Music Should Find a Voice in Tourism

Music Should Find  a Voice in TourismMusic Should Find  a Voice in Tourism

Most major tourism institutions around the world say music not only plays a significant role in enhancing tourism, but even helps to revive the tourism industry in many countries. Live music in open spaces, cafes, restaurants, and more importantly concert halls and historical sites draws countless domestic and international visitors to enjoy their holidays and at the same time contribute to the economy of the host country.

A recent study by VisitBritian, a nondepartmental public body, funded by the UK department for culture, media and sport, called “Wish You Were Here” shows that music tourism not only generates a big cash injection to local economies but also creates and supports over 24,000 jobs.

The “Wish You Were Here” report says 6.5 million tourists who love music, carnivals and concerts spent more than 2.2 billion British pounds in the United Kingdom in 2012.

The spending by people from the UK and abroad was worth £1.3 billion last year. This includes buying tickets, and paying for transport and accommodation, along with other spending, which adds another £914 million, marking a total spending of £2.2 billion.

It reveals that tourists at live music events add billions to the UK economy, which encourage Britain-wide travel stimulating regional economies. Nearly three-quarters (72%) of music tourism happens outside London, which generated over £20 million for the Manchester economy alone according to 2012 figures; an example of how music tourism is driving local economic recovery.

In Iran music tourism is a known but neglected sector. A profitable industry in many countries worldwide, Iran however has not yet seized the opportunity.

  Social Drawbacks

In rural areas, musicians are unable to make a sustainable living from their music and often have to rely on secondary sources of income; a condition which does not lend itself to tourism.Further, the general view toward music, art and artists is purely a commercial one.

In recent decades there has been a tendency toward cultural unification, but music is not generally seen as a tourism attraction and hence not included as part of touristic packages.

 Structural Drawbacks

The lack of co-ordination between related organizations on tourism results in duplication and inefficiency, and encourages scattered initiatives, which prevents joint cooperation in areas such as research and expertise, thus hindering music tourism to find its deserved position.

The executive secretary of “Aeeneh-dar” (meaning: mirror-holder) festival, Ali Maghaze’i, speaking with CHN says “music tourism takes various forms in western countries; from classical music to popular and from festivals and concerts to street music.”

Aeeneh-dar festival celebrates the music of Iranian ethnic and regional music. It was held for the first time last year (October 2 to 4, 2013) with the collaboration of Mohsen Gallery and Iran House of Music.

Iran, with a long history and notable variety of music and a long list of celebrated musicians has not succeeded to employ music as an art-form to promote tourism tourism, emphasizes Maghaze’i.

There is ample evidence of this in coffee-house style paintings of Hossein Qollar-Aghasi, famous Iranian painter of coffee-house painting and paintings from Safavid era that indicate the popularity of music in different regions of Iran, the official explains.

Some of these musical styles are still found such as Bakhshi’s music in Khorasan and Ashik music of the Azeris; though the latter has mostly been adopted by neighboring Azerbaijan.

With chagrin the Sistan and Balouchestan music, which was directly influenced by the region’s mysticism and religious-mystic views towards life, is now completely died out.

He also points to coffee-house music being popular in provinces of North Khorasan, Gilan, Mazandaran and even Kerman, Bushehr, and Hormozgan.

Maghaze’i, who is also a music expert, believes that “the state approach towards art and especially music is more a hindrance than a help and may even lead to the death of music in the country.”

Any attempt to revive the ancient cultures should be carried out through experts who have dedicated their lives promoting art, culture, and customs. To attain this aim, the support and collaboration of the government is a must as well, he stresses.

Back to the example of the UK, the Culture Minister Ed Vaizey MP said: “Music is without question an essential element of Britain’s tourism appeal. The huge financial contribution to the UK economy by the millions of music tourists annually makes it very clear that when combined, the music and tourism industries are powerful drivers for growth.

And on the part of the private sector the VisitBritain administrators say “we call on government to adopt a music tourism strategy and start developing joined-up policies with us to help exploit this economic advantage. Government should be driving our economic recovery with its strongest hand, of which music must be one finger, and music tourism a second.”