Content is key for literature-based travel tours

BOOK worms who are drawn to the real-life homes and towns of their literary heroes or their favourite characters are less fussed about the destination itself and more interested in the content provided on literature-based tours, ASA Cultural Tours’ Marketing Manager Sandra Hansen told travelBulletin.

“Anyone can take you to Jane Austen’s house,” Hansen said, but it’s the truly memorable moments such as meeting the descendants of a writer or enjoying a dinner in the same spot where Mark Twain once dined that keeps people coming back.

Aside from the content, what also makes a literary tour successful is the depth of the group leader’s knowledge on the topic, the private visits on offer and the unique experiences available, she said.

“That being said great writers like Jane Austen and the Bronte Sisters will always draw people to Britain,” Hansen admitted.

VisitBritain said literature fans heading to Britain this year would have a lot to look forward to, with a host of events, exhibitions, talks and performances set to be held in celebration of major literary milestones such as the bicentenary of Jane Austen’s death and the 20th year since Harry Potter was first published.

Although JK Rowling’s cult series was penned in a small caf in Edinburgh, the film adaptions put many of Britain’s landmarks on the map as ‘Potter Pilgrimage sites’, VisitBritain said, with many fans likely to head to iconic spots such as Northumberland’s Alnwick Castle (one of the many Hogwarts locations) and the Reptile House at ZSL London Zoo (where Harry first learns he can speak to snakes) to celebrate the anniversary.

The milestone moment also sees a new exhibition launched at the British Library on the 20th of October, giving fans the chance to get up close with rare manuscripts and objects alongside previously unseen material from JK Rowling’s private archives.

Neighbouring Ireland is another destination that should be on the bucket lists of all literary fanatics this year, Tourism Ireland said, with Dublin named a UNESCO World City of Literature.

Home to literary greats such as James Joyce, C.S. Lewis, Oscar Wilde and Jonathan Swift, the Emerald Isle hosts several festivals throughout the year including the International Literature Festival Dublin, Bloomsday and the West Cork Literary Festival.

“Wherever or whenever they visit, there is something to delight the avid reader, budding writer or lover of literature,” Tourism Ireland said.