Tourism Policy Research after COVID-19

My new article has just been published in the Skyline Business Journal, called ‘Tourism Policy Research after the COVID-19 Pandemic: Reconsidering the Role of the State in Tourism’.

The article is open-access, meaning anyone can read it. I argue that the decisions that governments around the world have taken to intervene in their tourism industries means that we need to re-think the role of the state in tourism. You can read the abstract below and access the whole article here.

Travel Luggage Sea - Free image on Pixabay

“Over the last thirty years of research into tourism policy, there has been a dominant assumption that the appropriate role of the state in tourism is mostly settled. The state has a legitimate role in the tourism industry, but it is essentially one of ‘steering and not rowing’. This assumption has developed against the backdrop of the neoliberal shift towards small states, powerful markets and light touch policy interventions in industry. This research note argues that the measures that have been taken by governments around the world in respect of their tourism industries, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, are sufficiently significant and long-term to warrant a re-appraisal of the role of the state in tourism. Specifically, this note makes the case for a renewed focus on research into tourism policy in non-Western contexts, where the role of the state has not been as constrained by the neoliberal shift, and for an increase in international comparative policy research, which has been notably absent in the tourism policy field to date.”

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:

Acting the part: emotional intelligence and travel agencies

Our new paper ‘Acting the part: Emotional intelligence and job satisfaction as predictors of emotional labor in travel agencies’ has been published open-access in the journal Tourism and Hospitality Research.

Because the paper is open-access, anyone can read it for free, and I have copied the abstract below.

Skadarlija street,  Belgrade
Skadarlija street, Belgrade

“Employees of retail travel agencies in sales roles can have long-lasting, direct contact with tourists which, in the case of poor customer service, can be extremely problematic for businesses. Because of this, it is important to understand how employees manage their emotions to help them to remain satisfied with their work, thus contributing to the satisfaction of tourists. However, job satisfaction, emotional intelligence and emotional labor in tourism have not previously been studied together as variables in a single model. This research analyses the mediating role of emotional intelligence in the relationship between job satisfaction and emotional labor in travel agencies, as well as job satisfaction as an antecedent of emotional labor. Data were collected from 160 employees of 45 travel agencies in the Serbian cities of Belgrade and Novi Sad. Results show that employees’ emotional intelligence mediates the positive relationship between job satisfaction and emotional labor. Management implications: Increasing employees’ emotional intelligence through training and development and actively recruiting employees with high emotional intelligence will reduce emotional exhaustion and improve customer satisfaction for retail travel agencies. Future research should include employees from other countries, in order to make comparisons and to validate results, as well as to test the created model by structural equation modelling (SEM), involving some other possible mediators, such as socio-demographics, personality traits or work motivation.”

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.

Tourist motivations for small european cities

Our latest article has just been published in the journal Sustainability. It is open-access, meaning anyone can read it with no paywall. In the article, we propose a new fuzzy-logic model for analysing tourist motivations, which shows how they can change across different age groups. The research was carried out in Novi Sad, in Serbia, which is typical of many small European cities who are trying to develop sustainable urban tourism by attracting different age-groups. Hopefully, the findings of our research will be useful for other cities facing similar issues. You can read the whole article here, and the abstract is below.

“Tourist motivation, as a core of travel behavior, significantly influences consumer intentions and has attracted academic attention for decades. A plethora of studies analyse sets of internal and external motivators, while methodologies that exclusively focus on a single factor, such as age, that can sometimes have a determining influence in multi-attraction destinations, are less prevalent. This study introduces a fuzzy logic approach to develop a new model for analysing the internal motivations of different-aged consumers in multi-attraction urban destinations. Fuzzy models, as a mathematical means of representing vagueness and imprecise information, have the capability of recognizing, representing, manipulating, interpreting, and utilizing data and information, which typically for urban tourist motivations, are vague and lack certainty. This research tests the model in a real-life setting, using the example of Novi Sad, a mid-sized European city, which is typical of many similar cities who are attempting to develop sustainable tourism by attracting older tourists. The new model shows how tourist motivations for multi-attraction destinations are affected by age, through a specially developed m-file for MATLAB, so that it can be applied and tested in other tourism contexts. Theoretical and practical implications for sustainable destination management and marketing are described.”

Dark Tourism and World Heritage Sites

Our new paper, on Dark Tourism and UNESCO World Heritage Sites (WHS), has just been published in the Journal of Heritage Tourism. In the paper, we report on research that we carried out in Greenwich, London, with stakeholders of the Maritime Greenwich WHS. We found that stakeholders were broadly supportive of tourism development in the area, but had very negative views of dark tourism and didn’t support the idea of developing dark tourism products or service in Greenwich.

Our Greenwich campus

We suggest that, for anyone considering developing dark tourism in complex, urban WHS, real consideration should be given to working with the very diverse set of stakeholders that sites like these necessarily have. We were surprised that our respondents didn’t tend to focus on the multiple and often difficult histories of a site that is so intimately tied to war, conflict and the British Empire, but given the recent sensationalist media on dark tourism that tends to emphasise shock value, this perhaps made sense. You can read the abstract below and the full paper is here.

“Dark tourism has attracted increasing academic attention, but the extent to which it exists as a separate form of tourism from heritage tourism is not yet clear.  Despite the growth of UNESCO World Heritage Site designations, little research has considered the relationship between dark tourism and World Heritage Sites.  Because the development of dark tourism is beset with ethical concerns, heritage professionals can have negative perceptions about the acceptability or attractiveness of it for the sites that they are involved in managing.  This research used a qualitative Delphi Panel method to evaluate stakeholder perceptions of the potential development of dark tourism to the Greenwich Maritime World Heritage Site in London, United Kingdom.  The findings show that stakeholders are broadly supportive of tourism to the site and positive about future tourism growth.  Despite this, they did not support the development of dark tourism to the site because it was perceived as inauthentic, tacky and sensationalist.  In order to address this issue, recommendations are made that future attempts to develop dark tourism at WHS should involve enhancing the knowledge of stakeholders about dark tourism, and of the resources within their sites that could be included in a dark tourism offer to tourists.”

Cultural Tourism during the COVID-19 Pandemic

I took part in a webinar on cultural tourism organised by MEKST this week, about the ways in which cultural tourism and cultural events are being affected by the Pandemic, and how this might be dealt with in the future. Also taking part were Nemanja Milenković, the Director of the Novi Sad European Capital of Culture 2021 foundation, and Dusan Medin, from the University of Donja Gorica in Montenegro.

You can watch a recording of the whole webinar, below:

Tourism Entrepreneurship and Industrial Restructuring

Our latest paper, on industrial restructuring and tourism entrepreneurship in Serbia, has just been published. This is an open access paper that you can download and read, for free, from here. The abstract is below:

Aerial view Orthodox church Lazarevac, Kolubara, Serbia

National culture can influence entrepreneurship by creating a specific cultural framework that defines the possibilities for the recognition of opportunities for entrepreneurial activities, as well as their social desirability. Very large corporations, especially those that dominate a region, also have their own organizational cultures, which in turn influence local social culture, and which can constitute a specific subculture within society. The “Kolubara” mine is the largest in Serbia, employing more than 11,000 workers. As most of its employees are living close to its headquarters, the small town of Lazarevac (Central Serbia), the culture nurtured within this organization and among its employees is heavily intertwined with the social culture of the inhabitants of the town. The GLOBE (Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness) approach was used to investigate the relation between this organizational culture and national culture, by measuring the nine GLOBE cultural dimensions of the “Kolubara” employees and of the inhabitants of Lazarevac. The results of this are discussed and analyzed in the context of the ongoing economic transformation in many post-socialist economies. This study highlights the readiness of the people of small industrial towns, such as Lazarevac, to adapt to this ongoing transition and to undertake entrepreneurial activities in tourism during periods of industrial restructuring and the growth of service industries in former industrial areas.

Tourism Policy Implementation in Bangladesh

Our new paper, on the implementation of tourism policy in Bangladesh has just been published online in the journal Tourism Recreation Research. If you don’t have access, and you would like to read it, please just get in touch!

Cox’s Bazar by Idolhunter Lckuang CC BY-SA 3.0

“National tourism policy in Bangladesh is a relatively new development and this research is the first to focus on the implementation of tourism policy in Bangladesh. Taking a social constructivist perspective, interviews were carried out with 13 elite stakeholders, from the public and private sectors, who are associated with the creation and implementation of tourism policy in Bangladesh. The data were analysed qualitatively using a content analysis approach to examine perceptions of the policy implementation process, and its success. In the case of Bangladesh, it is the persistence of hierarchical governance structures that appears to be hindering the effective implementation of tourism policy. This can be seen in the selection of priority areas by the government, the preferred policy instruments, and in the ways in which the private sector is being incentivised to support national tourism development.”