Impacts of Economic Crisis on Tourism

Impacts of the World Recession and Economic Crisis on Tourism: North America”, by J.R. Brent Ritchie of the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Carlos Mario Amaya Molinar of the Universidad de Colima, Colima, Mexico, and Douglas C. Frechtling of the Department of Tourism and Hospitality Management, Washington D.C., was one of the most frequently read articles in the Journal of Travel Research in 2010. J.R. Brent Ritchie has provided a personal reflection on the article:

 As indicated in the article itself, the North American perspective which we provided on the impacts of the world recession on tourism, was both motivated – and subsequently prepared – within the framework of a major initiative undertaken by the International Academy for the Study of Tourism (IAST).

At its 2009 biannual conference held in Mallorca, Spain, the academy, [whose elite, restricted membership includes some 75 of the world’s leading scholars in tourism from many disciplinary backgrounds and more than 20 countries], decided it had an obligation to contribute to improving the world’s understanding of the impacts that the recent economic crisis has had, is having, and likely will have, on the well-being and performance of the global tourism industry. In order to focus and maximize the impact of its contribution, the academy obtained the agreement of the editor of sage’s leading “Journal of Travel Research” (JTR), to devote a special issue of the journal to the topic. The content of this issue was derived from presentations initially made in Mallorca and subsequently strengthened through additional research prior to publication in the special issue of JTR.

While I initially addressed the North American perspective in Mallorca, I must admit that I was reluctant, in light of the breadth and significance of the topic, to have my presentation included in  the special issue. Indeed, had it not been for the encouragement of IAST president Pauline Sheldon, and JTR Editor Rick Perdue, I might have abandoned the challenge of trying to contribute to  the major task at hand.  Even when I agreed in principle to prepare a manuscript focusing on the impacts of the crisis on North America, I quickly recognized that even this limited perspective on the global problem required a range of complementary inputs from individuals possessing an in depth understanding of each of the geographical components which make up North America. Most fortunately, I was able to recruit assistance from colleagues in both Mexico [Professor Carlos Amaya Molinar] and the United States [ Dr. Douglas Frechtling], with whom I had worked previously – and on whom I knew I could count for an understanding of their country that provided both intellectual and practical insights. For my part, i was able to rely on both the rigorous data from statistics Canada and the   highly valuable informational bulletins issued by the Canadian tourism commission,  –  as the basis of my analysis of the situation in,  and the impacts on, tourism in, Canada.

To conclude, despite my initial reservations, I was genuinely pleased with both the useful perspective and the helpful insights I felt we were ultimately able to provide across the three very different countries that make up North America – and for whom tourism plays distinctly different roles. These insights, combined with the very erudite contributions of other academy members, have provided the readers of JTR with a unique understanding of the impacts on tourism, of what we now recognize as the most severe economic crisis since that of the 1930’s. By making this contribution, I believe the academy has demonstrated to the tourism world that, despite its ivory tower image, it is capable of providing some very practical insights into the major issues facing tourism at any given point in time. As an academic who has made it a point to work closely with our industry partners, I derived great satisfaction from being a part of this very special initiative of the academy.

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