Covid-19 caused an unexpected shock to the higher education system around the world.  In particular, those delivering tourism education were impacted with immediate effect due to lockdowns and other restrictions on movements but there are likely to be follow-on effects for tourism education into 2020 and beyond in terms of students applying for tourism programmes, how we deliver those tourism programmes and the type of tourism graduates that we develop.  In essence, there is the opportunity for Covid-19 to change tourism higher education.  We are looking to address these issues in our Annual Conference in December and are delighted to announce three Keynote speakers: Professor Richard Butler, Professor Elena Rodriguez-Falcon and Professor Stefan Gössling, who will reflect on the opportunities and different approaches for tourism and tourism education.

The Association for Tourism in Higher Education (ATHE) is the subject association for tourism in higher education in the UK.  Its objectives include promoting the development and recognition of tourism as a subject of study in the UK at foundation degree, undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral levels, and encouraging high standards in learning, teaching and research. To this end, it works with other bodies concerned with higher education in the UK such as the Quality Assurance Agency and Advance HE.  Whilst we are all at individual institutions and very concerned with our own local contexts, we’re also all part of something much bigger and there’s a need to express a collective voice through ATHE even more than ever now.   To this end, we are offering TWO free places per ATHE member institution (for academics or research students).  We see this as a way of supporting one another in difficult times.  There will be a fee per participant for ATHE member institutions wishing to register more than two delegates and for non-members – who are, of course, encouraged to join as members (UK) or associates (outside UK).

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 the decision to hold it on-line for the first time.   There will be two free places for each ATHE member institution.

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


We are delighted to announce our four Keynote Speakers:

Richard Butler is Emeritus Professor at Strathclyde University, Glasgow, and has taught at universities in the UK, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, and Italy. A geographer by training, his research interests include destination development, sustainability, insular and remote regions, and links between tourism and political change and religion. A past president of the International Academy for the Study of Tourism and the Canadian Association for Leisure Studies, he has published over twenty books and a hundred papers on tourism. He has been an advisor to and conducted research for UNWTO and governments in Canada, UK, and Australia. In 2016 he was awarded the Ulysses Medal by UNWTO for excellence in the creation and dissemination of knowledge.  Professor Butler will present a Keynote on Covid-19 & TALC and what this might mean for the tourism industry and tourism education.

Elena Rodriguez-Falcon joined The University of Sheffield in 2001 where she was the founder of the University of Sheffield Enterprise (USE); Institutional Director of Learning Inclusive Learning and Teaching; Director of Enterprise Education and Director of Women in Engineering, going on to become Director of Communications and External Relations of Engineering, whilst holding a Chair in Enterprise and Engineering Education.  In 2012 Elena was one of the first ten in the UK to be awarded the status of Principal Fellow at the Higher Education Academy. Elena is also Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology and of the Chartered Management Institute.  In 2018 Elena became President & CEO of NMITE (New Model Institute for Technology and Engineering https://nmite.ac.uk/about-us) – the most ambitious and radical disruptor in engineering higher education in the UK.  Professor Rodriguez-Falcon will present a Keynote on the new approach to engineering education, their student-centric learning methodology and a curriculum fuelled by real-world challenges.

Stefan Gössling is a Professor at the Department of Service Management, Lund University, and the School of Business and Economics, Linnaeus University, Sweden. He is also the research co-ordinator at the Western Norway Research Institute’s Research Centre for Sustainable Tourism. His main research interest is the sustainability of tourism and transport.  Professor Gössling will present a Keynote on Pandemics, tourism and global change in relation to the tourism industry and tourism education.

Mark Tanzer has been Chief Executive of ABTA since 2005. Over that period, and following its amalgamation with the Federation of Tour Operators, ABTA has consolidated its position as the leading UK travel association with 1,100 corporate members comprising tour operators, cruise companies and travel agents. ABTA offers a broad range of services including financial bonding, health and safety support and business guidance. In addition it has very wide consumer recognition through its customer support and alternative dispute resolution activities. Before joining ABTA, Mark held senior strategy and corporate finance positions in a number of industry sectors. Immediately prior to ABTA, Mark was Group Strategy Director of Centrica plc., the parent company of British Gas.


Organising an on-line conference is certainly a challenge and it eliminates our ability to network over our traditional conference dinner.  Those that have attended ATHE Conferences previously will know it’s normally in an interesting venue with a guided tour thrown in for good measure!  However, being on-line offers us a wonderful opportunity to engage with our international community of tourism educators and to have an alternative ATHE conference dinner.  It’s alternative in that there won’t be any food or drink (unless you bring your own!) so instead of a dinner, we will have a panel of internationally based tourism educators who can share their experiences in relation to the conference theme, Tourism Education in a Fragile World, from their own country perspective.  Our current line-up of panellists includes:

Dr. Geoffrey Bird is a Professor in the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management at Royal Roads University, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Geoff is also the Project Lead of the War Heritage Research Initiative. He has 30 years of experience in tourism and hospitality education, initially working for the provincial government managing post-secondary tourism, hospitality, and culinary programs. Geoff co-created a policy initiative called the Tourism Learning System that was later adopted in four provinces and adapted for the Caribbean. He has also worked overseas in Malaysia and Vietnam to develop and deliver training for community-based tourism.  Serving in various program chair and school director roles, Geoffrey has taught for 18 years in online, in-class, and field study settings. Previous research has included provincial tourism HRD planning, curriculum design, and strategies for an education-tourism destination.  Geoff authored a recently-approved program proposal for graduate tourism management specialisations in social entrepreneurship, disaster and emergency management, and human security.

Dr. Lynn Minnaert is the Academic Director and a Clinical Associate Professor at the Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality at New York University. She completed her doctoral studies at the University of Westminster (London, UK). Prior to joining NYU, she was a Program Leader of the Bachelor of Science in Tourism Management at the University of Surrey (Guildford, UK). Lynn’s research has focused on international tourism policy, social tourism, family tourism, the social legacy of events (MICE events, Olympic Games) and corporate philanthropy in tourism and events. Her research has been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (UK), the European Union, the International Olympic Committee, regional and national tourist boards (e.g. Tourism Flanders; Visit Almaty, Kazakhstan; Discover Dominica) and Meeting Professionals International. She is on the Editorial Board of Hotel and Tourism Management, and on the International Advisory Board for the International Journal of Contemporary Tourism Research. She is Co-President of the International Sociological Association’s RC50 special interest group on Tourism. She is also a board member of the Northeast chapter of the Travel and Tourism Research Association (TTRA).

Dr Carla Ricaurte Quijano is Dean of Postgraduate Studies, and member of the Coastal Marine Tourism Research Group in the Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral, Ecuador. She has a Masters degree in Tourism Studies from the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico, and a PhD from the Centre for Tourism Policy Studies of the University of Brighton, United Kingdom. She has been a consultant for the Ministry of Tourism of Ecuador, as well as other national and international organizations. Her current work focuses on equality on tourism planning and policy with a particular focus on coastal and marine tourism. 

Dr. Roos Gerritsma, associate professor at Inholland University of Applied sciences, is an urban sociologist and experienced leisure and tourism educator and researcher since 2000. She is one of the founding members of the Urban Leisure & Tourism Lab (www.tourismlab.nl) which is based in Amsterdam. Together with colleagues and students, she was able to create learning networks with local and (inter)national partners. Her main interests are: urban tourism, host & guest relationships and inclusive and sustainable placemaking. Currently she is part of the EU Smartdest research project 2020-2022 focusing on in and exclusion processes in relation to tourism.

Professor Nigel Morgan has wide experience of the visitor and sport economy in Sport Wales and UK local government and education and on advisory and charitable boards. He is currently Head of the Surrey School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Member of the Wales Industrial Development Advisory Board and Non-Exec Director of Visit Surrey. He was previously Chair of the Mission Gallery in Swansea, Board Member at Visit Wales and has held professorial positions in Cardiff Met, Swansea, Tromso, Sunderland and Milan. Nigel writes on the intersections of tourism and social sustainability and equity and has given evidence on tourism to the Welsh and European Parliaments. He is a Fellow of the International Academy for the Study of Tourism, the Tourism Society and Royal Society of Arts.

Professor Brian King is Associate Dean at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. He was previously in Melbourne, Australia where he was Head of the School of Hospitality & Tourism and later Pro Vice-Chancellor at Victoria University. Originally from Scotland, his current specialisations are tourism and culture in Asia and hospitality leadership. He has published on integrated resorts, marketing, VFR travel and Asia-Pacific tourism. He is Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Tourism, Culture & Communication. His industry experience includes manager and/or director roles in airlines, tour operations, destination management, cruise operations and hotels. He has held visiting professorships in Europe, USA and the Pacific and is a Fellow of the International Academy for the Study of Tourism and of the International Association of China Tourism Studies. He comments regularly on media about tourism issues.

Dr Shelagh Mooney is Associate Professor and Hospitality Postgraduate Program Leader at Auckland University of Technology, Aotearoa-New Zealand, with expertise in building positive organisational cultures, sustainable human resources management and career construction in tourism through higher education in Europe and New Zealand. Moving beyond management perspectives that dominate hospitality scholarship, Shelagh’s field work provides empirical detail about neglected areas of hospitality employment, within the global context of migration and labour market patterns. Focusing on young people’s employment outcomes, gendered workplace norms and sustainable workforce issues led Shelagh to establish research collaborations with researchers in  Australia and the United Kingdom. Her recent supervisions have explored New Zealand’s protection for interns against sexual harassment and the effect of Covid-19 on women’s employment in tourism in New Zealand.


As is our usual format, the Friday programme has an industry focus, including the ATHE Awards for Innovation.  In keeping with the overall conference theme. Our industry panel will be discussing the extent to which the challenges of Covid-19 have created opportunities to do things differently in this fragile world:

Rochelle Turner is the Head of Research & Insight at MaCher, a sustainable design firm, a B Corp and a signatory and participant in the United Nations Global Compact. In her role, she applies research to help solve client’s business or marketing challenges. She is particularly focused on ethical consumption both in terms of gaining greater understanding of why consumers purchase in the way that they do and in supporting the evidence base for how businesses can benefit through adopting more sustainable practices. Rochelle is a keen sustainability advocate and has completed the Climate Reality Leadership Corps training to help lead the global fight for climate solutions. She has spent her career conducting consumer, economic, market and policy research within the tourism sector and has had senior roles at MORI (now Ipsos-MORI), TUI, Which?, the UK’s consumer organisation, and most recently, as VP Research & Sustainability at WTTC, the World Travel & Tourism Council.  MaCher – A Certified B Corp since 2014, MaCher partners with brands to help them express who they are, designing thoughtful products and meaningful solutions that get them noticed. Using our business as a force for good, we have a focus on helping brands transition away from single use plastics and virgin materials. In 2019, 96% of our products were reusable and our goal is 100% by 2023. We know testing, compliance and risk mitigation inside and out as well as your legal exposure. We take it very seriously, that’s why we are industry leaders in driving systemic improvements in global supply chain management. We are proud to be members of the Supplier Ethical Data Exchange. We also adhere to Prop 65, CCPSA, CPSIA and REACH requirements. All of our suppliers meet ISO SA8000 standards, which is the United Nations universally accepted doctrine on human rights. Additionally, we proactively engage our supply partners in transparent progress on sustainability reporting. We make better things, to make things better (www.macher.com).   

Andrew Campbell is currently Chair of the Wales Tourism Alliance, Vice Chair of Pembrokeshire Tourism and also undertakes tourism consultancy work for the public and private sectors. Until September 2017 he was Head of School of Tourism at the University of Wales Trinity St David. A former Hotel Management graduate, Andrew has spent most of his professional life within the academic world, both teaching and working in a training and consultancy capacity. He has been involved and lead on much tourism related academic programme development both within the UK and overseas: sits on a number of industry associated committees and makes regular media contributions about tourism. In his spare time he is often to found walking the Pembrokeshire Coast Path close to his home in Goodwick, together with jumping in the sea throughout the year.

Rebecca Brooks is Managing Director of Abbey UK, a Leading Destination Management company and part of the Abbey Group, with offices in Edinburgh, London and Dublin. A graduate of St Andrews University graduating in Modern History, Rebecca has worked in international inbound tourism since 2001. Rebecca is an Executive Director and co-owner of the Abbey Group, a non Executive Director of the Scottish Tourism alliance as well as a non executive Director on the Visitscotland board. Rebecca is also a former chair of the Scottish Destination Management Association.

Prior to launching his York-based marketing consultancy, The Tourism Business, Martin Evans’ career included positions as Marketing Director at Yorkshire Tourist Board (now Welcome to Yorkshire) and Head of Marketing at Consort Hotels Group (now Best Western UK). Since its launch, The Tourism Business has built up an impressive public and private sector client list, comprising over 150 of the UK’s leading destinations, attractions, hotels and leisure companies.  Projects that The Tourism Business undertakes for destinations include tourism marketing strategies, marketing and screen-tourism campaigns, co-ordination of funding bids for DMOs and tourism associations, and hotel futures strategies/hotel sector feasibilities. The Tourism Business also runs national conferences for tourism businesses, including the National Hotel Marketing Conference and the National Attractions Marketing Conference.  Martin holds a Postgraduate Diploma in International Marketing and is a Fellow of the Tourism Society.


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 for doctoral students to present their work in 3-5 minute presentation (for further poster guidelines click here).


We know that universities will continue to face disruption, with pressure on incomes and budgets. Therefore, 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 have chosen a virtual conference partly as we can offer it as a subscription benefit to ATHE members, with a total of TWO free places per ATHE member institution (for academics or research students).  We see this as a way of supporting one another in difficult times.

There will be a fee per participant for ATHE member institutions wishing to register more than 2 delegates and 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

Please send abstracts using the form attached (click here) to conference@athe.org.uk by 30th October 2020