Stag Tourism in Central and Eastern Europe

Stag Tourism in Central and Eastern Europe

STAG TOURISM IN CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE
STAG TOURISM IN EASTERN EUROPE STAG TOURISM IN CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE
Table of contents. 1. Introduction…………………………………………………………………………………… 2 2. Problem Statement…………………………………………………………………………...2 3. Methodology. …………………………………………………………………………………..3 4. Findings…………………………………………………………………………………………...5 5. Stag Tourism Destination as Place……………………………………………………. 6 6. Stag Tourism Destination as Space…………………………………………………….9 7. Advantages and Disadvantages……………………………………………………… 11 8. Conclusion……………………………………………………………………………………..14 9. List of References…………………………………………………………………………..14
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1. INTRODUCTION. The market of tourist services, like any other, subject to certain, specific trends that is easily susceptible to fluctuations and depends on a number of social phenomena and processes of a truly non-market (demographic processes, changes in lifestyle, fashion, environmental and political risks, etc..). In this situation the special role plays information. It allows for the fashion direction to formulate a kind of social policy. In the case of tourism, it is an essential element of economic development. Tourism is in fact one of the few sectors of the economy in which business operators for profit formed only infrastructure needed for customers to enjoy the benefits of "property" in common: the landscape and cultural heritage material. At the turn of 21 century has become a very popular stag tourism to the Central and East Europe. The antenuptial stag tour made by groups of British young and adult men who travel to the Central and Eastern European cities for a relatively short time, and become synonymous with drunkenness and extreme behaviour. Recent years have seen the stag night deepened to become a stag weekend or tour involving travel to a foreign city. Main point to this growth of stag tourism has been the progressive expansion of budget airlines making short transfer air travel within Europe both flexible and initial cheap. Additionally, economic disparities between the UK and popular stag destinations like the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Latvia meant that from the 90s and beginning of the 2000s, stag tour groups have been drawn to Central and Eastern European cities by the promise of cheap alcohol, restaurants and entertainment including abundant night life. Such sentiments have been mirrored in media coverage in stag tour destination countries. Thus, stag tourists have been depicted in the Polish press as “renting the cheapest hotels, they set off on nightly pub crawls of the city…if they do see any historical sites, it happens on the way to the night clubs” (Danko, 2006). 2. PROBLEM STATEMENT. It is not so easy to pinpoint in a short paper all the problems which will determine the direction of stag tourism’s development in the twenty-first century. This difficulty results from dynamic transformations which are in our modern civilisation. The speed of our
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everyday life was distinctly slower, as the first wave, the agricultural revolution, but is a social phenomenon, the stag tourism, replete with sensory, embroiled and emotive practice? 3. METHODOLOGY. The searching of stag tourists, and their tendency for behaviour often seen by other inhabitants of the setting as unsuitable or, at times, aggressive, meant that observing how such behaviour is played within the various public and semi-public spaces of the city became a remarkable focus of the research undertaking. Furthermore, given its apparent emphasis on corporeal pleasure and in context disinhibition, a study of stag tourism calls for a methodological approach which “stresses the importance of context and direct experience” and “collecting data in natural settings” (Pole & Lampard, 2002 p.71). The qualitative approach with ethnographic research is seen as suitable given the mix of meanings and interpretations involved in tourism settings and experiences. Ethnography focuses on an entire cultural group. Thus, ethnographic research methods suit the “wide, and often complex, array of social settings and interactions” tourism creates “between the tourist and the local population, between an individual tourist and groups of other tourists and between the tourist and the environment in which he/she finds themselves” (Palmer, 2001 p.310). The research on which this paper is based took place in the Riga, Prague, Polish city Krakow, and generally to Central and East Europe. Participant observation was leaded with separate stag tour groups ranging in size from six to nineteen members and aged between the early twenties and mild thirties. Group members were white British and came from various areas of the British Isles including Scotland, the Midlands counties around Birmingham as well as London and the Southeast of England. Curiously, although stag tourism and its associated behaviour is often seen as a working class phenomenon, the socioeconomic status of participants was mixed with a significant proportion of participants coming from middle class backgrounds, holding higher education qualifications and working in professions such as teaching, the law and finance. The "massive influx" of UK stag and a hen party to Prague has made the Czech Republic a hotspot for British travellers in trouble, figures suggest.
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A Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) report says Britons visiting the Czech Republic need a "disproportionate" amount of consular assistance. 1 The group of man participant stag tour groups so called primary was through Party Poland, one of several tour companies offering various packages to groups of British stag and hen tourists. Although many companies offering stag tours are located in the UK and in as much operate as third-party brokers of accommodation and activity packages, Party Poland is based in Poland. The owner and manager is Polish as are all members of staff. Prior to the weekend, the Party Poland office manager was involved in continued correspondence with groups and as part of this was able to raise the possibility of research participation ahead of the weekend itself. The researcher then made personal contact with the group at the earliest opportunity once they arrived in Krakow. The researcher was introduced as a sociologist researching stag tourism in Poland. This initial meeting allowed for informed consent to be negotiated with the group, the focus and scope of the project to be made clear and any queries or concerns answered. The Latvian capital Riga is among places which have become more popular with British tourists, partly as a result of improved air links to Eastern Europe. Mike Johnson, an American who runs Patricia Tourist Office in Riga, told BBC Radio Five Live local people were not keen on some of the visitors and bad behaviour by some was affecting tourism. "Latvia is a very quiet, shy country - the people are very calm. They teach their children, for example, not to speak in a tram as they ride," he said. 1 To have a bunch of loud-mouthed boys come here and drink, take off their shirts, run around the streets... it's not very wellreceived Mike Johnson, Patricia Tourist Office in Riga
1
The FCO advises travellers to visit its website.
.www.fco.gov.uk/travel before heading abroad.
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Like stresses “The FCO advises travellers to visit” in article “Prague 'tourist trouble hotspot'” more British tourists are taken to hospital in the Czech Republic than in Germany, which receives more than three times the number of Britons. The number of Britons who lose their passports in the Czech Republic is also higher than in Greece, even though Greece has three times as many British visitors, the British Behaviour Abroad Report says. Foreign Office research last year suggested 24% of people on stage and hen parties faced problems abroad. As groups make their way to Krakow, arrive in the city, and make their way from hotels to bars and on to clubs, stag tourism unavoidably involves an engagement with the physical environment of the city.
TOP TROUBLE HOTSPOTS 1. Spain - 13.8m visitors, 5,627 serious assistance cases 2. USA - 4.1m/3,006 3. Greece - 2.4m/2,316 4. France - 11m/1,408 5. Germany - 2.5m/1,381 6. Cyprus - 1.4m/996 7. India - 847,000/914 8. Thailand - 381,000/897 9. Czech Republic - 813,000/845 10. Australia - 650,000/815 Source: British Behaviour Report for 1 April 2005-31 March 2006
4. FINDINGS. The findings are presented based on a distinction between place and space. “Place” refers to how a location, in this case Czech city Prague, Polish city of Krakow, Riga and some places from East Europe, becomes represented as a certain kind of place that is given specific meanings which, as shall be shown, impact on the behaviour of groups and individuals. I moving with analyse in my paper from Poland through Riga, Prague, and Budapest to Ukraine. “Space”, on the other hand, refers to the physical space of the city which the stag tourists move through and involve with. This “space” is social as well as physical; the streets of the
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city, following the likes of Mordue (2005) and Edensor (2002) are open to interpretation, negotiation and dispute by different groups. The physical space of the city is involve with socially and, in doing so, in some ways allows and in others hinder specific social action. 5. STAG TOURISM DESTINATION AS PLACE. “A revolution of “sorts” is taking Europe by storm. Rock-bottom airfares are accomplishing what centuries of war, political squabbles, division, and mutual animosity have hindered: They're finally bringing Europe a little closer together. Europeans are traveling more than ever before, and what seemed implausible only five years ago is now a reality... hordes of Englishmen, Spaniards, Germans, Italians (and more or less everyone else) are descending on previously inaccessible locations like Estonia, Slovenia, Poland (and more or less everywhere else).”(Evans L.1) Central and Eastern Europe has, over the same period, become Britain’s number one foreign stag party destination. The region became more accessible with the emergence of discount airlines like Ryanair and EasyJet in the 1990s, and in nearly every city where a low cost carrier has opened a flight to and from the UK, and a small stag tourism industry has followed. It is often spoken about Central and Eastern Europe by stag tourists as a real promised land where beer is cheap, strong and plentiful and the nightclubs are full of attractive and available women. The rotation of this stag “myth”, through word of mouth, media’s sensationalism and company’s promotions, during the past decade or more has told of alcohol at bargain prices and women easily charmed by the well-dressed and wealthy foreign men. A starting point for understanding the stag tour phenomenon is, as such, the website of any number of numerous companies to have appeared in recent years to package, market and sell stag tour weekends in Central and Eastern European cities. Today, Riga is arguably the “Stag Capital of Eastern Europe”, a distinction that Latvians have struggled with. “The attraction of cheap liquor and exotic prostitutes tempts Britons, Scandinavians, and other Europeans to continental Europe's sin capitals — Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Budapest, Barcelona. And an odd phenomenon is occurring in smaller cities, like Ljubljana, Slovenia, or Bratislava, Slovakia: These inexpensive,
1 Lee
Evans manages the Berlin office of EurAide, a user-friendly travel agency that offers train tickets,
reservations, and thoughtful explanations to Americans traveling in Germany. http://www.ricksteves.com/news/travelnews/0607/stagtourism.htm
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sleepy, off-the-beaten-path towns become temporarily overrun by international stag parties. Then, as word spreads that they're too small to provide the thrills most party-goers are looking for, visits drop off.” (Evans L.) The advertising of such companies are filled with such representations of Eastern Europe which expand a worryingly limited repertoire of consecutive images; beer glasses and vodka shots, Communist red stars, Kalashnikov rifles and miserable dress women around. The latter, in particular, signals the objectification and sexualisation of women, ideals of hegemonic masculinity (Connell, 1987, Connell, 1995 and Connell and Messerschmitt, 2005), as of central importance to the stag tour experience.
These cultural stereotypes are easily adopted and administered by stag groups in their babble and behaviour in relation to the stag tour destination city. In one example, as a flight from Amsterdam airport came in to land members of a group commented on the farm land and houses that surround the Warsaw Chopin airport as being like “a bloody third world country”, and was surprising that Warsaw has many (much more than in Amsterdam) Commercial Centres. Many participants seemed to share a strong image of Eastern Europe as in some way rightly different from the rest of Europe and, in particular, Britain. An interesting case, very “fresh destination”, can be shown from an article “Chernobyl Stag Parties: British Bachelors in Eastern Europe”.1 The economic impact like cheap flights has encouraged gangs of young men to leave their gloomy homeland and terrorize the streets of
1 Source:
http://balkanist.net/chernobyl-stag-parties-british-bachelors-in-eastern-europe/
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European cities rich in culture. In the 90s they arrived in Poland, Czech Republic, mainly in Krakow and Prague. And now the notoriously drunk British stag party tourist has a new destination in Eastern Europe: The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. What going wrong? It can go wrong very quickly. The newest stag weekend destination for British hen with bad behave in Eastern Europe is Chernobyl, the site of the worst nuclear power plant disaster in history. “Take a trip to one of the most iconic facilities in all of the 20th Century!” reads one offer from top stag party organizer Maximize, which is headquartered in a wealthy suburb of north London. “In 1986, Pripyat’s Chernobyl nuclear power plant suffered a huge explosion, leading to the town’s population to drop from 49,000 to 0.” (Lynch L.) The article “Chernobyl Stag Parties: British Bachelors in Eastern Europe” describes traveling to the new stag-destination like “First day is Chernobyl, the next stop on the route is a “VIP nightclub” with a female guide and free beer. One stag tourist named Paul described the experience of visiting a site where people had died or lost their homes forever. “It’s something that is very moving and sobering,” he said. “Then again, it does fuel a fantastic night out.” It is more destinations around Chernobyl nuclear plant. The radius of stag-tourism around Chernobyl is about 30 km, meanly Kiev. Meanwhile, three additional stag party companies are advertising similar trips — Stay in Kiev, Kiev Stag Weekends, and Kiev Stag — all of which look to be based in Ukraine.1 The Chernobyl Tour Weekend costs £293 ($384.31) per person, excluding airfare between the UK and Ukraine. Sure that Britain’s notoriously drunk-and-messy stag revelers aren’t the only travelers interested in “the holy grail of disaster tourism”. An official from Ukraine’s Ministry for Emergencies said that Chernobyl received 13,000 tourists between January and November of last year. “Dark” or “disaster” tourists have been criticized for their tendency to seek out aesthetical or experiential impulse in order to get an emotional “buzz” from sites of human catastrophe.1
1 Source:
http://balkanist.net/chernobyl-stag-parties-british-bachelors-in-eastern-europe/
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Stag parties, anyhow, should be kept away from irradiated ghost towns for safety reasons. About 10 percent of Brits who’d been on a stag weekend admit to having been arrested while abroad. Given their predilection for engaging in “anti-social behavior”, guys on a stag do are probably some of the last people you want around unsecured nuclear materials.1 The stag tour is a time of heightened fun, playfulness and excitement. It is easy to be drawn into enjoying the company of the group, their relaxed humour and quick wit. Additionally, the setting and context of the stag tour lends itself to feelings of camaraderie and often encourages bonding and group cohesion. Meeting groups for the first time leads often warmly welcomed and feeling part of the group, buying drinks, asking questions, telling stories and jokes. From the other side of stag tourism, from supply side, often is domestic girls find curious to feel part of the tourist life. They are easy for one or two drinks agree to keep company for the “exotic” tourists. The stag party has evolved over the last 15 years from a pub night with male friends and relatives to a destination event held far from the spying eyes of “soon-to-be” wives and everyone else back at home. 6. STAG TOURISM DESTINATION AS SPACE. As a city, Prague, Krakow or for example Warsaw is highly suited to stag tourism and tourism general. The cities have beauty Old Towns’ area with cafés, restaurants, and bars. During the warmer month atmospheric alleys, squares, and cozy cafés create a unique sense of history, and become stages for musical and theatrical performances and open-air galleries. During the colder winter month the bars and restaurants tempt warm atmosphere and warm beer (very typical for those cities). The Central European cities offer a considerable array of alternatives in the form of diverse bars, clubs and cafés from Great Britain cities. For this reason many tourists favorite the atmosphere of the bars from British pubs and nightclubs. Many of participants feel “fall in love” with the fabulous bars and restaurants in the Central Europe. The group of stag-tourists walk from hotel to the bar and onwards. Generally the Old Town in the every city represents pearl of performativity spaces within and between which the stag tourists move in search of excitement, entertainment, fun and frivolity.
1 Source:
http://balkanist.net/chernobyl-stag-parties-british-bachelors-in-eastern-europe/
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Apparently joy was taken by many groups of stag tourists in ironically subverting the public spaces they passed through. After many incidents with bad British tourists behave, like throwing up on the many places, loud singing, urinate on the “every corners” and other incomprehensible behavior many cities say: “Enough!” For example in Krakow many bars still close for British groups. “With each passing year, more of Prague’s bars, clubs, and restaurants have hung signs on their doors with the same warning: “No stags”. Hoteliers and tourism board officials have worried that other visitors, those with more money to spend and an interest in the city’s Bohemian culture and history, had been “turned off” by too many roving bands of delirious naked Englishmen urinating on monuments to the struggle against fascism. Even the mayor of the Prague was starting to loathe it: “What is happening here in Prague is going too far,” he said.” (An article “Chernobyl Stag Parties: British Bachelors in Eastern Europe”) In the center of city Riga is a monument dedicated to the soldiers who died fighting in the Latvian War of Independence between 1918 and 1920. Today, it’s also seen as an important national symbol of the country’s sovereignty and independence from the Soviet Union. Unfortunately, some notorious visitors have chosen to treat the Freedom Monument as a latrine. Over a several-month period in 2008, police caught an appalling eight British stag tourists urinating on the Freedom Monument. News of these public pissings was met with considerable rage in Latvia. Still, some people were more forgiving about it than others. “Mainly they say they did not know the significance of this monument, they did not see the toilet nearby, so they peed in the place which seemed the most appropriate for them,” reasoned Eriks Trels, the Chief of Public Order at the Riga Police department.1 The city even formed a special “tourist police” task force in 2010 to manage all the pre matrimonial misbehaving. A campaign aimed at young Latvian women urged them not to have one-night stands with British stag “hooligans” to prevent the city from becoming the “Bangkok of the Baltic”. As in Prague, restaurants and bars began turning large groups of British men away. But Riga’s was a more complete and decisive rejection, and few felt much loss as the stag crowds thinned a bit, writing in the articles about stag-tourism.1 There are many very negative examples of British stag groups in the Central Europe. And those groups sometimes called “British pigs.”
1 Source:
http://balkanist.net/chernobyl-stag-parties-british-bachelors-in-eastern-europe/
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Lee Evans in his article “The Rise of Stag Tourism” wrote: “In Berlin, pub and club owners routinely face hordes of hard-partying foreigners who steal barware, destroy furniture, and leave the most intimate of personal "goodies" waiting to be discovered. Fights often break out. Berliners describe the area around Hackescher Markt as a "vomit minefield" on Sunday mornings. In the summer, Prague's sanitation workers sweep up a 767's worth of aluminium cans every month.” Extremely and poor behaviour isn't exclusively reserved for British stags; Lee Evans recently witnessed a group of drunken Norwegians shouting "Sieg Heil!" of their way through the Oranienburgerstrasse (Berlin's Jewish district) to the extreme dread of all passers-by. “If the tourists are not aware of, or care for, the local customs they may behave in a way that creates severe social friction between tourists and residents and, ultimately between the residents themselves.” (Cooper C. at al.) 7. ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES. Advantages: There are many advantages from generally tourism which generate different types of income for a community: business income, wage earnings, share earnings, rates and levies. But it is very hard to find pros exactly from stag-tourism. From economical side, income sometimes is less than expenditure of repairs hotels rooms or bar equipment, or cleaning streets after such “nice” tourists. But from another side such damages can create new employment opportunities, increase activity of social change in the same way that any form of economic development will change the consumptions habits. If looking for advantages from the cultural exchange, it is not so many. Of course it is very big cultural exchange and maybe sometimes very positive. But it is very individual and rarely examples. The region grew popular: Eastern Europe as strange, perhaps backwards, but full of excitement and possibility. The indirect socio-cultural impacts for those groups of the population who are influenced by the behaviour of the tourists are likely to influence other members of their community by their changed attitudes and behaviour. Disadvantages: Bad opinion about British tourists, because like always everything is generalize. The negative socio-cultural impacts are sometimes the result of direct contact and
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the demonstration effect and these can distort the traditional crafts and customs into shorter, commercialised events that offer the host community little in the way of rich cultural experience. (Cooper C. at al.) In Krakow, Prague, Riga, Warsaw and other many bars is still close for British groups. Stag tourists land from low cost carriers in groups, drunk-on-arrival. Their destinations are Prague, Krakow, Riga, Budapest, Bratislava, Tallinn, Vilnius, Wroclaw, Kiev or Chernobyl. But many of those places have stage laws or formed new police units to manage the stag parties’ and their “humiliating horror show” behavior, which means there are also several go-ahead cities that some say could become the “new City”, including Kiev, Bucharest, Belgrade, Zagreb , Ljubljana, Sofia, and Dubrovnik. From the health aspect: the fact that supply is not only cheap beer but also uninhibited casual sexual encounters is not a new phenomenon. In the stag-tourism destination sexual exploitation has grown year by year. Because hosts income level is very often much low than tourists income level, what increase sexual demand. Although often fatal for tourists, illness like AIDS can cause social and economic stress from the host population. And problem AIDS is getting growth because many stag-tourists from industrialized countries may expect to relax their sexual morals during a trip. On my paper I mentioned new stag-tourist’s destination – Ukraine. From UN World Aids Day report (2012) the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Ukraine is one of the fastest growing in the world. Experts estimated in August 2010 that 1.3 percent of the adult population of Ukraine is infected.
Source: UN World Aids Day report, 2012 Another aspect is crime. In 2004, the Czech tourism board said that 20 percent of its weekend crime was caused by British stag tourists. Posters and beer mats were printed with the words
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“Don’t get arrested for drinking.” But it didn’t seem to work. Bachelors still got blitzed on Becherovka and beer and ran across Charles Bridge wearing nothing but a boob apron (the Brits call that “fancy dress”).1 There are many debates and notes about stag-tourists behavior. Tourists are sometimes clear victims of crime where they are visibly identifiable by language or behave and can be expected to be carrying significant sums of money with them. A committee in the British parliament convened to discuss the enormous burden stags were imposing on consular officials in Prague. In the article “Chernobyl Stag Parties: British Bachelors in Eastern Europe” author describes one case: “The embassy got a call from the airport police to say that a distressed British national (DBN) had been detained in the police station…When we arrive the DBN was still a little drunk. We asked the police officers why he had been detained, the response was that he was caught wandering around the airport hangars. When we ask the DBN about what had happened he said that he was separated from his party and ended up in a taxi drunk, he then fell asleep, the taxi driver took him to the airport, stole all his money and kicked him out. Because he was so drunk he thought that he was going home and tried to get on any plane leaving the airport. Nobody knows how he got into the hangar.” The DBN wasn’t straying at least around drunk in off-limits storage areas on the Chernobyl tour. In 2007 the “British Behavior Abroad” report notes that, the Czech Republic was one of the countries where Brits had “a disproportionate number of lost passports, arrests and hospitalizations.” There are unfortunately many other disadvantages, which bringing with stag-tourism, for example alien cultural experiences of tourists. Many groups stay only in one place, they are moving between bars and hotels, they are don’t enjoy cultural experiences by travelling to different environments.
1 Source:
http://balkanist.net/chernobyl-stag-parties-british-bachelors-in-eastern-europe/
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8. CONCLUSION. It is significant to notice how the stag tour groups’ anticipations and ideas of Central and Eastern Europe influenced their behaviour in the setting. An important feature of stag tourism seems to be the group’s desire to create their behaviour and experience as unique. In fact, much of the motivation of travelling to an Eastern and Central European destination was mounted by the groups as a test to do something different and characteristic which would, as such, suitably mark the stag’s changing status soon to be brought about through marriage. From this point, many groups demonstrated a clear sense of their own group as being particularly drunk and out of control and their behaviour being particularly spontaneous, humorous or transgressive in spite of numerous other British stag groups’ presence and similar behaviour in the city. My paper has shown that the collective nature of stag tourism need a greater understanding of the collective negotiation of meanings attributed to tourism spaces. Research into both the spectacular and more prosaic aspects of stag tourism leads that this case need to research such frequently pilloried forms of tourism behaviour and practice with a sensitive and nonjudgmental approach. While from outside stag-tourist groups behaviour is easily seen as insensitive and unacceptable, within those groups the meaning attached to the spaces they commit with is markedly differentness. 9. LIST OF REFERENCES. References. 1. Cooper C., Fletcher J., Fyall A., Gilbert D., Wanhill S. “Tourism. Principles and Practice” 3 ed. PEARSON, 2005 2. Danko, I. (2006). “The drunken English are causing a stir in Krakow.” Gazeta Wyborcza, July 20th 2006 [Translation from original Polish]. 3. Edensor T. Tourists at the Taj: Walking and gazing S. Taylor (Ed.), Ethnographic Research: A reader, Sage, London (2002) 4. Evans Lee, an article The Rise of "Stag Tourism" http://www.ricksteves.com/news/travelnews/0607/stagtourism.htm
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5. Lynch L. “Chernobyl Stag Parties: British Bachelors in Eastern Europe” October 4, 2013 http://balkanist.net/chernobyl-stag-parties-british-bachelors-in-eastern-europe/ 6. Mordue T. Tourism, performance and social exclusion in ‘Olde York’ Annals of Tourism Research, 32 (1) (2005), pp. 179–198 7. Palmer C. Ethnography: A research method in practice. Journal of International Tourism Research, 3 (4) (2001), pp. 301–312 8. Pole C., Lampard R. “Practical social investigation: Qualitative and quantitative methods in social research” Prentice Hall, Harlow (2002) 9. The FCO advises travellers to visit its website www.fco.gov.uk/travel before heading abroad.

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