Philip Long and Andy Adams of the School of Tourism are collaborating with Ann Hemingway and Will Haydock of the School of Health and Social Care in a Fusion CCP project that aims to explore issues associated with alcohol consumption, public health and tourism. The project will examine the views of producers and distributors of alcohol products in Bournemouth, Dorset and the New Forest on visitor markets and their regulation. The research team will also explore public health, tourism, planning and local political perspectives on the relationships between policy and practice concerning alcohol and tourism (the visitor and ‘night-time’ economy) in the region.
This project will address research, policy and media discourses on public health concerns about excessive consumption of alcohol among visitors to coastal resorts such as Bournemouth. Although much of this focuses on public order issues relating to young drinkers, captured in the phrase ‘binge’ drinking, there is increasing anxiety surrounding older drinkers. Nationally, 2012 saw the publication of The Government’s Alcohol Strategy, which noted the importance of ‘chronic diseases’ related to alcohol amongst those aged 25 and over, and promised a review of consumption guidelines that would include specific work on those aged over 65.
Alongside this there is a research, policy and media focus on more positive connotations of alcohol, such as real ale, rural and urban ‘gastro pubs’, micro-breweries and festivals that are packaged and promoted as tourist attractions in areas such as the New Forest and Dorset. The importance of the real ale industry in the revitalisation of tradition and social, cultural and regional identities is increasingly acknowledged. In addition, given that social capital is understood to affect people’s long-term health, it may be that the social networks involved in real ale appreciation and tourism actually help to foster psychological health and wellbeing.
The key objective of the project is to establish how researchers, practitioners, policy-makers and the wider community can contribute to reconciling these apparently conflicting perspectives.
The research team is developing a mixed-method approach focusing on the consumption, production and distribution and, regulation dimensions of the relationships between alcohol, public health and tourism. We are now working to identify and secure participants in the research and would welcome comments and suggestions from colleagues across the University.