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Progress in Tourism Studies

I have been at a conference on Progress in Tourism Studies in Leuven at the Catholic University organised to celebrate the work of Professor Myriam Jansen-Verbeke, she has had a distinguished career producing excellent work on cultural tourism and particularly on cultural landscapes.

Jafar Jafari was there reflecting on ?hindsight and foresight in the field of tourism? ? Myriam was for many years on the editorial board of Annals of Tourism Research. Jafari’s presentation celebrated the achievement in tourism studies and drew parallels between the growth of the industry and of academia’s interest in it. Jafari pointed out that tourism had to overcome ?iron walls? and to mount barricades to establish the subject.

Jafar made a trenchant critique of practice in tourism studies and the way in which tourism has confined itself to a silo, my word not his. He used the word inbreeding, pointing out that tourism academics have taught tourism too much ?in itself?, that we have hired our own, published in our own journals and spoken at our own conferences. Jafar’s argument that tourism studies has taken place in a silo and that there has been too much self-reverencing is undeniable.

The argument is all the more powerful when it is made by the founding editor and Editor in Chief of Annals of Tourism Research, the subject’s leading journal, for 35 years. It is rare to hear such reflective self criticism, one can only admire Jafar’s honesty.

For an international centre it is essential that we engage with the international academic community, to hear what other academics have to say to international audiences and to ensure that we stay abreast of the work of our peers. The journals provide the finished output but few journals offer an opportunity for genuine dialogue and none can offer the opportunity to discuss and debate face-to-face. It is through attendance at international conferences that it is possible to keep abreast of the latest thinking and to explore the opportunity to develop new relationships.

In Leuven I was able to meet with and talk with some of the world’s leading scholars in Tourism Studies, scholars I had not previously met: Geoffrey Wall from Canada, Jafar Jafari formerly editor of Annals of Tourism Research, Greg Ashworth from Groningen, Kit Jenkins form Glasgow and to renew acquaintance with Raoul Bianchi, now at East London and Ren?e van der Duim at Wageningen. Ko Koens one of our PhD students was there too, networking and talking with the participants about his research and looking for opportunities in the future. Lieve Coppin was there, I had last seen her in Peru ten years ago ? an opportunity to talk about progress there and SNV’s work in South America. A great deal of knowledge gained in two days.

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