The Magic of Tourism: A Look into the Spatiality of Harry Potter Tourism in Edinburgh

Authors: Hannah Webb*, Texas Tech University
Topics: Tourism Geography
Keywords: tourism, media tourism, media pilgrimage, literary geography, Harry Potter
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: 8229, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling has profoundly touched the lives of many readers. The books and later the movies became a global cultural phenomenon of unimagined proportions. Set in the United Kingdom, many of the places in the books and many of the scenes in the movies are based on locations in Edinburgh, Scotland, the city where Rowling wrote most of the Harry Potter series. These locations in Edinburgh have become places of Harry Potter tourism. The aim of this research is to show the ways in which the Harry Potter series has reshaped and reimagined the meanings of place at selected locations in the city of Edinburgh.
During the summer of 2018 I conducted fieldwork in Edinburgh with The Potter Trail walking tours, a tour company that specializes in connecting the fictional places of the books and movies to their real-world counterparts in the city. Over a three day period I was a participant observer of eight tours that included approximately 300 tourists. During this time period I interviewed 30 tourists. The preliminary analysis of my data suggests that visitors take these journeys in order to encounter points of connection, facilitated by the tour guides, which challenge the line between fiction and non-fiction. In this way, they are able to experience the magic of Harry Potter for themselves.

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