By Dr Heather Skinner*
The 3rd Corfu Symposium on Managing & Marketing Places took place 18-21 April 2016 at the Corfu Mare Boutique Hotel. The Institute of Place Management(IPM) once again provided formal accreditation for the Symposium. The Institute’s links with the Journal of Place Management and Development, with its focus on communicating with academics, practitioners, policy makers and local government, is also a driving factor behind the balance between academic and practitioner input into this event, and there is a current call for papers based on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Corfu Symposia. The theme of this year’s Symposium, ‘thinking and re-thinking about places’ reflected current developments in both the theory and practice of place management and marketing with places and spaces being contested, formed and re-formed, and the symposium considered the way places are theorised differently in various academic disciplines, and what this means for the practice of managing and marketing places.
From this, our 3rd Symposium, the main reflection I will make is that echoed by Professor Cathy Parker, of Manchester Metropolitan University, and the Institute of Place Management, that this series of events focuses on both theory andpractice, on both knowledge production and its impact, and that this is unusual at academic events. As we have done in previous years, the delegates to this event are happy to volunteer their time and expertise, in order to put into practice some of the ideas presented here that can help point Corfu in the right direction as the island faces a point of transition between the more traditional mass tourism and all-inclusive models, towards tourism models that are more contemporary, more responsible, and more sustainable.
Key to this Symposium being able to make this sort of difference will be the backing of strong leadership from the Municipality and from leaders within the academic and business communities; the identification of appropriate partners (for example, to leverage the Old Town’s status as a UNESCO World Heritage site, it is vital to partner with other similar sites); the identification of suitable funding for any initiatives, because it is acknowledged that Corfu, as a Municipality within Greece remains in financial crisis and debt and thus cannot afford the sort of investment that may be needed; and the identification of where relevant skills and talent on the island already exists (for example in the creation of content for the development of more Smart Tourism), where examples of good practice already exist in places that others could learn from (with Arillas being highlighted as one such place); and the identification of where skills may need some form of development to improve the tourists experience. Those involved in the Symposium therefore committed to trying to make a difference to Corfu, recognising that in order to make a difference to the island, that we may need to start small, on a business-by-business; resort-by-resort; project-by-project basis, and not at the more macro level of the island as a whole.
Dr Heather Skinner, the Symposium Chair, is also now announced as Chair of the Responsible Tourism Special Interest Group of the Institute of Place Management. Thus the Symposium’s links with the IPM become even stronger as we start planning our 4th Corfu Symposium on Managing & Marketing Places that will take place 24-27 April 2017, and which will take the theme Place Making from Various Gazes. This will enable us to consider practitioner, policy, and academic papers in vibrant, positive, supportive, and, most importantly, impactful sessions next year that can make a real difference to this island of Corfu that is our host for these annual events.