Claudia Bauer-Krösbacher, director of the Tourism & Leisure Management bachelor programme, points out that a number of changes, such as the latest developments in AI and the pressing need for sustainability, have heralded a major paradigm shift in the tourism industry. Our new slogan – It’s all in me – highlights the potential that students bring with them when they start their degrees. With their expertise in different areas of tourism, our professors and lecturers support students to enable them to identify their potential and talents, develop their skills and grow personally. As an educational institution we give our students all the tools they need to face up to new challenges and act as gamechangers in the tourism industry.
Claudia Dolezal, who specialises in sustainability and destination management, stresses that ““Rethinking Tourism” is the slogan for this year’s official UNWTO World Tourism Day celebrations taking place in Bali. The choice of Indonesia, and more specifically Bali, as the location for this event not only brings back memories of the fieldwork I did for my doctorate on the island; it is also a reminder of the power of tourism – both in a fruitful and harmful sense. For a long time, Bali’s population – who live in a destination rich in cultural and natural resources which at the same time is suffering due to environmental changes – has been overlooked in the power equation that shapes tourism and tourist encounters. The past few years may finally have led to a rethink, which will not only empower local people and make them the true owners of tourism enterprises, but also lead us to think about sustainability much more innovatively, inclusively and holistically.”
Larissa Neuburger is a professor in Digital Tourism and Digital Marketing who is focusing on the latest advances related to artificial intelligence (AI), which will have a tremendous impact on our lives. AI can enhance all phases of the traveller’s journey. It can support the search for the next travel destination and function as a virtual assistant in the planning and booking process. AI will probably soon be able to predict flight delays or tourist numbers, and will help tourism businesses to answer travellers’ queries or online reviews. However, despite all these opportunities and the promise that the world of AI holds, it is important not to forget the human element in tourism and the rich intercultural and personal interaction we experience while traveling. It will be up to each and every one of us to decide how far AI will play a part in our lives and travel experiences.
Giancarlo Fedeli, Professor of Tourism Management, emphasises that tourism is an extremely complex phenomenon due to its important economic, political and environmental links and critical interrelationships. It is also an activity that is unfortunately still too undervalued and has not yet been studied in depth on many levels. News stories mostly focus on negative effects and inconvenience related to tourism activities, such as air travel disruptions and other problems related to overtourism and the gentrification of historic sites. As we continue to focus on such issues, on this day of celebration it is also right that we bear in mind the incentive to advance the status of destinations and their inhabitants that tourism brings on a social and cultural level. And it is important to remember the diverse and important job and career opportunities that tourism generates for young students and people who want to capitalise on their development potential. We must not forget this, and as educators, researchers, citizens and consumers we should focus our efforts on making the industry stronger and more resilient, by acting and making choices more responsibly.
Stephanie Tischler specialises in tourism marketing and consumer behaviour. She highlights the growing demand from travellers in search of exceptional and meaningful travel experiences. The trend towards healthy living, sustainability, and a focus on regional cuisine have clearly driven the interest in authentic and locally-sourced food experiences while on vacation. Regional, seasonal and high-quality food offerings are increasingly becoming a decisive factor in tourists’ decision making and their choice of destination. Culinary tourism experiences that include these elements lay the foundations for unique culinary experiences that are currently sought-after among both culinary and ordinary/non-culinary travellers. Nevertheless, the tourism industry needs to find innovative solutions to address challenges such as labour shortages – having sufficient qualified staff is crucial in order to deliver extraordinary culinary tourism experiences – and the lack of strong local/regional networks between the hospitality sector and agriculture, which are urgently needed to solve the problem of the limited availability of local food products (in terms of quantity, quality and seasonality).