President's Message

Dear Fellows:

On behalf of the Academy board, I hope that this newsletter finds you well and that you (and your family) have been able to somehow negotiate the past few months successfully. And for those affected by the coronavirus, my hope is that you (or significant other) are able to recover soon.

These past few months have transformed the world.  Indeed, many of the leading politicians, scholars, industry leaders, media commentators, and indeed, everyday people have begun to accept the fact that the world has permanently changed. Of course, much of this is because of the huge impact that the coronavirus has had on society. However, it seems that this 'event' represents simply the 'tipping point.'  The current outpouring of support for Black Lives using the rallying statement 'I can't breathe' seems to energize the world, and not just about the status of minorities in the US, but for the current challenges  people living in Hong Kong, China and elsewhere are facing, the huge impact of carbon consumption on air pollution, and the potential threats of climate change.  It seems that all of these forces of change along with the continuing evolution of information communication technology (ICT) lays bare the huge challenges society faces. And, indeed, it is clear that this discussion is especially relevant to the tourism industry and the university.

Now about the Academy and our plans for next year.  We are still hopeful that we can hold the Academy Conference in Leuven during late May, 2021.  We have discussed the idea of recasting the Conference as a virtual event; however, it seems that the essential point of the Conference is that we spend time with each other to discuss the issues of the day. And, we have lots of issues to discuss.   We also concluded that if the Conference cannot be held safely in 2021, we would push the Conference date to May, 2022.

With this, we would like to create a 'special' version of the Conference wherein we hold a 2+ day 'Futures Forum' which invites many of the industry leaders and academics from the European region (including the WTTC, UNWTO, the European Travel Commission and European Cities Marketing) to discuss the future of tourism.  This effort will be spearheaded by representatives of the region and the Academy.  The goal of this conference will be to discuss what we have learned and to articulate the steps that are needed to guide the industry as they try to navigate this uncertain world.

After the conclusion of this 'futures' conference, it is hoped that the Academy Fellows will convene for an additional 2+ days to discuss the 'conclusions' of the Futures Forum so as to provide a 'vision' (i.e., a manifesto) for the Academy wherein we can encourage our colleagues to address the key issues at hand.  As such, it is proposed that many of the research presentations and discussion sessions should focus on these issues.

This next conference will not be the usual Academy conference.  We believe that it is now the right time for the Academy to (re)emerge as a leader in the discussion of tourism, and its role in society. And with this, we believe that it important that we discuss (and debate) how we can achieve this goal.  Further, we believe we need to be more aggressive in the activities in which we are involved and in recruiting those academic leaders which can provide the vital energy needed to reach this goal. We look forward to recognizing the newest members of the Academy in May 2021, and under the direction of Dr. Bao, we will move aggressively to recruit those leaders who have proven their willingness to actively engage in the 'real' world.

I hope to hear from you. Please feel free to communicate with me (or any board member) about your thoughts on the Academy Conference or any other aspect of the Academy. We hope that it is possible to meet in May, 2021, but planning will most likely be abbreviated so that we can best respond to the uncertainty of the event. We hope to send you details of our plans in early September.

I wish you all the best.

Karl Wöber