In November 2019, European Cemeteries Route manager Dušan Vrban gave lecture to the students of tourism at the Bydgoszcz University. Topic: new tourism product development.
Tourism product development
In recent 20 years the tourism industry was pushed by an incredible share of information over internet channels, leading to major touristic points being swallowed by the masses. Reducing the experience to unthinkable. Experts are desperately seeking solutions to the overcrowded cities and historical treasures.
One of major directions is finding and using the niche offers that diverse the masses and provide new kind of experiences.
Finding these experiences and change them into attractive offers for tourists remains a challenge rarely solved by methodology, mostly by luck or coincidence.
The most important fundamental part of the tourism product development remains a story. It does more than attracts tourists, but rather becomes integrated part of the whole experience. Restaurants themes, live events, guided tours, museums shops or any other offers are using stories throughout their facilities, souvenirs and services offered.
And this is where cemeteries are really rich, providing an endless stream of stories. These relate not only to local or regional culture, but rather connect a much wider, European and world cultures.
Cooperation was established in autumn 2019 as part of the Erasmus program where the university was looking for experts and professors providing knowledge on tourism. European Cemeteries Route manager Dušan Vrban offered to teach students about new tourism product development based on the cemeteries tourism.
Class was performed in November 2019 for a group of international students.
2 important topics for the students
Before thinking about cemeteries as the ground of developing tourism products, the class had to first realize the cemeteries as cultural heritage spaces. Because as expected, most still recognize them as a space of death and mourning.
Thus first part of the lecture was in presenting and helping students understand the cultural heritage of the cemeteries and how cemeteries tourism is emerging.
In the second part, cemeteries were presented as vast spaces of stories. No matter the size or the history of the cemetery, there is always a huge pool of stories available. Even the most unknown people may be an interesting theme for a new tourism product.
During the class students developed stories from their community or country and learned how to craft and present them, possibly reuse them in a form of a tourism product.
As part of the workshop a tour was organized at the local cemetery of Bydgoszcz by a local guide. Students gathered many ideas and aspects of the city that they did not realize before.
One of the students even decided and later performed a diploma thesis on the dark tourism.