Workshop Tourism & Visitor Economy


The online workshop held by Vanessa Borkmann, Head of Future Museum Research at Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering, on 12 January 2021 was dedicated to the topic of successful partnerships between museums and the tourism industry. The guiding questions throughout the workshop were:

– What goals do museums want to achieve through cooperation with the destination management and stakeholders of the tourism industry?

– Which actions and measures are promising?

– What are critical success factors?

– How to realise a successful collaboration?

Vanessa Borkmann addressed the different types of partnership existing between museums and tourism stakeholders and pointed out the basics of a strong partnership: shared goals, clear expectations, get to know each other, define a pathway (resources, responsibilities and time scheduling), a communication strategy, transparency and information sharing and the evaluation of efforts. A good example in this matter is the Swiss tourism cooperation project of the Association of Museums Graubünden in collaboration with the ZHAW Research Group Tourism and Sustainable Development.

The second half of the workshop was dedicated to two interactive sessions, in which the participants shared their opinions on the topic, their institution’s goals and the respective potential and positive effects. They also took the chance to formulate a future thesis for a possible partnership between their institution/organisation and a stakeholder from the tourism ecosystem. Lastly, the participants were asked to name relevant target groups that could be attracted through the cooperation with tourism stakeholders and explain why these groups are of particular interest. The British Museum and its collaboration with AliBaba was presented as an example of using live streams aiming at attracting the Chinese population.

The key take-aways of the workshop were that even though museums put a lot of effort on competing with other touristic sites to attract new touristic target groups, this might not be successful since going to a museum is not part of some tourists’ visiting scheme. It is important to know and understand what the target group is interested in and what the needs and wants of the visitors are. Thus, museums are still in need of applying a user-driven perspective.

Common touch points can be door openers for museums. Topics such as sustainability or the creation of a purpose for locals to come to the museum by offering extremely practical services can be door openers. Cross-referencing is a practical tool to promote offers among museums. However, the best link and common ground between the tourism sector and museums is always the content: the objects and the stories that can be told with them.