Industry Update
Opinion Article14 January 2010

The Unlimited Potential of Knitting Tourism

By Ian Yeoman, Associate Professor at Victoria University School of Management

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I was in the gent's toilet the other day and I saw an advert for a Knitting Club over the urinals. Is this something odd or a representation of a new trend? Why the gent's toilet? Looking for an explanation I searched through a range of data bases to find an answer. So, what is the answer I found?

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  • According to Faith Popcorn, consumers are shutting the door on the world and cocooning. For example, interest in interior design means a renewed interest in heritage and tradition asan activereaction to uncertainty about the future.
  • This uncertainty is a representation of anxiety amongst consumers with high levels of debt, job insecurity and increasing everyday pressures of consumers living a complicated life.
  • A shift in fashion is occurring. There is a renewed interest in vintage and authenticity rather than designer labels. According to trend spotter, William Higham AristoChic has replacedBohoChic. Wool sales are on the increase in shops. Crafts and old fashioned skills are in demand. The knitting club is the new book club. Guerrilla knitting sessions are happening on public transport and knit-ins are being organised across the world. Books like Stitch n' Bitch, Son of Stitch n' Bitch (allegedly for men) and the Happy Hooker are iconic cultural master pieces which have changed the image of knitting. Stitch n' Bitch clubs are where knitters and crocheters get together on a regular basis to stitch and, well, you know. These clubs can be found all over the world from Waiotemarama Gorge toAbu Dhabi.
  • Ethan Watters coined the term 'urban tribes' in the 1990's, where friends are your new family. The 1990's TV show 'Friends' is a representation of this, where friends get together to talk in the local coffee shop. These friends are highly educated, want to learn and acquire new skills. These people are also single, urban and like Bridgette Jones need a social network.
  • We are seeing an increased interest and participation in natural well being rather than going to the gym. Pastimes like knitting and dancing are being reborn. From New York to Wellington there are umpteen dance classes for Tango, Ceroc and Salsa. All single people looking for something to do in an urban world.
  • Today's consumer is more about inconscipicious consumption rather than flashy, in your face stuff. To a certain extent, bungee jumping is going out of fashion as an unnecessary evil. Consumers are saying (especially Americans); don't flaunt your wealth in front of me. For example in the 'meetings industry', if your facility has the title 'resort' in it, it must be about fun and in contradiction to pharmaceutical industry regulations on hospitality and entertainment.
  • We are getting back to basics. Marriage is back in vogue and divorce rates are in decline. Family relationships and values are perceived by consumers the most important things in there lives. The nuclear family is stretching out as debt levels amongst student's forces them to stay at home and grand parents coming back into the family home as caregivers and being cared for. It's something like out of the Walton's (if you can remember the TV program)
  • We are doing more hobbies such as knitting because of a general increase in leisure time amongst elderly baby boomers. Bridgette Jones is looking for a boyfriend or friend, hence why not join a club or society. Today's consumers want new and shared experiences, hence the rise of the knitting club.
  • Grannies and knitting are in vogue, whether it is Ganny Bags or designer socks from netgranny. Even your ipod can have a range of sock covers
  • You would think that teenagers were all alcoholics, having sex all the time, on P and have a disruptive influence in society. Especially if you listened to the media. In fact, a trend is emerging in which some teenagers and those in there 20's seek a traditional moral framework. In fact, teenagers are taking a more adult approach to life just like Saffy in AbsolutelyFabulous. As a result, there is greater interest in the environment and being green. When I was at school, the social-educational issues were racism and equality; today those issues are the environment and climate change. So, a shift is occurring that is important for the future.
  • According to the social forecaster Richard Scase single women in their thirties and forties have a well developed social network and confidence that men lack. Men define themselves more by there work, and relax with too much unhealthy food and drink. A recipe for isolation and loneliness. Single women by contrast, are more likely to see friends, explore their spiritual side and relax with yoga. Yes, the knitting club will probably have more female members but the club concept is stretching out to men too overcome this weak trend.
  • Many people read books on holiday, others pass the time away knitting. The internet is full of holiday knitting patterns and ideas and there are even knitting holiday blogs. Whilst on holiday, advice about knitting is only a touch away (or should I stitch). Easystitch is one of the latest apps for your Iphone.
  • In the world of the Long Tail, knitting holidays have come to fruition, why not take part in a knitting retreat with Yard Barn Holidays where ladies can relax and knit in a seaside town away from their busy lives. The website goes on to say treat yourself to a week of pure indulgence. Share your knitting problems with other like minded souls. Celebrate the item or garment that has given you the most pride to knit or crochet with an appreciative audience. For something more adventurous how about knitting, quilting or lace making holidays in cultural France staying at the Le Vieux Monastry. Why not take a knitting cruise with Royal Caribbean, offering a range of classes, world styles and international knitting experts.
  • In New Zealand, I can envisage Tourism New Zealand chasing high yield tourists knitting with Merino wool. A totally 100% Pure Woolly Experience.

Today's society is changing. It's a world of micro trends and segmented markets like the knitting club. Anyway, the knitting club meets on a Monday night at the Southern Cross Bar, Wellington. If anyone is interested, see http://thecross.co.nz/knittingcircle for further details.


Dr Ian Yeoman is the world's only professional crystal ball gazer or futurologist specializing in travel and tourism. Ian learned his trade as the scenario planner for VisitScotland, where he established the process of futures thinking within the organisation using a variety of techniques including economic modelling, trends analysis and scenario construction. In May 2008, Ian was appointed an Assoc. Professor of Tourism Management at Victoria University, He is a popular speaker at conferences and was described by the UK Sunday Times as the country's leading contemporary futurologist.

Ian has a PhD in Management Science from Napier University, Edinburgh and a BSc (Hons) in Catering Systems from Sheffield Hallam University. Previously, Ian was Senior Lecturer in Tourism and Hospitality Management at Napier University and University College, Birmingham. He has extensive experience within the hospitality industry, for which he was a hotel manager with Trusthouse Forte.

Ian has received a number of awards in recognition of his research including his appointment as a Honorary Professor of Tourism Management at Stirling University, Visiting Professor at Stenden University of Applied Sciences and a Visiting Research Fellow at Sheffield Hallam University.

More details about Ian and futurology in the travel industry can be at www.tomorrowstourist.com

Ian Yeoman

Ian Yeoman is the world's only professional crystal ball gazer or futurologist specializing in travel and tourism. Ian learned his trade as the scenario planner for VisitScotland, where he established the process of futures thinking within the organisation using a variety of techniques including economic modelling, trends analysis and scenario construction.

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    Ian Yeoman
    Victoria University Management School | Victoria University
    Phone: 00 64 (0) 4 463 5717
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