Covid-19 will change our world. It will reinforce growing scepticism about globalisation, marketisation and the possibility and desirability of endless economic growth. And by highlighting our world’s fragility it will emphasise the theme of our 2019 conference, Tourism Education for an Uninhabitable Earth, which focused on the critical issue of climate change, the fragility of tourism and what that means for the tourism curriculum. In 2020, the global fragility of tourism has never been more apparent, as impacts of the epidemic have emphasised both the industry’s importance, and its vulnerability as people and ‘planes are immobilised, whilst borders and controls are re-erected. We should expect a different tourism to emerge, shaped by falling disposable incomes, increased social solidarity, travellers’ greater desire for safety and peace of mind, disrupted supply chains, stronger regulatory states, increased use of technology – and awareness of economic, social and environmental vulnerability. Tourism education is fragile too and must respond – which makes this year’s conference even more important – and has led us to take an early decision to hold it on-line for the first time. It will be free to ATHE members.

Tourism has consistently been touted as an income generator, employment creator and international growth sector; as such, tourism education is often rooted in conventional business and management subjects.   So why has it taken a global pandemic to create wider awareness of the fragility of the industry and the tidal effect this causes for destinations, local communities, tourism businesses, education and tourists?  We ask whether this is the end of a ‘golden era’ and what does post-COVID-19 tourism education need to consider?  So, this year our pedagogic and research themes, as well as our Doctoral Colloquium, focus on tourism education in a fragile world. 

Could tourism bounce back and re-emerge in something like its old form when economic recovery of some sort begins, or will the pandemic foster something different?  As tourism educators and researchers what is our role? Can we lead the development of a new tourism, more sensitive to its impacts, more resilient, perhaps smaller in its extent and more local – or should we simply try to reinstate business as usual? How will we respond to technology that is being driven at pace by the pandemic? Will enforced familiarity with virtual meetings mean less business tourism and fewer visits to friends and relations? How will curricula reflect these changes? Will course delivery change substantially? How do we encourage a collaborative approach between education and industry to help graduates prepare for, adapt to and manage a more resilient tourism?  What are the implications for tourism education itself – which grew as an optimistic subject in optimistic times?

Questions like these frame our 2020 conference on Tourism Education in Fragile World 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, Government Partners and/or Local Communities
  • Professional Development


Tourism Education in a Fragile World is a broad theme and we welcome delegates’ perspectives on the challenges and opportunities that teaching Tourism offers in all realms of Higher Education. We encourage 150-word abstracts that cover any aspect related to the overall conference theme, for example:

  • Accelerated use of technology in the tourism industry
  • Accelerated use of technology in tourism education
  • Accessibility
  • Brexit
  • Climate change
  • Community regeneration
  • Fairer tourism
  • Globetrotting .v. Staycation
  • Greater regulation in tourism
  • Greater technology focus in tourism curriculum
  • Health .v. Wealth
  • Industry and destination resilience
  • Mobility
  • Political crises
  • Poverty .v. Luxury
  • (Re)Distribution of wealth
  • Social entrepreneurship
  • Social tourism
  • The impacts of COVID-19
  • Tourism supply chains


The doctoral colloquium will continue to run, aiming to encourage 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 based on the main theme of the conference.  During the conference, there will be a virtual poster session.


We want to minimise uncertainty in these difficult times, so we have decided that this year’s conference will be virtual. That provides an exciting opportunity to experiment with new ways of meeting and interacting together. One advantage is that we can introduce a stronger international element without increasing costs and carbon emissions.

We plan panel discussions with tourism educators across Europe and further afield and are exploring cooperation with other universities which have asked to act as hubs. We will release further details as we develop our ideas.  We know that universities will continue to face disruption, with pressure on incomes and budgets. We have chosen a virtual conference partly as we can offer it as a subscription benefit to ATHE members.  There will be no additional charges for members to take part in the conference. We see this as a way of supporting one another in difficult times. There will be a fee per participant for non-members – who are, of course, encouraged to join as members (UK) or associates (outside UK).

Please send abstracts using the form attached (click here) to by 1st October 2020