Thursday, August 17, 2017

Anime tourism – an interesting twist on film tourism

We all know now that films can have a powerful impact on the desire to travel to certain destinations – fans of Lord of the Rings and James Bond have been flocking to New Zealand and the UK respectively for many years to visit their favorite film locations. But can cartoons have a similar influence?

In a new journal article just accepted in Current Issues in Tourism, SmartState Chair Simon Hudson suggests they can. In the article - co-authored with Vince Tung and Suna Lee from Hong Kong Polytechnic University – the authors explore the world of animation tourism - motivated tourists who purposely visit a destination or partake in activities at a destination as a result of anime. Japanese animation, or anime, emerged in the 1910s and developed into its modern, distinctive form in the 1960s. It is comprised of two components: manga and animation. Manga, which means recurring drawings, are comic strips that employ an exquisite drawing style with descriptive formats and fluid strokes. Animation, similar to Western cartoons, is featured on television and videos with storylines and characters that are often based on manga.

A good example of anime resulting in tourism is Your Name (Makoto Shinkai’s teen body swap comedy). The beauty, and the film’s romanticism, have turned the Japanese locations featured in the anime into fan meccas, with tourists flocking to the real life locations – the steps to a shrine in downtown Tokyo, a public library in the rural town of Hida, mundane looking train tracks in the same quiet countryside – despite knowing it won’t be exactly as they’ve seen it on the big screen (see for more).

The new article proposes a novel framework for capturing animation tourism marketing opportunities and provides a conceptual foundation to ignite a new generation of future research interests that are much needed in this area. The authors argue that destination management organizations (DMOs) and tourism marketers in Japan can use anime to ignite their marketing campaigns, as unique opportunities are generated given the distinctive characteristics, timely releases of new, as well as the long-term continuation of existing franchises, in a variety of storylines. Additionally, businesses and services could be created through animation tourism that would encourage visitors throughout the year. 

The article on anime tourism is called The Potential of Anime for Destination Marketing: Fantasies, Otaku, and the Kidult Segment and will soon be online at:

Monday, April 17, 2017

New research suggests growth in wellness tourism is more a reflection of healthy habits than an antidote to a stressful lifestyle

                                Hilton Head Health Beach Boot Camp

SmartState Center team members Simon Hudson, Fang Meng and David Cardenas are pleased to announce an article fresh off the press in the International Journal of Culture, Tourism, and Hospitality Research. The paper, co-authored with former PhD student Karen Thal, examines the direct relationships between behavioral intention and factors driving the growth of the wellness tourism industry in the U.S. Research was conducted at Hilton Head Health, a popular wellness retreat and weight loss spa resort in South Carolina. Two models were estimated and tested using the theory of planned behavior (TPB), each incorporating two constructs – life stress and involvement in health - in addition to theoretically stipulated antecedents to behavioral intention. Both constructs were found to be significant predictors of behavioral intention. However, involvement proved a much stronger predictor than life stress. This would suggest that growth in the wellness tourism market is associated with health and wellness practices that are central rather than peripheral to potential wellness tourists’ ways of life. Just as environmental values are associated with greener travel behaviors, so too wellness tourism appears to be an extension of ingrained values and attitudes - rather than an escape from unhealthy or stress-filled lifestyles. The full article can be found at:

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Chinese are coming: Are you ready?

I was privileged to be on a panel this morning at the Mountain Travel Symposium in Banff, Canada. Moderated by Olympian Kelly VanderBeek, the session was titled ‘Crossing Borders’ and focused on the international skier market. I was joined on the panel by Kristi Kavanaugh from the Aspen Skiing Company and Sammy Salm, CEO of Best of the Alps. Of course, the international market is more important for some countries than others. For example, Andorra (92% of total skier visits), Austria (66%), Switzerland (50%), New Zealand (36%) and Czech Republic (35%), are all heavily dependent on overseas skiers, whereas in the US, international skiers only account for about 6% of visits. However, this doesn’t mean they are not a significant market to go after. If we look at international tourism visits overall, the 75 million visitors America receives each year spend over $250 billion. In fact, each overseas traveler spends approximately $4,400 when they visit the US and stays an average of 18 nights. The fastest-growing international market – the Chinese – are particularly big spenders, dropping about $1,000 a day when they visit the US. The Chinese are only just getting into winter sports, but with today’s 5 million participants expected to grow to an incredible 300 million by 2022 (the year they host the Winter Olympics), they are a market that cannot be ignored. Other important international markets for North American resorts are the Australians, the British, and Germans, all of whom send about a million skiers around the globe every year.  The South American market is also growing, with the Colorado resorts seeing more Mexicans and Brazilians each year. For more on this subject (and anything you ever wanted to know about this dynamic industry) check out my book – Winter Sport Tourism.