Royal Grammar School

Newcastle

Undercover Geographical Tourists

Undercover Geographical Tourists

Anyone visiting Northumberland National Park’s visitor centre at Once Brewed or Hadrian’s Wall at Walltown Crags in June might have thought they saw some happy school kids and their teachers on an end of term outing. Far from it. Happy, certainly, but there was some serious Geography going on here, as Year 9 students investigated the socioeconomic and environmental aspects of tourism. 

After a fascinating briefing by Duncan Wise, Visitor Development and Marketing Manager of Northumberland National Park, the students moved onto field operations to carry out research. They infiltrated visitor groups in the Visitor Centre before being bussed out to Walltown Crags to mingle with local, national and international tourists on the Wall. Every ruddy-faced hiker or ambling couple who passed with a cheery smile and ‘hello’, was being discreetly profiled: age, gender, ethnicity and activity in which they were engaged. Vehicle numbers and types in three car parks were analysed. Evidence of environmental management was noted and potential conflict between the twin aims of ‘enhancing natural beauty’ and ‘promoting its enjoyment by the public’ was recorded. Scorching sunshine provided suitable cover for ‘Operation Tourism’, along with the illusion that a Northumberland posting was really a cushy number for those Roman soldiers. 

With sincere thanks to Duncan Wise and the Northumberland National Park Authority.