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by Dr. Heather Skinner

The 8th International Conference on Tourism (ICOT), jointly organised by IATOUR, the Technological Educational Institute of East Macedonia and Thrace, the Municipality of Kavala, and Middlesex University in the UK, and sponsored by Δημωφέλεια (Dimofeleia) was held in the beautiful city of Kavala on the Greek mainland 27th – 30th June 2018.

The theme for ICOT2018 was Emerging Tourism Destinations: Working Towards Balanced Tourism Development. This resulted in a really varied and interesting conference programme with almost 60 papers presented in a number of tracks including: Serviceology of Hospitality & Tourism; Cultural & Heritage Tourism; Place Image & Various Stakeholder Perceptions; Special Interest Tourism; Current Issues in Tourism; Expenditure and Consumption in Tourism; Tourism Demand; Sustainability; Tourism Development & Planning; Hospitality & Marketing; New Business Models & Digital Disruption in the Tourism Industry; along with many tourism case studies.

The conference chairs, Konstantinos Andriotis (Middlesex University), Dimitrios Stylidis, (Middlesex University) and Konstantinos Terzidis (East. Macedonia & Thrace Inst. of Technology) ensured not only a well-balanced academic programme, but also a good social programme, including a welcome reception, visits to local museums, and sites of interest including the Philippi UNESCO World Heritage Site and St Lydia Baptistery, before taking delegates on a final study tour of Thassos Island.

Representing IPM was Dr Heather Skinner (Visiting Places SIG Chair, and Chair of the Corfu Symposium on Managing & Marketing Places) who presented the results of her research in the paper “What lessons can emerging tourism destinations learn from destinations at the maturity stage of the tourism product lifecycle?” in the Tourism Development & Planning track. Dr Skinner informed ICOT2018 delegates that “the development of tourism in a destination will almost inevitably involve land-use changes as a result of tourist demand, the impact of which is one of the three issues identified in recent literature as being of the highest priority for further study and highest practitioner interest, and also as issue where prior research progress has been low”, thus pointing to the significance of the focus she took in this most recent study. Her research was contextualised on the Greek island of Corfu where she has lived for the past 5 years. Her findings were informed by depth interviews with a range of Greek and ex-patriate stakeholders who could offer insider information into the way Corfu’s rapid and often unplanned growth in tourism infrastructure developed from the 1970s onwards. This was supplemented with photographs showing the resultant change to many of the island’s resorts over time. This research showed that in the case of the relatively small island of Corfu, tourism developments were not undertaken in an inclusive and participatory manner and most did not involve local residents in the place making process. Her conclusions were that emerging tourism destinations can learn lessons from the way more mature destinations have grown and developed, especially when such growth has been haphazard, chaotic, and led much more by external drivers and motivated by individualism than it has been bottom-up, participatory, and concerned with long-term sustainability for collective benefit. To this end Dr Skinner’s work will not end here. She is currently working on developing a toolkit of resources for members of the Visiting Places SIG, that will include the results of this research, along with other resources she is developing along with Professor Harold Goodwin, IPM Director of Responsible Tourism, for destinations that are facing the challenges of ‘overtourism’ and ‘coping with success’.