development.
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