50th Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "Sustainable Regional Growth and Development in the Creative Knowledge Economy", 19-23 August 2010, Jönköping, Sweden
Already in the 1980s industrial tourism - people visiting operational companies - has been identified as a growing segment of regional tourism industries. Since then the pressure on companies to open their doors for other members of the society has only increased. Several scholars (e.g. Frew, 2000; Soyez, 1993; Mitchell & Orwig, 2002) have discussed the relevance of industrial tourism for regions and firms. There are several reasons to promote industrial tourism but also to keep doors closed. This article adds to this debate by discussing the regional impact of industrial tourism in a more structured way. What are the costs and benefits of industrial tourism, and how are these distributed among the relevant (public and private) stakeholders? We start by discussing various methods to measure the economic impacts of tourism, including multiplier and general economic modelling, and their application to industrial tourism. This discussion will make clear which kind of economic impacts can expected from (industrial) tourism and the capability of each of the modelling techniques to adequately measure and/or predict these. This analysis will be complemented by an overview of other impacts of industrial tourism, which are not (fully) included in these economic modelling techniques. This will enable us to present a full picture of the costs and benefits.