Recently, I was a keynote speaker at the MEKST 2015 conference in Novi Sad, in Serbia. This is an annual conference held in Serbia for students and faculty from around the Balkans, with a focus on the countries of the former Yugoslavia.
This was the third event I have spoken at in the region over the last two years, after the Belgrade Tourism Conference and Turizimijada in Montenegro. These events aren’t really like anything I’ve seen in the UK or Western Europe – groups of students travel together from neighbouring countries and spend their time together hearing local and international speakers, share their experiences as students and take part in social activities.
This was an excellent conference, which covered a range of topics, with a different theme for each day: Cultural Tourism, European Projects and Information Technology in Tourism. In my talk, I used images of diverse cultural expressions in the region to explore how cultural tourism can be developed using non-traditional forms of culture. My main message was that cultural experiences can be surprising and exciting, and that tourism development in the region can use cultural experiences to attract and satisfy tourists. You can view my presentation below:
I enjoyed my second visit to Serbia – the city of Novi Sad is beautiful and Serbian hospitality is (always) excellent. It is hard to imagine a similar working in the UK; we don’t have the culture of student-based academic events like they do in the Balkans. This is a shame, as events like these showcase the talents and energy of the next generation of tourism and events professionals and give participants amazing opportunities for networking. The next event is being held from 23-15 November 2016 and I would encourage UK-based tourism students to attend to develop their careers and make new contacts in a region where tourism development is really taking off.