North east view of Oldway Mansion. Image: By Ianmacm at English Wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

North east view of Oldway Mansion. Image: By Ianmacm at English Wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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    The Redcliffe Hotel, Marine Drive, Paignton, Devon TQ3 2NL

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Enjoy holidaymaking

Researchers in tourism studies try to understand how people enjoy holidaymaking. 

Even the word 'holidaymaking' gives a clue that people are creating something and it is this practice of making that lies at the centre of an ethnographic approach. In the lab at the University we have been going further with this, and, as we discover which practices give enjoyment we have begun to experiment with ways of sharing these with new tourists. 

Journey, Place, Narrative.

The way of sharing and communicating is to produce a new type of travel writing. 

Good travel writing, we have found, is a catalyst that gives meaning to unknown spaces by populating them with characters and their stories. The challenges and the emotions experienced in these places, when skilfully retold, connect with the lives of readers who will go on to become visitors and holidaymakers themselves.


First, though, the researcher must accompany people as they pursue a tourist experience. In our workshop this is the guided walk. 

Walking is in itself a step towards wellbeing. As researchers we are looking for experiences of wellbeing, value, accomplishment, understanding, pleasure and fun and seeking ways of eliciting these from those taking part in the science of the guided walk. You can be holidaymaker and researcher at the same time. Wellbeing, we have found, has a strong creative component; as we walk and see new sights we imagine new ways of living that free us from the restrictions that prevent fulfilment.

Wish you were here

Back in the lab, or in this workshop, the hotel, we examine these experiences and emotions seeking out the worthwhile moments and deciding how to communicate these to the next potential visitors. 

In research terms this is the analysis and synthesis stage. In our lab work we discovered that presenting a lifeless museum piece of writing does not make you wish you were here. Instead it is a story, fact or fiction, that lends glamour to a holiday destination. Think of Poirot solving a mystery on the English Riviera, for example. 


From our research we now know that the text that addresses you as if you were here already works most powerfully on its readers. 

Consider these lines from a narrative, 'the voices of the mysterious couple carried quite clearly into this alcove in the hotel dining room.' Or this: 'The aroma of a freshly peeled orange invaded the breakfast room.' This we call skopos, the place in which you must be to grasp these lines. 

Participants joined us at this event to explore the network of knowledge in holidaymaking and to develop their own research writing skills via narrative and interview. 

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Programme: Thursday 8 November

14:00 - Welcome briefing. First training presentation on the research role of the travel writer and tour guide in the industry. Session on emotion and recording experiences as a tourist or visitor at leisure in a holiday resort

14:40-16:00 - Complete the designed Guided Walk and return to the hotel 

16:15-17:00 - Training session on ethnographic interviewing and group formation in threes or fours 

17:15-17:50 - Data collection interviews between participants, managed and animated by academic staff 

18:00 - Evening meal for those staying at the hotel

19:30-20:30 - One-to-one and small group discussion with academic staff on initial analysis of themes and sites of emergence from collected interviews notes and recordings. Exemplars of travel writing made available for overnight and early morning preparatory reading

21:00: Evening close

Programme: Friday 9 November

10:00-10:30 - Training session on writing-up synthesis from findings and notes

10:30-11:15 - First writing workout to transfer data from recordings, and interview notes, into an academic-type, documentation format.

11:15-11:30 - Animator-led discussion and reporting back of these documented findings  

11:30-11:45 - Briefing on travel writing as a cultural artefact

11:50-12:40 - Second writing workout: to write a synthesis in a narrative form for consumption by new visitors or tourists planning their destination. These were collected in a Guide Book for printing.

13:00-13:30 - Close


Biography: Dr Charlie Mansfield

Charlie is Programme Leader of the Masters in Travel Writing and his research focuses on city branding and cultural heritage tourism. 

Charlie has published on literary tourism and in 2018 was awarded an ERASMUS+ Mobility to develop Plymouth’s research and teaching with its French Riviera counterpart in Cannes. Thanks to this partnership students can spend a term studying with IUT Nice. In addition to being Programme Leader, Charlie teaches tourism management on the postgraduate and undergraduate degrees, plus French language and culture within the Faculty of Business at the University.

Charlie Mansfield, Programme Leader, Masters in Travel Writing

Biography: Dr Derek Shepherd

Derek is Academic Lead - Teaching and Quality within the Department of Tourism and Hospitality at the University of Plymouth.

Derek worked as a professional economist for the National Farmers’ Union, the Building Employers’ Confederation and the Confederation of British Industry in London before joining the academic world in 1987. He teaches crisis and disaster management in the tourism, hospitality and events industries, business strategy for tourism and hospitality and tourism venture creation. 

Derek is actively involved in teaching at the Czech University of Life Sciences, Prague for more than 20 years and an experienced PhD supervisor.

Dr Derek Shepherd,  Academic Lead - Teaching and Quality within the Department of Tourism and Hospitality

Biography: Dr Wai Mun Lim

Wai is Programme Leader for BA (Hons) Hospitality, Tourism and Events Management, and Lecturer in Hospitality, Tourism and Events Management.

Wai has been the programme leader for the BA (Hons) Hospitality, Tourism and Events Management course since its inception. She was a tour operator in Singapore for nearly a decade, before working her way through academia to her role of Associate Professor of Service Management today. 

She is an active researcher publishing in tourism and hospitality academic journals and keeps herself abreast by consulting for companies in the use of technology and currently pursuing her second doctorate with the aim of understanding what higher education students perceive as value and quality.

Dr Wai Mun Lim, 

Programme Leader for BA (Hons) Hospitality, Tourism and Events Management, and Lecturer in Hospitality, Tourism and Events Management

Biography: Zoe Roberts

Zoe was the first student to complete a masters in Travel Writing under the University of Plymouth's innovative two-year research masters programme. The ResM lets you continue in your job while gaining a masters qualification. 

Since gaining her ResM, Zoe has gone on to study for her doctorate full time with Plymouth. Her research examines how visitors' cultural capital affects their understanding of authenticity when enjoying literary tourism. She has focused her ethnographic interviews on guided tours around the Poldark series of novels set in Perranporth and further afield in Cornwall. 

Zoe Roberts, Doctoral Researcher

Biography: Jane Webb

Jane successfully gained her MSc in Tourism and Hospitality Management on Plymouth's one-year full-time route, then in 2018 decided to take her learning further by starting her PhD in guided walks and how historical heritage affects the emotions and enjoyment of holidaymakers. Jane's PhD is partly practice-led, which means that some of her work will be the creation of new guided walks, travel blogging and place-making through writing.

Digital content is at the heart of tourism and heritage communications today so her expertise in this field is of enormous importance to the travel industry. She is our first Tourism and Hospitality researcher to secure a UK government doctoral loan to fund her PhD.

Jane Webb, Doctoral Researcher

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