On behalf of the Tourism Geographies community of scholars, I want to thank Professor Shaul Krakover (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel) for his contributions as one of the journal's founding editors. As of September 2016, he will phase out of that position and become an Emeritus Editor for the journal.
Shaul was the first person to encourage me to seriously consider proposing an academic journal with a focus on the geography of tourism when I was a visiting professor at the National University of Singapore in 1997-98. It is very likely that Tourism Geographies, at least as we know it today, would not exist if it were not for his initial insights in that direction. His help with the journal in the years since the first issue came out in 1999 is much appreciated, along with his frequent attendance at Editorial Board meetings, usually held at the annual AAG conference.
You can see Shaul's LinkedIn profile here.
We wish Shaul all the best has he transitions into what sound like a very active retirement.
-- Alan Lew
Thank You, Shaul Krakover (Tourism Geographies Emeritus Editor for Mediterranean, Middle East and Africa)
I am sure that authors feel really bad when they submit an article to Tourism Geographies (or any journal) and it gets a desk rejection -- i.e., an editor decides not to send a paper out for anonymous review. There are several reasons for doing a desk rejection, including a poorly written paper with many grammar and other problems. But the most common reason that I encounter is that the paper is primarily a case study that does not address a theoretical or conceptually debated social science issue. For that type of paper, here is a typical paragraph that I might send to explain my decision:
Tourism Geographies is a social science journal and we primarily publishing papers that address theoretical issues grounded in the social sciences. Your paper lacks a significant theoretical research question (or at least it was not clearly defined) and is mostly dealing with issues related to a specific, though very detailed, case study. Your conclusions, for example, only address the case study and do not offer findings that inform a debated conceptual problem that would be of interest to a global audience. Because of this issue, I will not be sending it out for review.
When I tell people this in writing workshops that I sometimes conduct, someone often asks if that means I would never accept a case study. The answer, of course, is no. Case studies are important. But they are not the most important part of a good paper. Here is some advice that I once received about doing research, and which I try to instill in people (students and colleagues) who I advise.
This is what I am looking for when authors submit a paper to Tourism Geographies. I have no problem that there is a case study, but most importantly I want to know what the conceptual problem is that the case study is helping to resolve. Secondarily would be the question of why this case study is especially good in addressing the conceptual problem.
This approach has helped me enormously in my own conceptualization of research projects and papers. Hopefully this tip will help others, as well.
Alan A. Lew
Update 24 May 2016 - METHODOLOGY & OTHER ISSUES: Following the guideline above will not, of course, guarantee that you will avoid a desk rejection from a Tourism Geographies editor. Some of the other issues that our group looks for include:
Update 24 May 2016 - LACK OF OTHER RESEARCH: One indication that a paper is a case study that does not contribute to theory is when authors state that their research is significant because very few others have looked at their topic. This is made worse when the lack of other research is the one and only reason that the research paper is considered a significant contribution to the literature. Lack of research on a topic does not equal significance -- it could mean that others found the topic too insignificant to pursue. It also does not demonstrate a contribution to theory. In my experience, the use of this justification usually points to a mostly descriptive case study.
Update 8 October 2016 - "TOURISM PLACES" SPECIAL EDITION: Starting in 2017, Tourism Geographies will publish a special edition titled Tourism Places: Critical Perspectives on Tourism Development and Experiences. This special edition will feature well crafted case studies that give insight into tourism in a place, with less concern for the development of social science theory. One special edition is planned for 2017, but two or more editions may come out in future years based on demand. Additional information on the Special Edition of the journal can be found on the Author Notes page of this website.
This posting has been moved to the new Collaborative for Sustainable and Resilient Communities Blog, which is a more appropriate place for it.
Professor Victor B. Teye was on the original Editorial Board for Tourism Geographies and served on the journal until his retirement a few years ago. He was originally from Ghana, about which he wrote in Tourism Geographies (1999). Victor was a good friend and a dedicated teacher of both tourism studies and the world, having taken an astonishingly large number of students on summer study abroad trips during his many years at Arizona State University.
The following was excerpted from his formal obituary:
His long-time colleague. Professor Dallen Timothy, offers some memories of Victor, below.
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
With heavy hearts and a deep sense of loss, we at Arizona State University wish to inform the tourism community of Victor Teye’s passing earlier this week. Our forever youthful Victor B. Teye was a pioneer in tourism research. His groundbreaking work, which appeared often in the top journals, shed much light on political instability and tourism, community development through tourism and tourism in developing regions. He was a vanguard in tourism research in Africa and a staunch defender of tourism education and research. Following his stellar career at Arizona State University for many years, Victor retired just a few years ago to spend more time with his family. He was an exemplary father, outstanding educator, tremendous scholar and very dear friend to many. Professor Victor B. Teye will be sorely missed in every corner on the globe but no more so than here at home.
Sincerely yours, Dallen Timothy (photos of Victor in Australia
provided by Dallen Timothy)
Dr Dallen J. Timothy, Professor
School of Community Resources and Development
Arizona State University
Phoenix, AZ 95004, USA
Robert Preston-Whyte (1939 - 2015) was a founding Editorial Board Member for Tourism Geographies and an active member of the Commission on the Geography of Tourism, Leisure and Global Change of the International Geographical Union (IGU). He was instrumental in organizing the IGU meeting in Durban in 2002, after which Rob led several of us on a great field trip of KwaZulu-Natal. He was an early contributor to Tourism Geographies (1999 and 2002) and will be well remembered by those who knew him for his enthusiasm for life.
Below is an more complete obituary of Rob's academic career, which is reposted here with permission of his colleagues at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
OBITUARY: PROFESSOR ROB PRESTON-WHYTE
It is with deep sadness that we inform the University and the broader geography community of the death, after a short illness, of Emeritus Professor of the previous School of Environmental Sciences, Professor Robert Preston-Whyte. Born in the Midlands of KwaZulu-Natal, it is fitting that Rob lived out his life, after his retirement from the University of KwaZuluNatal, on his small holding in Nottingham Road. Here he and his wife, Merle Holden were able to explore their many interests and find peace and happiness.
Rob was a true product of the former University of Natal, completing all his formal studies on the Pietermaritzburg campus and spending most of his working life in the Geography and Environmental Science Department on the Howard College campus, except for a brief stint at the CSIR in Pretoria.
Rob was a true scholar and intellectual. He was widely read, being equally comfortable discussing English literature as he was meteorological theory. His greatest scientific contribution was to our understanding of the local circulations of KwaZulu-Natal. He gathered his data the hard way – many days and nights spent tracking pilot balloons with a theodolite – but was ultimately able to establish the characteristics and mechanisms of the land and sea breezes and topographically-induced winds in KZN. This knowledge has contributed to our understanding of local pollution transport, occurrence of coastal rainfall, the initiation and passage of thunderstorms across KZN, amongst other meteorological patterns.
Geographers of the time will remember his vision, prescience and astute academic management when, as Professor, and Head of Department in the 1970’s and eighties, he successfully shifted the ethos of his department. It moved from one of dry, antiquated academia to that of a teaching and research institution that not only created the intellectual challenges of theory and debate, but engaged in strong teaching and research into elements of Physical and Human Geography that had immediate impact on the daily life of communities.
During the eighties and nineties he became convinced that the discipline of geography, through its inclusiveness and its strong natural and social science foundations, should become a scientific and academic leader in the wave of environmental of concern sweeping the world. He soon recognised that accurate maps and global scale environmental monitoring would be essential to successful environmental management, and brought in the skills necessary for developing a strong teaching and research programme in burgeoning Geographic Information Systems and Remote Sensing industry.
These monumental shifts in approach increased the stature and reputation of Geography in a spectacular way, and built student demand for the subject hugely, especially at the post-graduate level. The department was now producing not only academics, but also young professionals who would find their place in career positions in commerce and industry in South Africa and beyond.
In the latter years of his academic career, Rob shifted his interests to tourism geography, writing creatively about liminal spaces on the Durban coastline. This reflected his exceptional ability to work on internationally recognised research both within the physical and social sciences. As such, he was a true geographer. However, it was his early work in climatology that made its mark and that led to a landmark text book that was prescribed reading for climatology students across South Africa.
In the broader University community Rob will be remembered for his 10 years spent as Dean of Social Sciences. During his period of office he brought the faculty to a position of leadership within the university – at one point its publication to staff ratio was the best in the whole institution, this notwithstanding his constant battles with higher administration for a fairer division of resources and his intense dislike of the political machinations at that stage current in University politics in general.
It is typical of the man that after his retirement in 2004 he was able to re-invent himself. He returned to his roots in the Natal Midlands. His almost endless, inspirational energy was expended not on academic battles any longer, but in developing his small holding in an environmentally consistent manner. His horses, golf, and clay pigeon shooting intertwined with creative writing and before his death he had already published four novels.
Rob was in his element on geography field trips, when he was able to enthusiastically impart his wide general knowledge about the fauna and flora, stratigraphy, local climate and local community, to students. Generations of students will recall trying to keep up with him as he strode up mountains at a pace that few could match. Always young and fit for his age, his untimely and sudden death from melanoma cancer is a shock to all of us. Rob was a visionary, an exceptional leader, an inspiring intellectual and a true friend. What a privilege it was to know, work with and be taught by such a passionate, inspirational and committed individual.
Professor Roseanne Diab, Executive Officer, Acadmy of Science of South Africa and Emeritus Professor, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Professor Gerry Garland, Past-Chairman, Department of Geography and Urban Planning, University of United Arab Emirates, Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Dr. Catherine Sutherland, Lecturer, School of Built Environment and Development Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Click Here to download a free copy of a useful and insightful report from a Publishing Tips workshop in 2012 sponsored by the Regional Studies Association (RSA) in the UK.
Summary Tips and more Detailed Discussions are offered on the following topics for PhD students and academic researchers:
by Honggang Xu, Chaozhi Zhang & Alan A. Lew
This is the pre-publication version of the introduction to the special issue of Tourism Geographies, volume 16 (2014), no. 5 on Tourism Geography Research in China. (pages 711-716, DOI:10.1080/14616688.2014.963663)
Since the adoption of the open door policy of the 1990s, China’s international and domestic tourism has grown quickly, resulting its being designated as one of the country’s national cornerstone industries in 2009. The UNWTO (2009) has projected China to become the world’s largest international tourism destination by 2020 (WTO, 2009). The speed of growth, along with China’s historical context, results in quite unique patterns of tourism development in China. For example, unlike other developing countries which rely on international tourism, within a very short time, China’s domestic tourism exceeded international tourism and has had the most significant impacts on Chinese social, economic and environmental spheres.
Tourism research growth in China
Along with the growth in tourism, research into Chinese tourism has also been expanding. In mainland China, this growth is seen in an increase in tourism studies in the academic literature, the rise of projects funded by national research foundations, and the recognition of Chinese tourism journals, such as Tourism Tribune and Tourism Sciences, as important social science journals within China. These expanded interests are also seen in the international academic world, with contribution by Chinese scholars and other, both inside and outside the country. The Journal of China Tourism, for example, was established to meet the demand for more internationally accessible tourism research on China. Papers published in Tourism Management and other tourism English language journals have also been increasing (Tsang & Hsu, 2011). Due to these increases, there has recently been a boom of review articles on Chinese tourism research (in both Chinese and English), discussing research themes, disciplines, institutional contribution, and authorship. For instance, almost every issue of Tourism Tribune, includes a review-type article. Although these review articles are different in their database pools, they all agree that growth exists both in the quantity and diversity of the studies (see Huang & Hsu, 2008; Kong & Cheung, 2009; Chen & Bao 2011; Tsang & Hsu, 2011; Zhong, Wu & Morrison, 2013; Leung et al., 2013; and Bao, Chen & Ma, 2014).
The development of Chinese tourism research must be taken within the country’s unique social and cultural context. Tourism research in China started in the early 1980s in isolation from the international world. It was mainly driven by the potential economic contribution of tourism to a country that was emerging from a closed period of essentially no tourism (Lew, 1987). As a result, the tourism studies were mainly policy papers written for government bodies. The isolation of Chinese tourism research was gradually removed in the mid-1990s as the top universities in China were able to access international academic literature. The access to international journal papers greatly contributed to the styles of tourism research conducted in China in terms of research questions, research methods, and presentation format. In addition, after over a decade of tourism development (since about 1980), the impacts of tourism development began to be more clearly perceived, while the competition for tourist markets within China also increased. These changes also served as important factors prompting researchers to examine broader themes beyond the previous policy studies (Bao, Chen & Ma, 2014).
Although the topics are diverse and some topics are cutting-edge issues worldwide, the ways the research has been carried out are still different in China compared to international academic research. From the international academic point of view, some of the research done inside mainland China is conceptually and methodology weak and could benefit from greater engagement with international counterparts (Huang & Hsu, 2008). On the other hand, for tourism researchers inside China, although they feel that they have learned greatly from international colleagues in terms of research design and methodology, they also feel that the contexts of international research cannot be applied to China because it is detached from practice and the various constraints on carrying out field work inside China (Chen & Bao, 2011).
It is widely agreed that the dialogue between the two groups will bring benefits to each (Chen and Bao, 2011; Zhong, 2013). The way that most of that dialogue currently works is in the form of knowledge about Chinese tourism research flowing from international scholars to the mainland Chinese scholars through international English language journals. The flow from China to the international academy is limited because so few Chinese scholars are able to publish in English. Most of the mainland China tourism research papers that are currently published in English are found in the Journal of China Tourism Research. Although there has been an increasing trend of citing papers from Chinese journals in international publications. For instance, Tourism Tribune ranked among the top ten Chinese journals cited in English language journals. Still, the knowledge flow from mainland China needs to increase and there is a need to find ways to disseminate that knowledge to a broader audience (Leung et al., 2013). This special collection of papers in Tourism Geographies attempts to meet this need.
The research gap and the importance of the institutions in tourism in China
Zhong, Wu and Morrison (2013) published a recent review paper on China tourism research based on 333 articles on China’s tourism from 96 English-language academic journals within and outside the field of tourism from 1978 to 2012. (This paper has the largest database pool and the findings are consistent with Huang and Hsu (2008), who examined the articles published in Tourism Tribune from 2000 to 2005 in terms of research themes and research topics.) Both inside mainland China and in the English academic world, the two predominant research themes were (1) tourism policy and impacts and (2) tourism industry development and promotion. Tourism development, policy, ecological impacts, attractions and markets were the five most popular topics. However, listing only these research areas cannot really reveal the potential knowledge contributions to tourism research, apart from knowledge on research overall. We feel that a more specific analysis of these studies would reveal their potential contribution to a wider audience.
There are at least four factors that contribute to a wider audience of tourism studies: culture, institution, society and the environment. All four provide not only a context in which tourism is developed, but also determine how tourism can be developed. Meanwhile, tourism development itself has impacts on these factors. However, these factors are different in China from those in the Western context. The cultural perspectives are well studied (Xu, Din & Packer, 2008; Sofield & Li, 2011). Social aspects, however, has not been fully discussed as a research question in China. Chinese society has experienced a quick and massive change from rural to urban, from production-oriented to a consumption society, and from a closed to an open system. This dramatic change would have a great implication for theories and knowledge developed from Western society in which these same changes occurred over much longer periods of time.
The institutional environment of China is also crucial to understanding the tourism phenomena there, and it is one of the widely addressed topics in this collection of papers on China tourism research, especially through the theme of tourism policy. Comparable to the other factors (culture, society and environment), the unique institutional context in which China’s tourism develops has received the most attention here because the country’s tourism development is very much determined by government policy and institutional reform. China has been undergoing a great shift from a planned economy to a market economy. And although market forces have begun to have an impact on tourism development, the government still plays a dominant role, reflected in the widely used concept of “government-led tourism development strategies” with reference to mainland China.
Yu and Lu (2008) summarized the impacts of Chinese institutions on tourism development based on research published in Tourism Tribune from 1994-2005. They found five major research fields. The first was research on the impacts of institutions, especially the role of government in tourism development in the transition period from a planned to a market economy. In the tourism sector, the leading role of government in tourism development was reinforced and accepted when other sectors attempted to shift to market structures. There are debates on whether the strategy of governance playing the leading role in tourism development should be so dominant. The second institutional research area was the discussion of government intervention in tourism related industries and tourism enterprises. The third field of study included papers on the functions of specific sectors, such as hospitality, travel agencies and tourist attractions.
The fourth field of institutional research in China was on the impacts of the institutions on the utilization and conservation of tourism resources and heritage. This research received the most attention is the discussion of ownership and usage rights over the resources used in tourism production. This issue is of particular interest to tourism because property rights tend to determine the right to use and obtain benefits, efficiency and equality from resources. The last area was the impacts of institutions on regional tourism development. Their overall conclusion is that the institution environment play a key role in Chinese tourism development, at the national scale to the enterprise scale.
Overall, Yu and Lu (2008) showed that studies that include the role of China’s institutions had not occurred as much considering their significant role in the country’s tourism development. The authors also proposed a conceptual framework of institutional analysis, including informal or formal institutions and internal and external institutional dimensions. Based on this model, they found that existing research often treated institutions as an exogenous factor and that issues were often discussed at the macro policy level. There were very few that specified research questions on institutions and tourism at the local community level.
However, since 2008, discussions in China on tourism impacts on local communities from an institutional approach has risen considerably. This is due to several reasons. First, community tourism development has gone through the initial growth stage, and some of the social and economic impacts are now evident. Second, villages have been given more power to govern themselves. It is at the community level that direct election of the village head now takes place and communities are gradually taking more control of their own affairs. Third, together with the influence of the international research, the equality issue and the empowerment of communities in tourism development has begun to attract the attention of China’s tourism researchers. The study of tourism development at the rural community level is of particular importance in understanding modern China because it is at this scale that the complex and dynamic relationships between government, market and communities take effect, and diverse patterns can be found. The significance of institutions in tourism development can therefore be more clearly examined and understood.
The papers in this issue
Seven papers are included in this special collection all of which had previously been published in Chinese. The papers were selected to represent some of the most intriguing tourism geography research published in China, and to make that research more accessible to the English-speaking international research community. Six of these papers examine tourism development at the village scale, presenting different institutional patterns of community tourism, including a comparative study of two ethnic villages. The different development patterns unpacked in these papers are the result of variations in community culture, the property structure of the land, the government’s view of its role, and interventions from national and international experts, among other influences. For instance, the paper on the Tibetan village in Yuben shows strong community control of tourism development and regulations, with its members participating and sharing the benefits of the tourism development process (Zhang, 2014). In the case of Tiantang Village (Han et al., 2014) and Hongcun (Xu, Wan and Fan, 2014), the communities were disempowered in various aspects of their community’s tourism development. However, in the case of Furong village (Weng & Peng, 2014), the villages took action to take back the lands which were sold to outside investors. It can be seen that local governments play roles in tourism management, as regulators, entrepreneurs, managers and facilitators.
These findings also show changes in resident participation patterns in comparison to work in the early 2000s (Wall, 2006; Bao & Sun, 2006). Communities want to take a more active role in the tourism development process, and their interests are not limited to waiting for their share of the benefits. Their demands for a fair institutional arrangement has grown with the expansion of tourism development (Zhuang, Zhu & Deng, 2014). Chen and Bao’s paper (this issue) is included because through the comparative studies of three villages, they concluded that tourism is not the only key factor that determines change in rural China. Although their paper is not specifically on community tourism, the recent rise of large-scale resort development in China will not only change the tourism landscape, but also the rural landscape. This massive resort and real estate development is to a large extent determined by the institutional environment of land development. The inclusion of this paper raises the awareness of international researchers on this particular issue in China.
From an international scholarship perspective, readers may note distinctive writing and research styles in these papers that are characteristic of domestic academic authorship in China. It is generally common for research that undertaken for domestic presentation and consumption (as opposed to international distribution) to engage less with the international literature and theories in conceptually framing the research problem, and to emphasize rich empirical descriptions and analysis. This is an issue within many countries (such as China and Japan) and within regional grouping (such as South America and Germanic Europe), and gives each of these realms a distinctive research personality (cf. AAG, 2014). That research personality may be translated to a more global audience, but only within the parameters set by the culture of international research. Language is a major part of the challenge of internationalizing the richness of China’s tourism research. But even more essential is the need for China’s scholars to more actively engage with the international academy, which is, for better or worse, dominated by Anglo-American English publications (Lew et al., 2014).
With these considerations in mind, we believe that these are interesting research papers, not only for those with particular interests in China, but also as potential contributions that challenge and contribute to existing theories of tourism development and impacts.
Association of American Geographers (AAG) (2014). Publishing for Non-Native English Speakers. Two panel sessions at the annual meeting of the AAG, Tampa, Florida, 11 April. Online at http://news.aag.org/2014/05/aag-2014-tampa-publishing-for-non-native-speakers-of-english-sessions-now-online/
Bao, J.G., Chen, G.H., and Ma, L. (2014) Tourism research in China: Insights from insiders. Annals of Tourism Research, 45, 167–181
Bao, J.G. and Sun, J.X. (2006). The difference of community participation in tourism development between China and the west. Acta Geographica Sinica, 61(4): 401-413. (in Chinese)
Chen, G.H. and Bao, J.G. (2011). Progress on Oversea Studies on China's Tourism: A Review from the Perspective of Academic Contributions. Tourism Tribune, 2, 28-35. (in Chinese)
Chen, G.H. and Bao, J.G. (2014). Path Dependence in the Evolution of Resort Governance Models in China. Tourism Geographies (this issue).
Han, G.; Wu, P.; Huang, Y. and Yang, Z. (2014). Tourism Development and the Disempowerment of Host Residents: Types and Formative Mechanism. Tourism Geographies (this issue).
Huang, S.S. and Hsu, C.H.C. (2008). Recent tourism and hospitality research in China. International Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Administration 9(3): 267–287.
Leung, D.; Li, G.; Fong, L.H.N.; Law, R. and Lo, A. (2013). Current state of China tourism research, Current Issues in Tourism, 17(8): 679-704. DOI: v10.1080/13683500.2013.804497
Lew, A.A. (1987). The History, Policies and Social Impact of International Tourism in the Peoples Republic of China. Asian Profile 15(2, April): 117-28.
Lew, A.A.; Wall, G.; Huang, S.; Wei, X.; Zhang, L.; and Zhang, C. (2014). Discussion Forum of China Tourism Development: China Tourism Research: Domestic and International Perceptions. Tourism Tribune 1: 3-15. (in Chinese)
Sofield, T.H.B. and Li, F.M.S. (2011). Tourism governance and sustainable national development in China: A macro-level synthesis. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 19(4–5): 501–534
Tsang, N.K.F. and Hsu, C.H.C. (2011). Thirty years of research on tourism and hospitality management in China: a review and analysis of journal publications. International Journal of Hospitality Management 30(4): 886–896.
UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). (2009). Tourism 2020 vision. Madrid: UNWTO. Online at http://www.unwto.org/facts/eng/vision.htm.
Xu, H.G.; Ding, P.Y. and Packer, J. (2008). Tourism Research in China: Understanding the Unique Cultural Contexts and Complexities. Current Issues in Tourism, 11(6): 473-491.
Xu, H.; Cui, Q.; Sofield, T. and Li, F.M.S. (2014). Attaining harmony: understanding the relationship between ecotourism and protected areas in China. Journal of Sustainable Tourism. DOI: 10.1080/09669582.2014.902064.
Wall, G. (2006). Insights on Tourism from a Chinese Research Agenda. In J.G. Bao, H.G. Xu and A.A. Lew, eds., Community tourism and border tourism, pp.395-407. Beijing: China Tourism Press.
Weng, S. and Peng, H. (2014). Tourism development, rights consciousness and the empowerment of Chinese historical village communities. Tourism Geographies (this issue).
Xu, H.G.; Wan, X.J. and Fan X.J. (2014). Rethinking authenticity in the implementation of China's heritage conservation: The case of Hongcun Village. Tourism Geographies (this issue).
Yu, F.L. and Lu, L. (2008). A Study Review about the Impact of Institution on Tourism Development and Its Enlightenment, Tourism Tribune 9: 90-96. (in Chinese)
Zhang, X.M. (2014). Tourism and the "Villagers without History": The Case of Yubeng. Tourism Geographies (this issue).
Zhong, L.N,; Wu, B.H. and Morrison, A. (2013). Research on China's Tourism: A 35-Year Review and Authorship Analysis. International Journal of Tourism Research. DOI: 10.1002/jtr.1962. (online only)
Zhuang, X.P.; Zhu, H. and Deng, S. (2014). Institutional Ethics and Resident Perceptions of Tourism in Two Chinese Villages. Tourism Geographies (this issue).
by Dimitri Ioannides, Henrik Halkier & Alan A. Lew
This is the introduction to Tourism Geographies, volume 16 (2014), no. 4, page 535-539; DOI: 10.1080/14616688.2014.947315
This special issue of Tourism Geographies explores the relationships of tourism to economic development from geographical perspectives. Tourism studies, of course, provide significant insights into the cultural identities of people and places (Lew, 2014), as well as human mobilities and life experiences (see the forthcoming Tourism Geographies 16 #5). However, it is the economic importance of tourism to destination livelihoods that drives most of the motivation of entrepreneurs, destination managers, and local and national governments to invest money, time and effort in its development and promotion. As such, it is often the most visible aspect of tourism in public policy discussions and hospitality industry initiatives.
The first half of this special issue defines and expands the conceptual perspective of evolutionary economic geography (EEG) as it applies to tourism, which was originally identified in Tourism Geographies 16 #1 as an emerging research paradigm (Brouder, 2014a). This section was commissioned by the two guest editor of this issue, with all of the accepted papers having been submitted to a double blind review process. The second group of papers were submitted independently by authors and included in this issue because of their focus on economic development. Although not explicitly EEG in their conceptual frameworks, they provide a broad understanding of the relationship between tourism and the economies of destination places. An EEG perspective can give readers even further insights into these geographic studies of tourism development from across the globe.
Tourism dynamics through the lens of evolutionary economic geography
The evolutionary nature of tourism resorts has long been a topic of preoccupation for scholars, including geographers and regional scientists. In the early 1960s, Walter Christaller (1963) argued that a resort's development progresses through predictable stages and a number of scholars at that time attempted to theorize various aspects of how places change through time as they relate to both tourists and destinations. Undoubtedly, the most noted contribution on how destinations develop, decline or become revitalized has been Butler's (1980) Tourism Area Life Cycle (TALC). In over 30 years this model has been used in numerous studies, including those emphasizing spatial perspectives (Hall & Page, 2009), and both its strengths and its shortcomings have been analyzed in depth (Butler, 2006a, 2006b).
A fundamental problem with evolutionary perspectives of resort development, such as these, is their heavy reliance on single case studies, failing to offer explicit assessments as to the detailed endogenous and exogenous mechanisms triggering changes in particular destinations (Brouder & Eriksson, 2013). Arguably they also perform poorly when taking into account both spatial and historic contingencies that may have varying influences on different destinations.
Recently, Ma and Hassink (2013) have pointed out that the TALC framework would benefit markedly by incorporating key concepts that have been fleshed out in what has been termed one of the latest ‘turns’ in economic geography, namely that of EEG (see also Brouder & Eriksson, 2013). Simply stated, EEG provides a fresh perspective, borrowed from evolutionary economics (Nelson & Winter, 1982), for exploring regional development issues, which have long been a theme of interest in economic geography (Boschma & Frenken, 2006). To be sure, although thinking in an evolutionary way is hardly new in economic geography, it is the large amount of attention that concepts such as path dependence, the origins of entrepreneurs, prior experience, and knowledge transfer that has led to the marriage of economic geography to evolutionary economics for better understanding economic space (Coe, 2010).
Among its goals, EEG seeks to explain the appearance and evolution of spatial clusters, not as a result of rational decisions but due to the accumulation of knowledge that over time emerge in organizational routines (Boschma & Frenken, 2006). The approach postulates that in any given locality the survival or failure of companies depends on the knowledge gathered by entrepreneurs. For instance, if one starts up a firm following years of experience-gathering in a similar line of business one is likelier to see the firm succeed. This happens because ‘the routines of the old firm are successfully transferred to the new firm which increases the staying power of the entrant’ (Brouder & Eriksson, 2012, p. 4).
This incorporation of EEG to better understand how tourism evolves through time and influences regional development offers a promising avenue of research and theory building in the economic geography of tourism (Halkier & Therkelsen, 2013; Ioannides & Debbage, 1998, 2014). Specifically, it goes a long way in terms of reinvigorating a political economy approach in tourism research, especially by seeking to better account for agency, various levels of power, and capital accumulation in destination regions (Bianchi, 2012; Britton, 1991; Gibson, 2008).
The acknowledgement of the promise that EEG holds for gaining a superior understanding of a tourism region's evolutionary dynamics served as the foundation for the organization of three special sessions related to the theme of tourism and EEG at the 2013 annual conference of the Association of American Geographers (AAG) in Los Angeles, California (9–13 April). It was here that the idea for creating a special issue of Tourism Geographies on this important topic was launched and discussed and as such, the four EEG-centered articles that start off this special issue originated from presenters at that conference.
The main driver behind the organization of the AAG research presentation sessions was Dr Patrick Brouder, who also made a solid case for launching this special issue of the journal. It is, therefore, appropriate that he should commence this special issue with an overview article where he examines eight papers (including three in this issue) that have explicitly explored links between EEG and tourism in recent years (Brouder, 2014b).
From our own perspective we believe the emergence of EEG offers a truly exciting opportunity for reinvigorating the study of tourism through the lens of economic geography. Importantly, we are convinced that this new avenue of research is important in terms of legitimizing and strengthening the theoretical underpinnings of tourism's role in regional economic development. Although the papers in the second half of this special issue were not written with the EEG framework in mind, we believe that the EEG perspective that is clearly laid out in theory and empirical research in the first half of this issue provides an insightful expansion on the more traditional economic development frameworks found in the second half of the book.
For example, Hillmer-Pegram (2014) uses a resilience framework to identify the underlying influences shaping the dive economy of the US Virgin Islands, which were found to include operator relations to both the local social-political system and global economies, a changing ecosystem, and operator knowledge structures. Similar models of the role of local actor networks and knowledge transfers are analyzed in this issue of Tourism Geographies for community economies in Thailand (King & Dinkoksung, 2014), Cambodia (Mao, Grunfeld, DeLacy, & Chandler, 2014), and Ghana (Adam & Amuquandoh, 2014). These types of phenomena readily lend themselves to EEG modes of analysis. In a different focus, Yrigoy (2014) examines how capital accumulation has shaped the development trajectory of Spanish resorts, and at a different scale, Sánchez-Rivero and Cárdenas-García (2014) identify how fundamental characteristics of a destination's population influence regional tourism development paths, which has implications for more effective economic policy formation.
Tourism does not exist in isolation as an economic activity and is embedded in numerous highly complex internal and external networks. As such, understanding tourism's relations to places and regions is a challenging task. We sincerely hope that readers of the contributions in this special issue find them both intellectually stimulating and are able to use them as a basis for instigating further fruitful and insightful dialog on the relations among tourism, development, and place.
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6. Brouder, P. (2014b). Evolutionary economic geography and tourism studies: extant studies and future research directions. Tourism Geographies, 16(4), 540–545.
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