Intl conference stresses importance of tourism research in GCC

MUSCAT, SEPT 8 – A pair of tourism conferences organised by the International Geography Union (IGU) in Canada recently has underlined the importance of greater scientific research on the impacts of tourism on local cultures, societies and their environments. The Sultanate of Oman, represented by Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), is a member state of the IGU. Taking part in the conferences were international tourism scholars Prof Alan Lew (USA), Prof Jarkko Saarinen (Finland), Prof Dieter Mueller (Sweden), Prof Joseph Cher (Australia) and Dr Manuela Gutberlet (Oman) who presented and discussed their research at the forums.
Research on tourism is a new, inter-disciplinary scientific field, involving business, economics, psychology, sociology, urban planning and environmental studies. “In Asia and especially in the Middle East, geography is seen as a social science subject that is taught at school to understand our planet Earth from a physical perspective. However, geography also includes social aspects of everyday life with its impacts, for example global phenomena such as the mobility of human beings through tourism. Tourism is one of the emerging, growing sectors in the whole GCC region. I think that much more scientific research in tourism is needed,” said Dr Manuela Gutberlet, Tourism Geographer and PR Manager at The German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech).
“Tourism has become an integral part of modern life. Almost everyone has aspirations to travel and see the world. As incomes have risen, especially in Asia, and border restrictions have become less, the pent up demand for travel has exploded in recent years. Tourism scholars have barely been able to keep up with the growing tourism phenomenon,” said Prof Dr Alan Lew, Professor and Department Chair at the Geography, Planning and Recreation Department of Northern Arizona University (USA) and Editor-in-Chief of the international peer-reviewed and ranked journal Tourism Geographies, published by Routledge.
Prof Alan Lew is a board member of the Commission on Tourism and Leisure and Global Change of the International Geography Union (IGU) that organised a pre-conference on Tourism Geographies in cooperation with Laval University (Quebec) in La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada this month. Topics such as Developing Rural Tourism through Community Partnerships in Canada, Tourism Place Making as Resilience, Climate Change and Tourism Impacts in Germany, Fine Dining Tourism in Sweden, Cycling Tourism in China and a City’s Reputation Management via Social Media were presented and discussed. Depending on the scale and the scope of tourism development, global tourism has many positive impacts such as job creation, enhancing peace and understanding between countries and people, fostering knowledge about environments and the diversity on Earth.