DSA Tourism Study group
Report on the activities of the Tourism Working Group
The tourism working group was re-established in 2015, with some funding from the Development Studies Association and valued assistance from the Royal Anthropological Institute in London, which offered its premises at 50 Fitzroy Street, London, for seminars on tourism to be held.
Over three academic years, seminars were held regularly at the RAI.
12th October: Steve Fothergill (Sheffield Hallam University): Seaside towns in an age of austerity
9th November: Hazel Andrews (John Moore’s University): Magaluf and moral Panic.
7th December: Jim Butcher (Canterbury Christchurch University): Morality or moralising? Ethical tourism’s critique of the masses on holiday.
25th January: Harold Goodwin (Manchester Metropolitan University): All forms of tourism can be more responsible – the mass matters.
29th February: Dorothea Meyer (Sheffield Hallam University): Gaining access to tourism markets: female craft producers in Zanzibar, Tanzania.
21st March: Maria Novelli (Brighton University): The ebola virus disease epidemic and its unexpected effects on tourism in The Gambia and Sierra Leone.
25th April: Peter Smith (St. Mary’s University, Twickenham): International volunteer tourism: decommodified moral encounters or a search for moral meaning?
13th June: Andrew Holden (University of Bedfordshire): Evolving perspectives on tourism’s interaction with nature: connecting at last?
11th October: Heather Jeffrey (University of Bedfordshire): Representing the daughters of Bourguiba: Tunisian women and tourism.
17th November: Mark Hampton (University of Kent): Karst Limestone or Cast Concrete? Coastal Tourism and Local Impacts in Vietnam: lessons from Halong Bay.
15th December: Emmanuel Ad-Ampong (University of Sheffield): Tourism Planning for Economic Development and Poverty Reduction in Ghana.
16th January: Xavier Font (University of Surrey): Marketing Sustainability in Tourism: Greenwashing or Greenhushing?
20th February: Peter Burns (University of Bedfordshire): Tourism and Climate Change: resilience and resistance in Vietnam.
20th March: Nika Balomenon (University of Hertfordshire): Utopia or Dystopia? The development of Kavos, Corfu, into a tourism destination and the impacts on the local community; a pseudo-longitudinal study from 2003 to 2016.
12th June: Chris Cooper (Oxford Brookes University): Challenging tourism contexts for innovation and policy.
For a few months after the seminars began in 2015, attendance ranged from excellent (around forty) to good (about 15 to 20) and they remained at the latter level until the last three months of 2016, when attendance decreased to single figures. This trend continued into 2017, and at the last two seminars only 4 or 5 people attended.
It is difficult to know why attendance fell so precipitately. The venue remained as attractive as ever, the day and time were unchanged, and the quality of the speakers and range of topics were consistently high. In addition, the seminars were publicised through the same channels, primarily the convenor’s own mailing list. And London must have the highest proportion of tourism-orientated departments in the UK.
It maybe that the attraction of such seminars (which are considered here to be the lifeblood of academic involvement in tourism and, indeed, development studies more widely) may have increasingly had to compete with more mundane university duties. Anecdotal evidence suggests this is partly so, and many apologies were received putting failure to attend down to pressure of work. A similar pattern is present at the convenor’s own university.
However, for whatever reason it emerged, such poor attendance cannot justify the efforts involved in organising the seminars and bringing in speakers from outside London and over the summer vacation it was decided to discontinue them at this venue. Instead, following a correspondence with the DSA representatives and colleagues at the Nottingham University, it was decided to take them ‘on the road.’ As a consequence, the DSA has agreed to continue providing funds for regular tourism seminars, to be held at Nottingham in conjunction with the Travel Cultures network based at that university.It is hoped this new, trial arrangement will be successful. If so, it could be extended to other parts of the UK.
Finally, it is worth reporting that the Tourism Working Group held two sessions at the DSA annual conference, in Oxford in 2016 and in Bradford 2017. Again, although the papers were generally of a high standard, as were the ensuing discussions, they were poorly attended. On reflection, there are few other industry-specific tourism working groups in the DSA, and this may reflect a preference among DSA members for more theoretical, political economy-type approaches. If this is indeed the case, it is regrettable, and perhaps DSA members should reflect on tourism’s role in ‘development’ when next on holiday.
19th October 2017
If you are interested in becoming involved, please contact the Group convenor (above).
We propose holding three meetings a term (nine or ten a year), under the overall heading of ‘Tourism Research’. It is expected that most speakers will be senior academics, with a social or environmental science background, and that they will present tourism topics they are currently researching, in the UK or elsewhere, which will have (in the widest sense) a link to ‘development’. Unlike a conference presentation, which normally lasts for a few minutes and allows only a few moments for questions, presentations at the Tourism Working Group are intended to be detailed (lasting at least 40 minutes, and expected to provide material for similarly detailed and intense discussion. Put differently, they aim at serious, scholarly discussion on issues of considerable importance.