Events Management Higher Education: Current issues in the U.K.

I recently gave a keynote presentation at the 2nd International Planning and Creativity Competition, in Hangzhou, China.

In my presentation, I highlighted three issues affecting the development of higher education for events in the UK:

  • Articulating the value of a degree in events management, as opposed to ‘just’ having industry experience or completing work-based training.
  • How to effectively teach about creativity and technology, when most events degrees are taught in business schools.
  • The questions of whether we we helping to develop and enhance the ‘profession’ of events management, or just creating individual professionals.

This event brings together academics, industry figures and students from across China for presentations, workshops and and an event planning competition for undergraduate students. Last year, I was able to speak at the event in person, and a group of our students from the University of Greenwich took part in the competition. Hopefully, we will be back next year. You can view my presentation below:

Cultural tourism and the new silk roads

I recently gave a keynote speech at the 2020 World Culture and Tourism Forum in Xi’an, China. I spoke about the role that cultural tourism could play in the new Silk Road developments.

In my presentation, I focused on how cultural tourism could form a part of the new ‘Silk Roads’ in the context of China’s ‘Belt and Road’ initiative, but also about how cultural tourism might change in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. You can view my presentation below.

UK : China collaboration in the events industry

I recently gave the keynote presentation below as keynote for the Zhejiang Global Exhibtion Forum in Hangzhou, China. You can view the presentation, below. In it, I emphasised three areas of potential collaboration: the fusion of creative and tech; incentive travel; city-city partnerships for event destinations.

James Kennell presenting

Event Management in the Chinese Century: CFP

There are now revised timelines for submission – see end of this post

With my colleague, Dr Mingguang Liu, from Zheijang International Studies University, we have just published a call for papers for a special issue of the journal Event Management on ‘Event Management in the Chinese Century’. You can read the full CFP here.

Changes in political economy, the rise of emerging economies outside of the traditionally USA-dominated trans-Atlantic region and the globalisation of culture enabled by democratised technological channels, have led to profound shifts in the balance of the global economy. Attempting to explain this geopolitical shift, commentators and academics have introduced terms such as the ‘Chinese Century’ (Beckley, 2012; Brands, 2018; Hartley, 2008; Hongling, 2015; Pan, 2013; Stiglitz, 2015), the ‘Pacific Century’ (Borthwick, 2018; Scott, 2008) and the ‘Asian Century’ (Atonopoulos, 2017; Morrison, 2014).

The aim of this special issue is to consider the impact of these macro-level changes on the events industry and research into events, and to help to address a geographical, but also an ideological and cultural, imbalance in events management research, which has tended to focus on the traditionally dominant global economies of North America, Western Europe and Australasia (Kim & Kaewnuch, 2018; Robertson et al., 2018; Spracklen & Lamond, 2016). Recent research has begun to engage with this new context in areas as diverse as education (Werner et al, 2018), events and public diplomacy (Wang, 2018), regional development (Hussain, et al., 2018), the growth of the Chinese events industry (Liu & Lou, 2018) and mega events (Liang, et al., 2016).

Anticipated themes

Papers for this special issue should engage with the context of the Chinese Century, and the implications of this for events management research and practice.  Relevant, recently published research has include the following thematic areas, suggesting that they are worthy of further examination, although the list is not intended to be exhaustive. 

  • Event Management Education
  • The Development of the Chinese Events Industry
  • The Political Economy of Events and Public Diplomacy using Events
  • Events and Regional Development
  • Innovation in the Events Industry
  • Events and Urban Development
  • Mega-Events

Manuscript submission

Authors should submit to James Kennell ( In the first instance, authors should submit an abstract for consideration and feedback, according to the timeframe below.


2nd Call for papers: February 2020

Abstracts for consideration: 31st March 2020

Feedback on abstracts: 10th April 2020

Submission of manuscripts: 6th November 2020

Planned publication date: 2021

China’s new tourism policy 2013-2020

The Chinese Government has launched a new tourism policy, with the aim of significantly enhancing tourism development in the country and establishing China’s tourism industry as a significant economic force in China’s domestic and international tourism markets.

You can download the policy document, in English, by clicking here. In this post, I give an outline of the document and offer some brief analyses of it’s key aims. In our new book, we’ll be looking at this policy in more detail in a case study.


The policy begins by stating some guiding principles.  As with all Chinese policies, it is aligned with the key political ideas that drive the modern(ising) Chinese state -‘Deng Xiaoping Theory‘.  Dengism, as it is also known, is (amongst other things) an attempt to develop the Chinese economy and society in line with its guiding revolutionary and communist principles, but in a way that allows the country to engage constructively with the neoliberal world economy.  This policy exemplifies Dengist policy, emphasising the Chinese national and socialist aims of the policy whilst also promoting individual livelihoods, sustainable development, SME growth and economic development.

The policy goes on to list ‘Major Tasks and Measures’ – these are the key aims of the policy:

  • ‘Sufficient time for national tourism and leisure’

This is a demand-side measure to develop the market for China’s tourism industry by enforcing regulations on statutory paid annual leave entitlements for Chinese workers.  By increasing the number of ‘rest days’ available to the population,this should (in theory) lead to people wanting to spend their time and money on products and services offered by the domestic tourism industry.  Also, this should help China’s outbound industry to grow.  In addition, schools and universities are to be asked to consider both extending and changing their holiday periods.

Foxonn workers

  • ‘Better environment for national tourism and leisure’

This measure aims to increase the availability and accessibility of key tourism destinations and attractions.  ‘Public museums, memorial halls and sites for patriotic education will gradually open to the public for free’.  Local government is asked to improve the quality of tourism transport and businesses are encouraged to give favourable treatment to tourists.

  • ‘Improved infrastructure for national tourism and leisure’

The Chinese government intends to increase the supply of tourism facilities including new parks, ‘tourism villages’, family and budget hotels, cruise terminals, marinas and tourism zones.  This aim also highlights the need to improve access to tourism for those with additional needs.

  • ‘Product development and activity organisation of national tourism and leisure’

This is a supply-side measure that has the intention of diversifying and developing the Chinese tourism industry through the creation of new tourism sub-sectors such as sport tourism, medical tourism, bicycle tourism and others.  The policy also mentions the development of ‘red tourism’, which is a form of political tourism that celebrates the Chinese state and its recent revolutionary history, and aims to promote ‘fine traditional culture’.  This measure also includes a commitment to developing the knowledge base for tourism development, increasing R&D in tourism and supporting technological developments in the tourism industry.

'Red tourists' experience a historical gun battle.
‘Red tourists’ experience a historical gun battle.

  • ‘Well developed public services for national tourism and leisure’

This section of the policy is the least novel, and the most comparable to other national tourism policies.  It sets out the ambition to create new tourist information services, including TICs, road signage and websites.  Along with this, the policy gives priority to staff training and higher education and vocational education in tourism management.

  • ‘Enhanced service quality in national tourism and leisure’

The final measure is an aim to develop service and quality standards for the tourism industry in China, including a quality guarantee system for tourism and leisure.

The section of the policy document that covers the governance of tourism and the implementation of the policy is very short.  Given the top-down nature of the Chinese political system, it is likely that the governance arrangements are fairly established and that there won’t be a set of tourism-specific institutional arrangements.  The policy refers to ‘development and reform commissions, tourism departments, trade unions, communist youth league organisations, women’s federations and relevant industrial associations’ as all having a role to play in implementing the policy.

This new policy document gives an insight into the modernisation and development of China’s tourism industry.  In common with many national tourism policies, including the latest UK Tourism Policy, it makes no mention of China’s outbound tourism sector, and focuses wholly on the development of the national tourism product.  Despite the widely held perception that China does things differently to the rest of the world, this is actually a very orthodox form of tourism policy.  It concentrates on product diversification and development and contains some standard aims to increase education and training and to improve tourist information.

The size of the Chinese domestic tourism market is huge, with some estimates suggesting that there may be as many as 1.7bn domestic tourist trips taken each year. As the Chinese government attempts to develop their domestic markets and rebalance away from being an export-oriented economy, to one that is less-reliant on overseas economies, especially the USA, the tourism and leisure sectors offer an opportunity to develop both domestic consumption and new employment sectors.

This policy takes a very broad overview of the Chinese tourism industry, aiming to increase quality and diversity in all of its aspects.  The lack of a clear set of targets or implementation plans in the policy document means that it will be difficult to evaluate it’s success, but the strength of the central Chinese state suggest that the many of the aspirational aims of the policy will be funded and delivered and that this will be carried out on an immense scale.

London 2012 visit to Beijing

I was interview by a journalist from AFP last week about the presence of London 2012 organisers in Beijing, observing and networking in preparation for London’s games in four years time.  I was asked about the value of visiting other host cities and what, specifically, London could hope to learn. 

As has become quite clear now, the levels of resource that China has been able to bring to bear on Beijing 2008 has been astronomical, with most estimates coming at between $36bn-$40bn, around double the amount predicted for London 2012.  In addition to this, the level of control that the Chinese government have been able to exert over the scope and pace of development is something that the vast majority of future host cities will be unable to match and that even China itself may not be able to replicate for future mega-projects as the institutions of civil society and neo-liberalism emerge within its own borders.  Paul Deighton, the Chief Executive of LOCOG, is quoted as saying that London 2012 is more likely to be the model for future games and he is most likely correct.  But how far can the experience of any host city influence future games?  The example of Barcelona 1992 is one the most-often referred to when host cities are looking to emphasise the transformative benefits of hosting the games, but the specific combination of political personalities, economic conditions and strategic vision (if not always strategic planning!) is something that can’t just be taken ‘off-the-shelf’ and implanted elsewhere.  Much of the knowledge transfer between games is taking place through the movement of individuals with experience of Olympics projects between host cities and, although there will always be a vital amount of transferability, the importance of local knowledge is paramount to a successful games.

What London will be observing keenly in Beijing is how they deal with the security situation.  This has two components.  Firstly, explicit terrorist threats such as the one made to Beijing last week and the events in Xinjaing province.  What impact will these events have on security arrangements and the perception of games-time safety by participants and spectators, given that similar threats are likely during 2012?  (I have blogged hereabout the costs of London’s games-time security)  Secondly, how is protest being managed during the games by the Chinese authorities?  Despite the dramatic rise in protest activity in China over the last five years the Chinese government normally responds in a draconian fashion to political protest.  During the games, China has had to adopt a (slightly) more liberal stance on this issue.  The London games is likely to be the first civil-protest games, with activist groups coordinating activity on a broad spectrum of issues.  London will be looking at response-innovations such as defined protest areas and protest permits with a view to minimizing the disruption during the 2012 games.

You can read the AFP story here.