President's Message

Dear Academy Fellows:

In the last few months the world has experienced a number of seismic events that are likely to produce a huge impact on not just local, but also global tourism development: Cornona virus, Brexit, and the demonstrations in Hong Kong.

Inbound and outbound travel to and from China has been almost completely disrupted during the last few weeks and will most likely continue to be so for the next 3-6 months. It is worth noting that, in 2019, China inbound tourist arrivals reached 143 million with an increase of 1% over the same period last year, while the demand of China outbound tourism has grown continuously for a number of years. It was recently reported that the number of China outbound trips reached 166 million (+11%) with a value of more than $100 trillion in 2019. Thousands of flights around the world have been cancelled. While this will have a beneficial impact on CO2 emissions, it's bad for the tourism economy in many parts of the world and particularly in China. The country will probably take a long time to recover from this disaster.

So two important questions are: how can we as tourism researcher contribute to rapidly overcome the economic damage caused by the coronavirus? And, what can we learn from the recent disruptions to the global village?

Despite the many challenges we were facing at the Academy's Head Office in Hong Kong, during the last few months, the Academy Executive Committee managed to continue working on the election procedure of new Fellows and organization of our next Conference in 2021.

It is my great pleasure to announce that Academy Fellows have voted in eleven new members. Please join me in congratulating the following new Fellows: Aliza Fleischer, Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Alan Fyall, University of Central Florida; Heather Gibson, University of Florida; Jürgen Gnoth, University of Otago; Ulrike Gretzel, University of Southern California; Tazim Jamal, Texas A&M University; SooCheong (Shawn) Jang, Purdue University; Scott McCabe, Nottingham University; Nigel Morgan, University of Surrey; Youcheng Wang, University of Central Florida; and Honggang Xu, Sun Yat-sen University. All eleven are outstanding candidates who are true world leaders in their respective fields. They will have a strong and immediate impact on the Academy.

Thanks to all those of you who did vote. It was somewhat disappointing that only 29, or roughly half of all Fellows, cast a ballot. Unfortunately, the revision of the bylaws has not helped to overcome the lack of interest among some Fellows in the election process.

Finally, we are pleased to announce that the Prof. Van der Borg (KU Leuven), the Leuven Convention Bureau and Visit Flanders will host the 2021 Conference of the International Academy for the Study of Tourism in Leuven, Belgium. The tentative dates are May 23 - 28, 2021.

The decision-making process was quite extensive as we considered a number of impressive proposals. Indeed, the vote by the Academy Fellows indicated varied interests but Leuven and Jamaica were the most highly rated. Interestingly, in this case 52 Fellows and Fellows emeriti (68%) participated in our survey. Further analysis of these two sites shows that Leuven is comparatively lower in terms of room costs, minimizes airline distances for Academy Fellows (and therefore generates lower carbon emissions), is highly accessible to many other European universities, and is compact (and attractive) enabling us to organize events which are conveniently located and require little additional transportation.

Dan Fesenmaier (1st Vice President) is now in planning mode and will contact you directly to solicit your involvement in various aspects of the Conference. Also, he plans to send you updates on the program periodically so as to keep you informed as the Conference takes shape.

With the current Bylaws, Emeritus Fellows do not need to pay any membership fees. If Fellows or Fellows Emeritus/a wish to make an additional donation to the Academy to help with our ongoing activities and new initiatives, please let Leslie know at leslie.fung@polyu.edu.hk.

As always, I look forward to hearing from all of you as we move forward into 2020.

Wishing you all the best,

Karl Wöber