2012: The many faces of the global tourism experience in the 21st century  >  Consuming or decommodifying? Tourist interactions in destinations

 

THE DARK SIDE OF STAG TOURISM IN EASTERN EUROPE

Written by: Lezak, Magdalena M.

University: Wolverhampton

ABSTRACT

The discussion paper discusses the interaction of stag tourist in Krakow. Additionally, it will discuss its impacts on destination and local communities.

DISCUSSION PAPER
Urry (2002) claimed that tourism is an act of gaze upon destinations which are perceived by tourists as extraordinary. Furthermore, he categorises tourists gaze into different types. Thurnell-Read (2009) argued that stag weekenders are not seeking for 'gaze' but to consume.

In last years, British stag parties have changed. Nights out with dad and mates at local pub have been replaced by few nights away in foreign city. It is estimated that around 3 million British people participate at stag parties every year and nearly 70 per cent of them is going abroad to celebrate 'last night of freedom' (Boazman, 2010). According to FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) nearly 24 per cent of stag weekenders get into trouble during their holidays. Eastern Europe became popular destination for stag parties with the expansion of budget airlines and EU (European Union) enlargement in 2004. Each year Krakow is visited by around 2,6 million foreign visitors and nearly 17 per cent of them are British. Recently, British stag parties in Krakow have been associated with anti-social behaviour and sex tourism.

Undoubting, stag tourism had positive impact on local economies. However, these economies need to face social and security costs (Stag Weekends: The Dirty Secrets, 2010). Stag tourists are consuming local tourism and leisure services such as transport, accommodation, local pubs and nightlife venues. Usually, stag tourists are engaging in heavy drinking which cause anti-social behaviour (Rohrer, 2006). In Krakow, pubs and bars owners were complaining about drunken stag weekenders who get naked and vomit in public areas. Moreover, there have been reports of damaging at the properties. Hence, some of the venues decided to refuse to host stag parties at their premises. Nightclubs' managers claimed that they need to increase number of security staff to ensure safety (Milmo, 2008; Ziemba, 2007). Furthermore, City of Krakow stated that the need to increase the number of police patrols due to stag tourists.

Boazman (2010) pointed out that nowadays stag parties involve more than just visit in strip club. Visiting a prostitute or casual sex with local girl is part of stag weekend for many men. Hence, stag tourism is often associated with sex tourism. It is also argued that visit in strip club is 'forgotten sector of sex tourism' (Ryan and Martin, 2001). There are many different issues related to sex tourism such as exploitation and sex trafficking. (Oppermann, 1999).

Prostitution in Poland is legal. However it is criminal offence to force someone to prostitution or to make profit from prostitution (pimping). The majority of prostitutes are Polish but it is estimated that 40 to 50 per cent are foreign nationals - Ukrainian, Moldavian, Bulgarian or Russian (Plywaczewski, 2006). According to the report produced by La Strada (La strada Foundation against Trafficking in Woman, 2006) in 2003 there were 261 sex trafficking victims in Poland. It is estimated that these are just small fraction of people trafficked. These suggest that many of the sex workers are working in the sex industry against their will. Survey conducted among stag tourists in Amsterdam shown that sex trafficking won't stop them from using sex services as they came to have fun (Stag Weekends: The dirty secrets, 2010).

It is argued that liminal experience is part of tourism nature (Trauer and Ryan, 2005). Tourism enables travellers to escape from their everyday life. For many of them it is opportunity to cross the barriers or to do things they do not normally do. Liminal behaviour can include anti-social behaviour, disorder, and consumption of excessive amount of alcohol and drug abuse. Moreover, visiting a strip club or casual sex with local girl might be perceived as liminal behaviour (Ryan and Kinder, 1999). Thurnell-Read stated alcohol as the main factor for liminal behaviour among British stag tourists in Krakow.

Stag tourism had negative impact on Krakow image. Krakow is one of the UNESCO cultural and herniate protected sites however it is not only associated with culture and history. Results from researches demonstrated that cities in Eastern Europe are perceived by British tourists as perfect destinations for young people or stag weekenders looking for nightlife (Hughes and Allen, 2008).

Recently, Krakow is trying to attract new types of tourists who can bring more benefits into local economy and area. Krakow is trying to attract more business tourists and cultural tourists. Krakow Convention Bureau and local cultural attractions such as museums are working together with council to attract tourists who are not interested in binge drinking and won't harm Krakow image (ICE Krakow, 2012). However, companies offering stag tourism in Eastern Europe are presenting different image of Krakow. Most of these companies are using alcohol and sex to attract customers (Thurnell-Read, 2009). For example, one of the companies offering stag nights in Krakow promote itself with statement 'It's a Stag Night! You will need Tits and Ass. Each Pissup city has a variety of ways to see top quality babes!' (Pissup.com, No date). Fujita and Dinnie (2009) pointed out that achieving co-operation and co-ordination between various stakeholders is most challenging in destination branding.

REFERENCES
Boazman, S. (2010) Stag parties 'fuels sex trafficking'. BBC News [online] [Accessed 26th April 2012] Available at: <http://news.bbc.co.uk>;
Thurnell-Read, T. (2011) Tourism, Place and Space: British Stag Tourism in Poland. Annals of Tourism Research, 39 (2) pp. 801-819
Stag Weekends: The Dirty Secrets (2010) BBC Three. 14 January 2010

Reacting to the Dark Side of Stag Parties

Written by: McGee, Hannah

University: Lincoln

This is an interesting topic to look at, as Lezak has stated there is much more to a stag party than what it once was. And from the statistic that Lezak has use it is clear that more and more stag tourist do not worry about their actions whilst away. Making something that is supposed to be a celebration into something dark and seedy.

Even though Thurnell-Read (2011) has said they believe that the stag aren't searching for 'Gaze' that Urry has spoken about, but just to consume. It could be believed that they are still looking for the 'Gaze', as they want to have the best time that they could possibly have, looking for some 'extraordinary', choosing to take part in something that for the groom-to-be a once and a lifetime experience. Which could then lead back to the fact that they aren't concerned about their actions whilst aboard. The marketing of the destinations that are made for stags, make them want to come into the country for their wild weekends. In Eastern Europe as a destination they are still somewhere tourists are starting to rediscover. From Lezaks research it is clear that in Krakow is trying to remarket itself and bring in different tourists. This will make it more of a desirable place to visit, and will generate a more a varied tourist base.

From the research that Lezak has found it is clear that tourist are not bothered about their behaviour whilst aboard and if it is to offend the local people. I agree that the stag parties take things to far that would not be tolerated in the UK, as they are on holiday they are able to let go of themselves and be a different person to what they are home. It is right to believe that tourist will participate in the liminal experience, as the stags are doing as much as they possibly can, condensed into a small amount of time. This means that they are going to be extreme with their actions and no care to much about the consequences. (Bauer and McKercher. 2003). The gender of the bachelor is a large contributor when talking about their behaviour and actions whilst away. When men are on a stag do they tend to make a fool of the bachelor. Within Williams (1994) it is stated that they tend to feminise and humiliate the bachelor, either by dressing them as a women or by tying them up and removing their clothes. Linking back to the early statement that people on stag parties feel that they are able to do what they want in these different countries.

It is a known fact that most stag parties evolve going to some kind of strip club or in some cases they visit prostitutes. In relation to what Lezak has explained that stag parties they have moved on from strip clubs on to prostitutes or having sex with someone whilst there. This makes it sound something out of the norm, which will happen while on the stag party. Within Boyer's (2007) book it is stated that when on a stag party there is always different versions of what actually happened whilst away. So what could be perceived by one person could be different to another.


Bauer, T. G. and McKercher, B. (2003). Sex and tourism: journeys of romance, love, and lust. London: Haworth Hospitality Press

Boyer, D. (2007). Bachelor Party Confidential: A Real-Life Peek Behind the Closed-Door Tradition. New York: Simon Spotlight Entertainment.

Williams, C. N. (1994).The Bachelor Transgression: Identity and Difference in the Bachelor Party. The Journal of American Folklore. 107 (423). 106-120