There are new and exciting developments within the School of Tourism with ground breaking research identifying the fusion between recreation, leisure and wellbeing. The rationale for co-locating a tourism and public health strategy is based on the recognition that creating a community culture where a tourist destination is seen to enhance and promote physical and mental health for both locals and tourists is desirable. A community that supports health creation can be a re-branding opportunity within a destination management approach, dovetailing health and wellbeing alongside a marketing and economic positioning. The concept of wellness tourism is emerging and is an area where strategic priority is being given in many European destinations. It is estimated that the market is currently worth $106.0 globally1 with predictions of major growth in the coming 5-10 years2.
Figures show that there are about 289 million wellness consumers’1 and trends due to an aging world population, failing conventional medical systems and increased globalization will ensure continued growth. Policy documents from the WHO, Health 2020 and data from the British Leisure Trends and Slow Tourism Report, 2011, the World Travel Market Global Trends Report, 2010, VisitBritain Foresight, 2010 plus the launch of the international trade alliance, Wellness Tourism Worldwide (2011) dedicated to the development and promotion of wellness tourism, all adds corroborating evidence of currency.
With much debate on aspects of wellbeing, social tourism and inclusion prevalent at both national and local levels, most notably in Bournemouth with the town’s 2026 vision group, there is momentum building in this area3. Promoting public health is a complex task but one than can be aided by other professionals. The whole can be greater than the sum of the parts and where a lack of co-ordination can bring confusion and disharmony. People do not lead their lives in a vacuum; we are all products of our culture, media influences, and the services we consume. There is a complex interrelationship between the individual and wider society, sometimes for good, but often leading to poor health. Much interest was stimulated by our appearance in the Big Ideas for the Future Report4, where Bournemouth University’s research linking tourism and public health was featured. We intend to capitalise on this interest particularly as it represents pan-School collaboration with the School of Health and Social Care and therefore builds on current strengths and expertise. The research output will be of interest to those responsible for policy, strategy and operational practice within the tourism industry and will lead to a greater understanding of this discipline engaging with the wellbeing agenda. Consequently, the societal impact extends beyond a public health perspective to also impact the ability of destinations to leverage health creation in re-branding and marketing, a potential synergy that can contribute to both sustainable health and economic gain.
1SRI International (2010) Spas and the Global Wellness Market, http://csted.sri.com/projects/spas-and-global-wellness-market-synergies-and-opportunities (accessed 07 September 2011)
2 Wellness Tourism Worldwide (2011) Wellness for whom, where and what? Wellness Tourism 2020 http://www.wellnesstourismworldwide.com/uploads/7/2/1/6/7216110/wtw_4wr_phase2_web.pdf (accessed 07 September 2011)
3 Hartwell H., (2011) Can we bring tourism and public health strategy together?, Guardian Professional, Thursday 28 July
4 Research Councils UK (RCUK) and Universities UK (2011) http://www.rcuk.ac.uk/Publications/reports/Pages/BigIdeas.aspx
Professor John Fletcher from the School of Tourism highlights the role of the tourism industry in emergency planning.
Tourism throughout much of the 20th Century following World War II was characterised by strong growth and an ever-reaching spread of countries. However, since the mid-1990s and throughout this first part of the 21st century tourism has been beset by an ever-increasing number of obstacles ranging from health issues, such as SARS, Avian and Swine Flu, natural disasters such as the 2004 Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, and human-induced crises such as the events of 9/11 in the USA, 7/7 in London and the Bali bombings, not to mention the myriad of events related to the Middle East and pressures created by the current global financial crisis.
It is against this backcloth that the world’s largest export industry is being re-moulded and, to some extent finding its strong growth pattern to be faltering, like many other industries. In an attempt to mitigate the damage that crises bring to the tourism industry it is vital that emergency planning agencies and the tourism industry are closely integrated in their approaches to planning for, responding to and recovering from disasters. This is perhaps more true for the tourism industry than any other, because the tourists, the consumers, have to travel out of their normal environment in order to enjoy the output of the industry. The Disaster Management wing of the International Centre for Tourism & Hospitality Research is currently helping the UN WTO develop a framework which will facilitate this integration. In addition to reviewing the literature on emergency planning and tourism crises, the team are currently engaging more than 120 Ministries, Airlines, Tourist Authorities, Tour Operators, Hotel Chains and academics in a Delphi Panel Exercise to establish which functions should be undertaken from a integrated platform. The results of the study will be presented to the UN WTO early next year.
Although a major contributor to life at BU, the study of Tourism is often wrongly maligned as being a niche subject on the periphery of more established areas of study such as Business & Management and Geography. Well, in the UK alone over 100 institutions offer HE courses at undergraduate level including “top tier” universities such as Exeter, Surrey, Strathclyde and Stirling with many more competing for students and staff across Europe and beyond with major concentrations of activity in North America, the Middle East, South East Asia and Australia and New Zealand where tourism is not only a significant area of academic interest but also of valuable income, foreign exchange earnings and employment.
Returning to the UK one of the most significant “coming of age” moments has been the explicit inclusion of Tourism for the very first time in a Unit of Assessment in the forthcoming Research Excellence Framework. Unit 26, Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism is one of only a few new units in the REF, a fact which clearly reflects its growing maturity as an area of academic investigation and the widespread positive recognition with which it is now held across the sector. This recognition really took hold 2 to 3 years ago when the ESRC awarded colleagues at the University of Exeter £1.5 million to set up its research cluster in Sport, Leisure and Tourism, an award which would have been unthinkable only a few years before. Since then, staff from the School of Tourism at BU have been attracting funds from the ESRC, the European Union and the United Nations World Tourism Organization and others while the significant award recently won by colleagues from the School from the EPSRC on sustainable patterns of travel demonstrates the collaborative and inter-disciplinary opportunities offered by Tourism. This latter point was again highlighted recently with the inclusion in the RCUK publication Big Ideas for the Future of a project looking at the fusion between public health and tourism policies at the local level. This was BU’s only entry in this prestigious publication, testament if it were ever needed that the industry that is widely acclaimed as the world’s largest has now also come of age in the academic arena!
Tomorrow, Tuesday 27th September 2011, is World Tourism Day and to celebrate this week on the research blog is Tourism Week. Every day the research blog will be highlighting stories about the excellent work going on in Bournemouth University’s School of Tourism.
World Tourism Day was instigated by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation to foster awareness among the international community of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic values.
“The message on this World Tourism Day is that, thanks to tourism, millions of people from different cultures are being brought together around the world like never before,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. “This interaction between people of different backgrounds and ways of life represents an enormous opportunity to advance tolerance, respect and mutual understanding”.
In 2010, 940 million tourists travelled to a different country, coming into direct contact with tangible – art, monuments – and intangible – music, food, traditions – culture. World Tourism Day 2011 is a celebration of this unique interaction and aims at furthering understanding of the values of cultural diversity.
European Cultural Routes: Believing that in the “niche” market of cultural tourism there is a lot of potential for growth, and believing that EU action could really add value to national, regional and local policies in this field, the overall objective of the present call for proposals is twofold: to contribute to differentiating the European tourism offer, capitalising on the shared cultural heritage; and to contribute integrating both horizontally and vertically the cultural tourism sector, facilitating clusters/networks of both cultural tourism products and enterprises of the cultural tourism sector. Deadline: 07.10.11
Promoting Social Tourism in Europe: The overall objective of this call for proposals is to support the creation of a web-based platform as a mechanism intended to facilitate transnational tourism, particularly within the CALYPSO target groups; to valorise the potential of off-season availability of accommodation; and to increase the competitiveness of tourism SME’s. Deadline: 14.10.11
The Culture Programme promotes transnational mobility of people working in the cultural sector and to promote intercultural dialogue. If you have contacts in this sector, this could be a key opportunity to collaborate and introduce yourself to EU funding. Calls for proposals are released on an annual basis and 3 calls are currently open under the ‘Cultural Service Teams, Youth Workers’
Multinational Cooperation Projects: Funds groups of cultural organisations to develop joint cultural activities over a period of three to five years. Projects will involve a minimum of 6 cultural operators from at least 6 eligible countries. The maximum funding per project is €500k and the deadline is 03.10.11
Cooperation Measures: Funds shorter and smaller-scale joint projects involving cultural organisations from at least three European countries. Projects can last up to 2 years and should involve at least 3 different European countries. Deadline 03.10.11
Support to European Cultural Festivals: funds festivals that support the circulation of cultural works from other European countries. Projects up to €100k are supported and the deadline is 15.11.11
Over the last 10 years I have had the privilege to work on half a dozen European Commission funded projects with a total income of about £1m. Most of them are relating to technology innovations and advantages with a primary focus to tourism and hospitality organisations and regional regions as well as cultural heritage. Getting European funding is complex and requires a lot of work, networking and innovative thinking. Success rates are low and it is quite demanding. Nevertheless there is a great number of benefits that comes with success. These include:
- Cutting edge knowledge of the most cutting edge research problems
- Research that it is relevant to society and has an impact on a European level
- Networking across different disciplines
- Working with colleagues from around Europe
- Funding for research assistants, equipment and travel
- And yes you can travel around and sample the Belgian and not only beers ….
Perhaps the project I enjoyed most as it made me realise the impact that research can do is a recent project which I did when I was still at the University of Surrey. This was about accessible/disabled tourism and I was called to provide expertise on how to deal with information for people with disability that wanted to travel. The project lasted for 2 years and provided a series of key success factor for facilities to use and also guidelines on how those should be systematised for dissemination over the internet. Getting closely involved with people with disabilities and working out on potential solutions opened a whole world for me a
The immediate results of the projects and the other initiatives that emerged are equally impressive:
Although not always easy, involvement with European funded projects are incredibly rewarding for their intellectual stimulation, the exposure to knowledge and networking as well as access to resources. They are also fantastic for impact to society at an international and global scale. We are about to start a new project on Electronic Marketing, mobile phones, location based services, small business and tourism and look forward to cutting edge research.