President's Message

Dear Fellows:

22 Fellows and 25 invited, emerging, and regional scholars from 13 different countries celebrated the reunion of the International Academy for the Study of Tourism at KU Leuven, Belgium. After three long years, it was a great opportunity to meet Fellows and friends.

The theme of the conference was “Visioning the Future of Tourism” in response to the many important challenges the world has experienced resulting in huge changes within society including tourism. While these ‘forces of change’ continue to dominate society, the 2022 Academy Conference took a special turn where the goal of this conference was to identify basic ‘principles’ which might ‘guide’ tourism research.

The first two days featured research by Academy Fellows and invited European scholars which focused on the forces of change and their impact of tourism futures. On Monday, the wine and cheese reception welcomed all new Fellows as well as invited and emerging scholars. Despite still very challenging circumstances we were able to celebrate the inauguration of several new Fellows in person: Aliza Fleischer, Alan Fyall, Ulrike Gretzel, Scott McCabe, and Youcheng Wang. We also welcome those new Fellows who were not able to travel to Leuven and hope that they will be with us at the next Academy Conference: Heather Gibson, Juergen Gnoth, Tazim Jamal, SooCheong (Shawn) Jang, Nigel Morgan, and Honggang Xu. Fellows also welcomed all Invited Scholars (Albert Assaf, Salvador Clavé, Scott Cohen Xavier Font, Tanja Mihalic, and Marina Novelli) as well as three Emerging Scholars: Mingming Cheng Xiaoxiao Fu, and Vincent Tung.


The third day involved many leaders of European tourism. On this day the Academy Fellows along with scholars from Europe and industry representatives jointly discussed how the various actors within tourism can support and strengthen each other (even better) in the future. The event was held in hybrid mode where an additional 150 people attended the programme online.

On Thursday, Academy Fellows participated in panel discussions with the goal of outlining key basic principles which should guide tourism research and the teaching of tourism within higher education. The last day of the conference brought this discussion full circle wherein Academy Fellows proposed six actions which resulted to a series of ad hoc Committees. The first committee led by Susanne Becken will identify key Academy values and potential, asking the questions: What do we stand for, what are our ethics, what can we achieve? This committee will consider alternative Academy commitments to sustainable actions, values, and advocacy. The second ad hoc committee led by Scott McCabe will build a narrative/new concept for excellent scholarship which should be used to guide young tourism scholars and will be incorporated into new guidelines for Academy membership. The third committee led by Pauline Sheldon will strengthen the Academy core and Fellowsʻ commitment by reinforcing knowledge and application of the Academy bylaws and work on instruments improving communication among Fellows. The fourth ad hoc committee led by Alan Fyall will investigate tools for widening the scope and diversity of the Academy without compromising the Academy’s objective of recognizing excellence and leadership. The fifth committee led by Ulrike Gretzel will focus on mentoring beyond the Academy, how Fellows can become a resource for others and, in particular, how the Academy can leverage the extensive experience of Fellows Emeriti. The sixth ad hoc committee led by Christian Laesser will identify one relevant, impactful research theme for a consensus session at the next Academy Conference.


The academic program was complemented by a series of very nice social activities which enabled the Fellows to experience some exciting and beautiful places throughout Flanders. These included a visit to Labiomista which represents a unique collaboration between artist Koen Vanmechelen and the community of Genk. Labiomista is a permanent and evolving work of art that invites, challenges and inspires its visitors. It’s a hotbed for a wealth of new ideas, creations, projects and collaborations and a meeting place for all the species of this world, in particular chickens. Delegates also had the chance to visit Park Abbey, an exceptionally well preserved 12th-century heritage site on the outskirts of Leuven, surrounded by green space. All of these places created deep impressions of Leuven, Flanders and Belgium.

The 2023 Academy Conference ended with a delightful gala dinner at the Faculty Club of KU Leuven. You can find more pictures from the Academy Conference 2022 here: http://www.tourismscholars.org/album/Leuven_Belgium_2022/index.html.





International Academy for the Study of Tourism