Literary Tourism and Yeats' Legacy - What can we learn from Shakespeare's birthplace?
This year 2015 celebrates the birth of the distinguished poet and Nobel Laureate William Butler Yeats. For visitors interested in Yeats and his contemporaries as well as modern day writers and poets, literary tourism offers an opportunity to capitalise on Ireland’s literary production, stretching beyond cultural stereotypes to tell an authentic story of Ireland’s cultural identity on a world stage. The literary tourism sector has evolved from people’s interest in literature, places that inspired the writing, formed the setting of the literary work or those linked to the writer’s birthplace, home or death. This study seeks to explore the concept of the literary place and the literary tourist incorporating themes of authenticity and commodification within the context of literary tourism. It explains how a place’s connections to an author or literary locations are increasingly being used to promote tourist destinations. The research will consider best practice and challenges as identified through a series of eleven qualitative interviews with key managers of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and the Royal Shakespeare Company based in Stratford-upon-Avon, an international literary tourism destination visited by up to 5 million tourists each year. The primary research explores the strategies used to preserve and promote the ‘lives, loves and legacy’ of Shakespeare. To conclude, the study recommends showcasing Ireland’s literary tourism offerings in a collaborative and sustainable way and it reflects on how insights from the Stratford experience could influence key stakeholders focused on preserving Yeats’ legacy whilst making it accessible to a wider audience.
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