EXAMINING URBAN TOURISM IN CAMBRIDGE

Introduction

Urbanization has become a major force for developing towns and cities. Many of them have become major tourists destinations, which was recognized by researches in 80-s (Murgoci et al. 2009). Nowadays urban areas concentrate on social, cultural, and business activities, which are also engaged in entertainment, leisure and tourism industries. Thus, urban tourism is an expanding industry, which has become an essential part of the contemporary life for many people. Urban tourism provides multiple economic and social benefits to a city. For instance, firms engaged in this industry become able to generate income, pay taxes, provide employment, and also improve urban physical environment. Modern urban tourism occupies substantial share of cities, which includes museums, theme parks, entertainment places, and urban cores. People travel to cities for the various reasons, such as shopping, education, visiting friends and relatives, business meetings and conferences, mega events (such as Olympic games and beauty contests).

However, despite of the great importance of the city tourism to the economy development, it receives a disproportionately small amount of attention from scholars. Much of the studies related to the urban tourism are descriptive in their nature, and focus only on cases description instead of formulating the appropriate strategies for increasing the efficiency of the tourism activities for the cities. Thus, based on this, the necessity to develop the appropriate strategy for urban tourism development has risen.

Cambridge was chosen as the touristic destination for this research paper. According to the tourist city classification, Cambridge is a tourist historic city as it has pre-industrial heritage and is famous for its educational institutions. Cambridge is one of the major UK tourism centres, since it attracts around 5.3 million tourists every year, who bring around 583 million in Cambridge’s economy (Coop & Lindsay 2016). However, only 14% of visitors stay for the night in Cambridge, which results in lower received income, than the potential one (Coop & Lindsay 2016). Thus, it is necessary to study factors that attract visitors to Cambridge and develop a strategy for making urban tourism more profitable and sustainable for Cambridge.

This paper examines the current scholar views on urban tourism and provides the analysis of the features of the urban tourists who visit Cambridge. First of all, in order to understand the concept and nature of the urban tourism, a critical literature review was provided. Secondly, on its base the quantitative research was developed, which allowed to meet the aim of the paper. At the result, the strategy for developing tourism in Cambridge was developed, which contains recommendations about the improvement of the attractiveness of the Cambridge to urban tourists.

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Literature Review

Theoretical Concepts Regarding Urban Tourism

Lapko (2014) argues that the urban tourism differs from other forms of tourism by the fact, that the key tourists’ attractiveness is the urban space. In this case the term “urban” can be defined as a place characteristic, which includes the following elements: population density, social and economic organization, and environment that was significantly transformed by human. However, it does not refer to agricultural activities (Ülke 2013).

There is no widely recognized definition of the urban tourism. However, on the base of the modern literature review it can be defined as one of the forms of tourism related with the international metropolises, which attract tourists by their cultural atmosphere, natural landscape, and services (Estelaji et al. 2012; and Hong 2014). Popescu and Corbos (2010) emphasise that urban tourism refers to the temporary movement of people through city or cities, which are not their regular residences.

According to Lapko (2014), urban tourism takes various forms, related with the various purposes of visiting the city. The first type of the urban tourism is the historic and heritage tourism, which refers to visiting city’s heritages, i.e. museums, art galleries, historical sites (Popescu and Corbos 2010). The second type is the culture and entertainment tourism, which includes visiting such entertainment facilities: casinos and lotteries, theatres, and cinemas (Popescu and Corbos 2010), or organized events, such as festivals, carnivals, parades, religious rides (Getz & Page 2016). Business tourism relates to visiting business centres, attending business meetings, conferences, fairs and exhibitions (Hayllar 2008). Researches also define the sport tourism as a separate type of urban tourism, and refer to it sports events, such as Olympic Games or football marches (Yildiz & Akbulut 2013). Further, the shopping tourism should also be separated as a separate urban tourism type (Getz & Page 2016). Finally, the purpose for attending education courses or visiting family and friends could also be referred to a separate tourism type.

Murgoci et al. (2009) states that urban tourism has been developed due to complex factors influence. First of all, an increased leisure time caused the increase in the number of leave days. Indeed, due to the development of services for household activities people have got more time for their leisure and study. The next factor that determines the popularity of urban tourism is transport development, which has caused the increase in population mobility and travel services, related to tourism. For example, low-cost flights and high-speed trains have forced short visits in the urban areas. Further, several socio-demographic changes related to the increased age for establishing a family have also allowed youth to travel more, and especially in urban areas, where various entertainment activities are available. The increased interest in city architecture, its cultural heritage, and cultural events that take place in big urban areas also caused the rapid growth of short visits to the major tourism cities. Moreover, the improved image of city, which turned from overpopulated and polluted to the place with cultural and entertainment opportunities, has also increased the popularity of urban tourism. Nowadays, people travel to big cities in order to visit theatres, concerts, art galleries, take part in the sports events or festivals, etc (Ashworth 2011). The necessary factor for increasing the number of urban tourists’ visits is the increased demand for business trips. Thus, individual business trips, business fairs and exhibitions, conferences or conventions also contribute to the urban tourism development. Finally, tourists who travel for their personal interest visits, i.e. visiting friends and relatives or trips for personal education are also an important segment of urban tourism.

Characteristics of Urban Tourism Destinations

Badita (2013) clearly defines the key characteristics of the urban tourism destinations. First of all, it should have well capitalized certain streets of the city. Secondly, the urban tourism destination should have a historic centre, where tangible and intangible heritage is presented, and various cultural activities and festivals take place (Barrado 2011). The urban tourism destinations also face the influence of tourism on their centrality, where most of the restaurants, hotels, entertainment places are located in order to attract more urban tourists (Badita 2013).

Current State of Urban Tourism in the UK

The UK economy seems to be on the improvement state, since the country’s real GDP has been constantly increasing, and tourism seems to be an important factor of the UK economy development. For instance, according to the UK Tourism Alliance (2015) the total value of tourism in the UK economy was £126.9 billion in 2013, which was about 9.0% of the country’s GDP. Indeed, airlines and hotels have constantly shown the increase in their sales values during the last three years.

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The most popular purpose for overnight travelling to large cities/town trips among the UK tourists are trips for visiting friends and relatives, with the volume of 42% of all trips, which is more than for the total country’s value by 3 p.p. (Visit England 2014). In the second place by their volume are 1-3 night holidays with 25% share, and in the third place are businesses trips, which account for 23% in urban areas and 15% for all destination types (Visit England 2014). On the other hand, among the day trips to urban areas the trips for visiting friends or family have 20% of total value, while going out for entertainment, for a meal, or a night out have 10% each one types (Visit England 2014). The current trend shows that the number of tourists, who have spent their domestic holidays in urban areas, continues to increase from 11 million in 2008 to 12.49 million in 2014 (Visit England 2014). Thus, that growth rate exceeded the growth rate of the total number of travellers in England by 2 p.p. and was 3% per year (Visit England 2014). The average spend per night in tourists’ trips to urban areas significantly exceeds the average spend per night in England in total – £106 versus £73 (Visit England 2014). On the other hand, the average spend per trip is higher for total England, than in urban areas – £247 versus £243 (Visit England 2014).

Cambridge as a Place for Urban Tourism

Cambridge is recognized by the tourists as one of the most attractive places for urban tourism due to its cultural, historical, and entertainment attractions. Each tourist can find the appropriate activity for spending time in this city. First of all, the main attractions of the Cambridge are universities and colleges, which have not only the long history, but also the amazing architecture (Cambridge news 2015). Further, the next attraction for tourists is the Fitzwilliam Museum located in Cambridge. Due to its active programme with various exhibitions, events, and education activities and the image of the international institute of learning, research, and conservation, the Museum receives about 470 thousand visitors per year (University of Cambridge 2016). Anglesey Abbey located in Cambridge is also richly decorated showcase for the eccentric collection of fine art belonged to the Lord Fairhaven. The Bridge of Sighs and St. Johns College are also in the list of most popular Cambridge tourists’ sights.

Methodology

Aims, Objectives and Research Questions

The purpose of the project is investigating the major Cambridge attractions visited by tourists, their main motivations to visit the city in contrast to their stay length and expenditure. The analysis of the collected data will allow developing tourism strategy for Cambridge, which will help to increase overnight stays and total spending. The objectives of the research are the following. First of all, it is necessary to explore the main motivations and attractions for the visitors. Secondly, the research should help to find out the planned overnight stays of the Cambridge tourists in comparison to their chosen itinerary. Finally, it is necessary to develop a strategy that will help to increase overall tourist overnight stay. The research question is the current state of the Cambridge visitors and their motivation to visit the city.

Research Design

To achieve the purpose of the study the quantitative research approach was chosen. It allowed focusing on people’s behaviour and examining data, which can be adequately expressed numerically. Quantitative approach was used in order to develop explanations of social phenomena, related to the urban tourism in Cambridge (Yorkshire & Humber 2009). Further, in order to describe the current state of the urban tourism in Cambridge the descriptive research design was chosen. This type of research allowed obtaining information concerning the current status of the urban tourism in Cambridge and describing the existing situation with respect to conditions in a situation (Williams 2007).

Research Methods

In order to accurately and systematically collect and analyse the appropriate data the questionnaire was chosen as the research method. A questionnaire is a data collection instrument, which is based on using series of questions (Harris & Brown 2010). These questions were used during the interviewing the respondents. Thus, the combined questionnaire-interview instrument was applied. All questions were closed-ended, which allowed simplifying the data analysis process. For some questions, where the responded was asked to rate the proposed variable, the Likert scale was used. Other questions have only two possible answers – yes or no, and also the gender of the respondents is considered. Since the research was provided in a single time period, it belongs to the cross-sectional type.

Analysis Methods

In order to provide the quantitative analysis the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) software was used for entering data and analysing it. Further, the statistical characteristics, such as mean, median, mode, range, and standard deviation, were calculated (Peersman 2014). In order to present the data effectively, the descriptive tools, such as graphs and diagrams, were developed.

Limitations

The key limitation of the research is that the characteristics were compared in one time period, which does not allow to find whether the founded research results characterize the urban tourism for all times or have appeared at the chosen time period. Further, questionnaire tool allowed covering only a proportion of the sample frame, which may impact the results of the study. Finally, there were cost and time limitations, related to the small number of researches comparing with the large sample frame.

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Results and Discussion

Research Results

Among the interviewed respondents 58% were international tourists, while 42% were English. Regarding the respondents’ age the biggest share has had respondents aging from 30 to 49 years. Tourists groups at the age from 18 to 29 years and 50-64 years have had similar shares – 26% and 24% respectively.

First of all, the reasons for visiting Cambridge were examined. As the figure 2 shows, the most popular reason for travelling to Cambridge is to look at its history and culture. According to the figure, 51% of all respondents have chosen this answer. In the second place by its popularity among the respondents are educational visits, since, 32% of all respondents have come to Cambridge in order visit Cambridge universities or colleges. Architecture viewing is in the third place with 17%.

Further respondents were asked to choose the places in Cambridge they were going to visit (or had already visited) during their travel trip. According to the provided answers, most of the respondents (45%) had come to Cambridge in order to take part in various activities, such as festivals, sports events, etc. 39% of respondents reported that they were going to visit the St. Johns College and/or the Bridge of Sighs, which was a covered bridge at St John’s College. Fewer respondents (38%) declared that they had come to Cambridge in order to take part in the punting tour. About a third of all respondents were going to visit the Fitzwilliam Museum (31%) and Anglesey Abbey (26%). The least popular purposed for visiting Cambridge were wine tours and Cambridge Cemetery visiting with 17% and 11% of respondent respectively.

Most of the urban tourists (31%) decided to spend more time on a major Cambridge attraction, chosen by them. Fewer respondents (26%) decided not to follow the most popular route and chose non-traditional tracks. Similar number of respondents (25%) was exploring new places. Finally, the least number of respondents (18%) spent less time visiting major attraction.

The most popular type of transport types for Cambridge tourists are train and car, valued for 37% and 32% respectively. Less popular transport type is travelling by bus (22%). Finally, the least number of respondents (only 9%) has used air travel in order to arrive to Cambridge.

The analysis of stay length shows that most of the tourists came to Cambridge only for one day (50%). On the other hand, in the second place by the number of respondents was trip duration of more than two nights (28%). Finally, the least number of respondents decided to stay in Cambridge for one or two nights – 11% each.

The analysis of the overall tourists satisfaction proves, that most of them were satisfied (39%) or very satisfied (29%) with their trip to Cambridge. A mean of satisfaction level is 3.79 with standard deviation of 1.11, which means, that there is an average distribution among the satisfaction of tourists. Only 12% of respondents were unsatisfied or very unsatisfied with their trip to Cambridge.

In order to examine factors, that affect tourists’ satisfaction, the following variables were chosen: infrastructure quality evaluation, entrance fee, and after-trip experience. Thus, most of the customers have evaluated Cambridge infrastructure as good or excellent. In total, the share of satisfied with the Cambridge infrastructure customers is 98%

Figure 8. The level of Cambridge infrastructure evaluation by its tourists (made by the author on the base of the collected data).
The analysis of the entrance fee evaluation shows, that most of the customers think that the entrance fee to Cambridge is moderate. Only 6% of customers estimated it as a very expensive, while 8% evaluated it as a very cheap. Further, most of the customers have had a positive experience while visiting Cambridge. Thus, almost 67% of all respondents have agreed that they have good or excellent experience due to trip to Cambridge.

Results Discussion

The data analysis shows, that most of the Cambridge tourists are satisfied with their trip. Most of the respondents were satisfied with the Cambridge infrastructure, entrance fees and the experience they had got during their trip. The major attractions chosen by the respondents were activities trips (i.e. various festivals, sports events), visiting St. John and punting. However, the average length of staying in the city remains low, since the majority of tourists prefer the one day trip. It is evident that tourists who stay overnight are likely to spend more money for lodging, food and beverage, shopping, etc (Alexander et al. 2011). Thereby, in this case it is necessary to develop new strategy, which will focus not only on attracting more tourists, but also on enhancing them to stay longer in the city.

Tourists’ Attraction Strategy

It is evident that in order to attract more visitors and motivate them to stay overnight in the city, it is necessary to provide them clear and significant reasons for this. Thus, the first element of this tourism strategy is implementing various festivals and cultural events (Alexander et al. 2011). Cultural events may be related to the national holidays, music festivals, fairs, guided tours, design and fashion weeks, city walks, local meetings, lecture courses in art, education, and concerts (Yildiz & Akbulut 2013). Further, there is an opportunity to organize various sports events in the city, such as various competitions and cups, historical tournaments, or local races (Yildiz & Akbulut 2013). It is also necessary to focus more on the range of distance and the festival destination while promoting local city festivals to potential visitors. It will not only allow decreasing the promotional costs, but will also increase the number of visitors, who decided to attend the festival. With regard to the increment of the overnight stay percentage it is possible to increase the length of city festivals for two or more days.

Further, the knowledge of various motives of the Cambridge tourists should be used for developing the tourists’ segmentation. As the research results show, tourists choose Cambridge as a holiday destination for a variety of reasons related to their interests. Thus, it is necessary to develop the experience products, which will be adapted to a certain tourist segments’ demands and meet their expectations (Visit Greenland 2016). In this case it is necessary to focus on certain specific sections of the tourist market, which will allow the city to differentiate it from the competitors (Marinov 2006). Thus, the number of tourists depends on improvements in city’s infrastructure (i.e., transport, natural and manmade attractions, accommodation and awareness are required). Moreover, an innovative approach to the city design will help to transform declining districts into new prestigious business areas (Yildiz & Akbulut 2013). Indeed, it is necessary to develop partnerships between local businesses in order to ensure better product development and investment (IslandStofa 2013). Such partnerships should be focused on implementing urban renewal projects, such as opening new museums, re-use of historic buildings, developing prestigious landscapes (Yildiz & Akbulut 2013).

An appropriate promotion strategy is also necessary for improving the city image and attracting more tourists to it. In this case the city should focus on developing multi-channel promotional campaigns, which will drive key messages to identified target audiences (MarketingManchester 2014). The key messages that should be promoted are the following: “there are a lot of entertainment places for diverse types of tourists”; “Cambridge is a leading city by the tourists’ services”; and “urban tourists are able to receive a unique experience after visiting the city”. Thereby, the city administration should continue implementing an international focus that increases current city visitation and length of stay. This will help to drive the tourism demand and provide the right message to the customers. Finally, the city should focus on producing additional value to its tourists, which will allow them to choose between various urban tourism destinations (Vienna 2014). For instance, developing the competitive advantages of food and wine tours and accessible urban experiences will allow the city to provide well established touristic products to its visitors.

Conclusion

The paper examined the current state of the urban tourism in Cambridge. On the base of the provided research it was found, that most of the Cambridge visitors have positive emotions related to their trip. The analysis of the level of overall satisfaction after the city visiting and its infrastructure were rated as good and excellent by the most of the research respondents. Indeed, the most attractive motivators of visiting the city were also examined. In accordance with the analysis, the biggest share of city visitors came here in order to take part in the cultural or sports events. Further, many travellers tend to visit Cambridge universities, colleges, and other historical buildings in order to discover city’s culture and historical heritage and/or for the study purposes. The most popular transport types used for visiting Cambridge are cars and trains, while travelling by bus and airlines have fewer admirers. A high concern to the city is the fact that most of the city travellers tend to come here only for one day without staying for a night or more. This creates unused economic growth opportunities, since the longer the customer stays in the city, the more money he/she spends there.
Thus, on the base of the critical literature review and the research results the appropriate strategy for developing an urban tourism in Cambridge was formulated. According to this strategy the city administration should focus on several factors. The first factor is enhancing organization of more cultural and sports events, such as music festivals, fashion weeks, concerts, local races, or historical tournaments. It is assumed, that interesting events will attract more visitors to the city. The second factor of the tourism strategy for Cambridge is a focus on tourists’ segmentation. The further researches could be implemented in order to investigate the types of tourists that visit Cambridge. The appropriate segmentation will allow developing excellent experience products for urban tourists and differentiate the city from its competitors.

Further, it is necessary to develop partnerships with local businesses for the purpose of enhancing the innovative approach to the city exterior. Modern image of the city will attract more visitors, i.e. for business purposes. Moreover, the city should pay attention on improving its image among the visitors. For this purpose Cambridge marketing strategy should be dedicated to describing the city as the best place for entertainment and receiving the unique leisure experience. Consequently, improved conditions for hotel development and prolonged cultural and sports events should help the city not only to improve its business development conditions, but also enhance tourists to stay longer in the city.


Appendix

Project Proposal

Aims and Objectives:

To investigate the major attractions visited by tourists, their main motivations to visit the city in contrast to their stay length and expenditure in order to find and synthesize any loopholes and strategies to increase overnight stays and total spending.

Objectives:

Investigating the main motivations and attractions visited by tourists.
Finding out their planned overnight stays in comparison to their chosen itinerary.
Measure and tap any loopholes to develop a strategy in order to increase overall tourist expenditure.

Rationale:

Cambridge welcomes around 5.3 million tourists annually which then bring around 583 million in Cambridge’s economy accounting for around 17% of the total employment. The figures show that tourism is playing a highly important role in Cambridge’s economy and its economic stability. However the source continues to say that almost 86% of these visitors are daytrippers thus spending less than one night in the city. Even though these tourists bring money to city when the factors like congestion, community’s perception and rising housing and rental prices are concerned, the city calls for an immediate need to answer the problem and develop a strategy to make tourism more sustainable and profitable.

Questionnaire

Good morning/ good afternoon we are students from University of Sunderland conducting a survey to determine tourists’ itinerary and motivations for research purposes. A few minutes from your time to fill up this survey would be highly helpful in our study project. Thank you for your participation.

What are you visiting Cambridge for today?

A. Architecture B. History and Culture C. Educational visit

How important was the attraction in your visit of the city?

A. Very Unimportant B. Not important C. Indifferent D. Important E. Very Important
Were you satisfied with today’s visit?
A. Very unsatisfied B. Not satisfied C. It was okay D. Satisfied E. Very Satisfied
What do you think about the entrance fee?
A. Very Cheap B. Cheap C. Reasonable D. Expensive E. Very expensive

Mark the destinations or activities that you have visited/ done or are going to visit/do in Cambridge:

A. Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial
B. Fitzwilliam Museum
C. Anglesey Abbey
D. Punting
E. Bridge of Sighs
F. St. John’s College
G. A wine tour

Have you been to or done any of the following destinations or activities respectively?

Nightlife
Theatres and cinemas
Spas
Food Tours
Sport activities like horse riding or Golf
YES (proceed to next question)
NO (go to question no:8)

How would you rate your experience on a scale of 1 to 5 ( 1= Bad, 5= Excellent)

1)
2)
3)
4)
5)

Why have you decided not to visit or do above mentioned destinations or activities respectively?

A. There is nothing unique
B. You don’t have time
C. You are not interested
D. This is not what Cambridge is famous for
E. You didn’t know about them
If a cumulative ticket or package was sold for the question ‘6’ activities in conjunction to the main attractions, would you buy?
A. YES B. NO

Mark the statement which matches your trip goals for Cambridge the best.

A. Check out all the major attractions in minimum time possible.
B. Visit the major attractions however spend more time and fully experience them.
C. Find out the off beaten tracks, local specialties and culture of the city.
D. Just start the tour and wherever the city takes me.

How would you rate the overall infrastructure, facilities and experience in Cambridge City (1= Bad, 5=Excellent)

1)
2)
3)
4)
5)

Which transport mode did you choose to come to Cambridge?

A. Bus B. Train C. Car D. Air travel E. other, specify _________________
How long do you plan to stay in Cambridge?
A. More than 2 nights B. 2 nights C. 1 night D. Just for the day
Are you a/ an _____________ visitor?
A. National B. International
Which age group you fall into?
A. 18-29 B. 30-49 C. 50-64 D. 65 and over
Your gender
A. Male B. Female

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