Covid-19 has changed our world.  Whilst the pandemic emphasised the global economic significance of tourism, as well as its importance for health and wellbeing, the simultaneous impact on supply and demand illustrated the vulnerability of tourism.  Lockdowns kept people at home with millions of jobs furloughed and businesses in the tourism supply chain at risk.  It is anticipated that when tourism businesses reopen, the majority will be operating with social distancing measures and lower capacities – reducing working hours and productivity and threatening viability.  This is likely to be compounded by changes in tourist behaviour and travel decision-making due to concerns about ‘Covid-19 safe’ environments and a heightened awareness of risk more generally.

So, we may see a new era of cautious consumption and provision.  If so, will this shape a different tourism and how will this influence the post-COVID-19 tourism curricula?  Whilst technology has long been an important enabler for travel and tourism; the role of technology proved even more significant during the pandemic and allowed engagement in (virtual) travel and leisure activities. At the same time, businesses, government and education rapidly went virtual to keep operating, cramming years of change into a few months, and showing the possibilities of doing things differently. Yet, although that technical change and learning cannot be undone, there are concerns over the digital divide and how technology impacts on the delivery of tourism education, as well as tourism’s cultural exchange and social interaction.  As tourism educators and researchers what is our role?

  • How can we develop a more technology enabled hybrid approach to tourism education that creates a better student experience?
  • How far should the structure of tourism programmes in higher and further education be reconsidered in light of changes to consumption and provision?
  • How do we encourage critical thinking amongst graduates but also respond to government policy on higher education being linked to careers and training?
  • How do we encourage a collaborative and relevant approach between education and industry to help graduates prepare for and build professional networks for a post-COVID-19 tourism industry – in which work and tourism have become hybrid activities? How do approaches compare across countries?

Questions like these frame our 2021 conference on Hybrid and Virtual Experiences:  Opportunity or Threat for Tourism Education and Industry? and so we are seeking pedagogic, research and doctoral colloquium abstract submissions covering but not limited to:

  • Curriculum Development
  • The Learning Experience
  • Assessment Strategies
  • Collaboration with Industry, International Partners, Government Partners and/or Local Communities
  • Professional Development


The doctoral colloquium enables doctoral students to present at an established conference and get constructive feedback in a friendly, supportive (virtual) environment.  Doctoral students are invited to submit a 150-word poster abstract and during the conference, there will be a virtual poster session for doctoral students to present their work in a poster format in a 5-10 minute presentation.


Hybrid and Virtual Experiences:  Opportunity or Threat for Tourism Education and Industry? is a broad theme and we welcome delegates’ perspectives on the challenges and opportunities that teaching Tourism during the pandemic offers in all realms of Higher Education.  We encourage 150-word abstracts that cover any aspect related to the overall conference theme, for example:

Hybrid Teaching & Pedagogy

Future of the Tourism Industry

  • Accelerated use of technology in tourism education
  • Accessibility
  • Developing Communities of Practice
  • Digital pedagogy and capability
  • Employability development
  • Equality, diversity and inclusion
  • International collaboration
  • New paradigms for a new tourism: tourism for good
  • Social entrepreneurship
  • Student experiences of hybrid teaching
  • The impacts of COVID-19
  • Transformative tourism education
  • Virtual tourism education
  • Wellbeing
  • Accelerated use of technology in the tourism industry
  • Accessibility
  • Climate change
  • Community building and regeneration
  • Domestic tourism v International tourism
  • Greater regulation in tourism
  • Health v wealth
  • Industry and destination resilience
  • (Re)Distribution of wealth
  • The impacts of COVID-19
  • Tourism supply chains
  • Transformative tourism
  • Virtual tourism
  • Wellbeing


We are delighted to announce our Keynote Speakers & Panellists:

Dr. Ulrike Gretzel is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Public Relations, University of Southern California. Dr. Gretzel’s research spans the design and evaluation of intelligent systems, as well as the development and implications of artificial intelligence. Her work in tourism addresses ways in which tourists engage with each other and with tourism organizations through websites, mobile apps and social media, and has analyzed how tourism experiences are represented and marketed online. She studies social media marketing, influencer marketing and the emerging reputation economy. She has also researched smart tourism development, technology adoption and non-adoption in tourism organizations and the quest for digital detox experiences. Dr. Gretzel has published over 100 peer-reviewed journal articles. She is frequently acknowledged as one of the most cited authors in the fields of tourism and persuasion and is a fellow of the International Academy for the Study of Tourism.

Professor Susanne Becken will present a Keynote on The practice of virtual meetings and experiences – a necessary shift in response to Covid and the climate crisis. Susanne Becken is a Vice Chancellor Research Fellow at the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom. She also holds a position as Professor of Sustainable Tourism at Griffith University in Australia and Principal Science Investment Advisor (Visitor) in the Department of Conservation, New Zealand. She is a member of the Air New Zealand Sustainability Advisory Panel,  a Fellow of the International Academy of the Study of Tourism and the 2019 UNWTO Ulysses Award winner.

Sally Empson has been a professionally qualified tourist guide (London Blue Badge guide) since 1991. She established a training company in 2001 and has been involved with all aspects of tourist guide training since.

Dr Ina Reichenberger is a Senior Lecturer and Head of Tourism Management at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. As an award winning tertiary educator, she expands her research on how tourists engage and connect with each other and their environment into the learning and teaching space, most recently focusing on the impact of Covid-19 on tertiary tourism education, specifically student perceptions and strategies.

Lisa Rowbotham, Tourism Course Leader at Runshaw College, Lancashire. Lisa has 18 years of experience teaching across Level 2, 3 and 4. She is unbelievably enthusiastic about the tourism industry and this excitement, enthusiasm and boundless energy is passed to both her learners and her teaching team. She is constantly looking at ways to create engaging lessons and design alternative assessment methods which enhance learners’ knowledge, develop skills and encourage them to strive to be the best they can be.  She is ever willing to be part of new initiatives, pilot programmes and is constantly looking for new opportunities and experiences to continually move both her course and learners forward.

Dr. Pilar (Pitu) Espeso-Molinero is a faculty member at the University of Alicante (Spain), where she teaches Cultural Heritage and Tourism Anthropology while coordinating the Anthropology Area at the Contemporary Humanities Department. Her research concerns the potential of Indigenous tourism operators to design and implement tourism products, capitalizing on their own culture and local resources. She has specialized in adult education and capacity development programs, incorporating creativity tools and innovative methods to her workshops and online courses. She has organized professional and adult programs for NGOs, Development Agencies and local and national governments. Prior to her academic career, Pitu Espeso-Molinero has engaged in various aspects of the tourism and travel industry ranging from hotel operations to international tourism planning and development.  Some of the signature entities with which she has worked include Disneyland Paris, Park Lane Hilton Hotel, the Museum of Natural History, US National Park Service, the Spanish Agency for Development (AECID) and many other international organizations with projects in Cambodia, China, Laos, Guatemala, Colombia, Bolivia and Rumania. Her fluency in five different languages has enabled her to live and work in six countries, contributing to her keen sense of cultural practices. Dr. Espeso-Molinero holds an International PhD (Hons) in Tourism Planning from the University of Alicante, a Master of Science degree in Tourism and Travel Management (Hons) from the Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management at New York University and a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Contemporary History and Geography from the Valladolid University, Spain.

Dr. Emmet McLoughlin is the Programme Director for Undergraduate Tourism Programmes at Cardiff Metropolitan University. Dr McLoughlin’s research interests include data-driven approaches to sustainability, indicators of sustainability and sustainable planning for tourism and events. Current research is focused around, data-driven approaches to both event management and hospitality housekeeping, AI and robotics in outdoor leisure settings and place based sustainable development and regeneration in Wales.

Marion Stuart-Hoyle has worked in higher education for nearly 30 years and has spent the majority of her career at Canterbury Christ Church University where she is Director of Tourism, Hospitality and Events.  Her early research and PhD focused upon Tourism curriculum development in UK universities at the time the Subject Benchmarks were first introduced.  This work introduced her to the work of the National Liaison Group for Tourism in Higher Education (NLG), now ATHE, and she was an elected member of the Association from 2001, Chair from 2012-2015 and Emeritus Fellow shortly after. More recently her focus has been on the student experience and she is currently undertaking research into the ‘applicant to alumni journey’ with a focus on transitions into, and through higher education. Further work focuses on the embedding of employer-designed and mentored projects into the undergraduate and postgraduate curriculum.

Friday Panel Discussion

Sally Empson has constantly tried to look ahead for trends and opportunities for expanding guiding in London and was instrumental in connecting qualified guides with the Olympic Delivery Authority in 2009 to work in partnership to maximise the potential of the domestic market prior to and after the London 2012 Games. This proved unbelievable successful. Her company trained over 450 Blue Badge guides, plus many ODA and LOCOG staff helping them present the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to the general public and Stakeholders. After the demise of the Regional Tourist Boards (1991-2000), she was a founder member of the Institute of Tourist Guiding which took over the RTB role in professional guiding nationwide to ensure the highest possible standards. She was on the team which wrote the National Occupational Standards for tourist guiding in 2004. She represented the Institute on People First (the Sector Skills Council). She is currently an Institute of Tourist Guiding Board member and on the Qualifications Board.

Shaon Talukder, CEO of Geotourist, and hailed as the “Future of Travel-Tech”, Shaon with Geotourist, is referenced and published by a leading professor of Digital Economies at Warwick Business School and featured in independent agency reports: TechNation Report 2021 for creating a disruptive business model for sustainable tourism economic development; “Future Trends”, by Visit Britain; and cited as “Game-Changing Technology” by Euromonitor International. With active roles including, Director of The Tourism Society, Tourism Management Institute and Assoc. Member of The World Travel and Tourism Council, Shaon leads a diverse, multi award-winning team that spans the globe from USA to India. Together, they have embarked on the challenge of building an audio-map of the world to preserve stories in location, forever. Having been involved with some of the smallest, and largest projects in the world, Shaon now shares unique data-driven insights on visitor experience and place-making strategies with destinations wishing to grow their micro and macro tourism economies through authentic storytelling. Shaon recently received a World Responsible Tourism Award for helping “Destinations Build Back Better Post-Covid.”

Annalisa Ponchia, Director of Innovation & Customer Experience, Director of International Congress Development AIM Group International. She joined AIM Group International as Director of Innovation and Customer Experience and was further appointed Director of International Congress Development, to develop a new compelling narrative to widen outreach and increase the company’s visibility, with respect to the wide network of offices and presence worldwide. Annalisa has over 30 years of international experience in events management and deep roots in the meeting industry, having organized conferences and events around the globe for the corporate sector, government, and associations. She spent nearly 12 years guiding the ESOT (European Society for Organ Transplantation) as CEO during which she gained substantial knowledge of the association environment and processes. Her career includes the previous 10 years of experience as an entrepreneur running her own PCO company specialised in medical meetings. Ponchia is a certified meeting professional, with CMP and CMM designations, and is active as a speaker at numerous association and industry events.

Paul Williams, with an academic career spanning 30 years where he taught, researched and undertook consultancy work around tourism marketing, destination management, place-making and cultural-led regeneration, Paul Williams was seconded to Stoke-on-Trent City Council to work on its UK City of Culture bid. Previously, he was the senior examiner for the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s professional diploma in tourism and hospitality marketing, and as the Head of Professional Development for the Tourism Management Institute, Paul was actively involved in the development of the Institute’s higher education course recognition scheme and also a member of the QAA review group for the Subject Benchmark Statement for Events, Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism. Through his culture and tourism advisory work, as a board member of Destination Staffordshire and as Chair of the Cultural Destinations Partnership, Paul continues to help shape the city’s broader cultural and creative sector development and visitor economy regionally, nationally and internationally.

Dr. Daniel W. M. Wright is a lecturer in tourism management at the University of Central Lancashire. Daniel has a PhD in post-disaster tourism management and development. He has published widely about tourism futures in the academic literature, using futurology as a transdisciplinary field of study to forecast, anticipate, and provoke the future of tourism in global visitor economies. Daniel is a member of the Institute for Dark Tourism Research (iDTR), as well as an Editorial Board member for the Journal of Tourism Futures. He teaches tourism-related subjects at the undergraduate and postgraduate level.


We appreciate that institutions are continuing to face disruption, with pressure on incomes and budgets. Therefore, we have decided that, following the positive experience of our 2020 virtual conference, this year’s conference will again be virtual.  As in 2020, we can offer the conference as a subscription benefit to ATHE members, with a total of TWO free places per ATHE member institution (for academics or research students).  (there will be a fee per participant for ATHE member institutions wishing to register more than 2 delegates). There will be a fee for non-members – who are, of course, encouraged to join as members (UK) or associates (outside UK).

We appreciate that institutions are continuing to face disruption, with pressure on incomes and budgets. Therefore, we have decided that, following the positive experience of our 2020 virtual conference, this year’s conference will again be virtual.  As in 2020, we can offer the conference as a subscription benefit to ATHE members, with a total of TWO free places per ATHE member institution (for academics or research students).  (there will be a fee per participant for ATHE member institutions wishing to register more than 2 delegates). There will be a fee for non-members – who are, of course, encouraged to join as members (UK) or associates (outside UK).

Fee for Non-members & ATHE members registering more than 2 delegates:

  • £50 for 1 academic; £95 for 2 academics from the same institute
  • £25 for 1 research student; £45 for 2 research students from the same institute
  • £70 for a combined option of 1 Academic and 1 research student from the same institute

Conference Bursary for Lower-Income Countries

We recognise that the pandemic has had a particularly severe impact on lower income countries.  We will therefore offer five free places to academics who could not otherwise afford to attend.  We do this on a trust basis and do not require you to provide proof, but a short statement (150 words maximum) must be provided by the 31st October 2021 explaining how Covid-19 has impacted either your country/destination or tourism education at your institution and why, therefore, you need a free place.  Places will be allocated on the case made by the applicant and the decision of the ATHE Executive Committee will be final.

Please send abstracts by email to by 31st October 2021


ATHE journal partners