Workshop 3: Creative journeys through visual tourism research

Visual images, like all representations, “are never innocent or neutral reflections of reality…they re-present for us: that is, they offer not a mirror of the world but an interpretation of it.” (Midalia, 1999: 28)

This quotation from Midalia provides the backdrop for the interactive and inspired discussions that we hope to stimulate in this workshop. Specifically, the question of how we (re)present and (re)interpret tourism spaces, places, peoples and objects through the visual is one which is of increasing interest for tourism researchers. We believe that the incorporation of visual techniques within tourism research projects can contribute to richer and deeper (re)presentations and (re)interpretations of tourism and the social world and can also result in the production of creative research outputs (e.g. exhibitions, documentaries, short videos etc.) which alongside academic publications, can be very effective in reaching wider audiences.

Despite the growing popularity of these methods within tourism research  as demonstrated in numerous examples of interesting and insightful tourism studies (e.g. see contributions in Rakić and Chambers, 2012;  Rydzik et al, 2013 inter alia), the relative lack of a wider range of methodological and visual ethics related publications in tourism (compared to  publications available within the wider social sciences and humanities), can arguably act as a deterrent for those tourism researchers who desire to incorporate visual methods in some of their research projects. With a view to overcoming this potential barrier, as well as promoting visual methods as a creative approach to research among critical tourism scholars, this workshop will commence with a brief overview of existing publications and visual methods including the collection of visual materials from secondary sources for the purpose of analysis, creating visuals by researchers or their research participants (such as drawings, collage, photographs and videos), as well as producing creative research outputs designed to reach wider audiences. Following this brief presentation, workshop co-participants will have the opportunity to share their thoughts about, or experiences with, visual  research methods and methodologies as well as discuss and develop ideas for future visual research projects. We envisage this workshop as a creative journey through visual research in tourism, a creative journey which will continue during and beyond this critical tourism conference.



Midalia, S. (1999). Textualising Gender, Interpretations, 32, 27-32.

Rakić, T., & Chambers, D. (Eds.). (2012). An Introduction to Visual Research Methods in Tourism. London: Routledge.

Rydzik, A., Pritchard, A., Morgan, N., & Sedgley, D. (2013). The Potential of Arts-Based Transformative Research, Annals of Tourism Research, 40, 283-305.


Tijana Rakić has been inspired to engage with visual methods by her husband, Yorgos Karagiannakis, who is a filmmaker and an academic, and with whom she has worked on a number of tourism and non-tourism related documentaries. These include Of Holidays and Olives (2006, dirs. Karagiannakis and Rakić) a documentary about tourism impacts on the island of Crete, Visiting the Athenian Acropolis (2008, dir. Rakić) which focuses on visitor experiences at the Acropolis in Athens, and Silent Waters (2009, dir. Karagiannakis) about the lives and life histories of the people living on the Greek side of the Prespa Lakes. Although she has used a wide range of visual methods in her projects, she continues to be intrigued by the power of creative research outputs such as documentaries in reaching wider audiences and the fact that some of the visual approaches to research allow researchers and/or their research participants to express themselves creatively and in doing so enable them to express aspects of their experiences or emotions which would otherwise remain unsaid. These aspects of visual methods are a source of inspiration for many of her projects. Her PhD thesis which focused on the relationships between world heritage, national identity and tourism at the Acropolis in Athens, for example, was accompanied by a documentary about the visitors to the site. Tijana has also worked on a number of collaborative projects with Donna Chambers, including their recent co-edited book on visual research methods in tourism (Routledge, 2012). 
Donna Chambers, very early in her career produced public service programmes for television.  This was the beginning of her interest in the use of visuals as a communicative medium. Subsequently, while working within the tourism public sector, she became interested in the way in which tourism (re) presented and (re)created identities.  In her PhD thesis she undertook a discursive analysis of the relationship between heritage and national identity in England.  Using tourism promotional material she explored how English heritage was (re)presented and what this ‘said’ about English national identity. In her subsequent academic career she has maintained an interest in issues related to identity and representation particularly within heritage and culture and also in critical approaches to tourism research.  Since 2006 she has been preoccupied with the use of visual methods and their potential to enliven and enrich teaching and research and it is in this regard that she has undertaken a number of collaborative projects with Tijana Rakić including their recent edited publication on visual research methods in tourism (Routledge, 2012). 



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