How can academia help industry with sustainable development?

Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes

Richard Teare, Managing Editor, Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes


Since its inception in 2009, the Emerald journal Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes (WHATT) has encouraged academics to engage with industry to co-create solutions to real world challenges. This short piece explains WHATT’s approach to extending collaborative effort via theme issue launch events. Here, invited guests who are stakeholders in the nature of the challenge that the journal issue has been investigating, come together to listen to a short synopsis of the outcomes and then to debate and discuss ‘What next?’. If this works as intended, the launch event discussion provides a foundation for a follow-on journal issue that centres on the next steps.


WHATT: Why is collaboration with industry so important?

Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes (WHATT) focuses on thematic reviews of the major challenges for sustainable hospitality and tourism development. Every issue of the journal is based on a strategic question that guides analysis, case studies, applied research and the formation of practical, implementable solutions to industry challenges. This is enabled by collaboration with industry and dialogue with practitioners in the field. To conclude, all theme issue editors compile a short summary article in which they reflect back on their strategic question, review the contributions made by the writing team and consider the implications for management action and further investigation. In drawing together the individual contributions in this way, the WHATT format facilitates a response to ‘So what?’ questions about aspects of industry development.   


Why does WHATT encourage theme editors to launch their theme issue?

To build on the collaboration work that underpins every issue of the journal, WHATT encourages theme editors to formally launch their theme issue so that dialogue and collaborative action can be fostered between academia, industry and government. Here are three examples:

Did the context of economic crisis affect the image of Portugal as a tourist destination?

This was the question for WHATT Volume 6 Number 5, 2014. WHATT theme editors Jorge Costa, João Gomes and Monica Montenegro linked publication of this issue to an international forum attended by 300 industry representatives (Porto, Portugal, 12 February 2015). This event worked so well that WHATT now features an annual global trends issue linked to an annual global trends forum hosted in Portugal.

What action can government take to improve food safety in a diverse and multi-cultural hospitality industry?

WHATT theme editor Eunice Taylor had worked as a Policy Specialist at the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA) in the United Arab Emirates and as an outcome of this work, Eunice and her colleagues were able to provide a comprehensive response to this question (WHATT Volume 7, Number 1, 2015). On 17 March, 2015, 150 practitioners and government agency staff attended the journal issue launch event at ADFCA’s offices.

Tourism business development and logistics in the Caribbean: will there be a symbiotic relationship?

This question (WHATT v9 n1 2017) relates to an economic development issue that is of national and regional significance and key outcomes were presented at an event held at the National Arena, Kingston, Jamaica on 28 September, 2017 attended by the Governor General of Jamaica, two Prime Ministers (Barbados, Jamaica) and Jamaican Cabinet Ministers, Members of Parliament and Heads of Public Services.


Why is sustainable tourism development in small island developing states so important?

On Monday 28th October 2019, I visited Cyprus International University (CIU) in Nicosia, North Cyprus to facilitate a publishing workshop and to discuss a journal issue focused on planning for sustainable tourism in North Cyprus (WHATT v13 v4, 2021) Thereafter, theme editors Hale Özgit and Ali Öztüren assigned academics to work with sector representatives from industry so as to ensure that their perspectives on obstacles and barriers to sustainable development would be captured. Academic engagement with practitioners enabled Hale and Ali to organise discussion sessions to check on alignment so that collaborative work would yield outcomes with both practical and theoretical value to North Cyprus and more widely for other small island developing states (SIDS). Given that this kind of broad-ranging discussion is unusual, Hale, Ali and their team were not surprised to find that the single biggest obstacle to sustainable tourism development in North Cyprus is the current rather limited extent of collaboration. Among others, they also concluded that more diversification of tourism products and better conservation of natural, cultural, economic, and environmental resources is needed.


Our forthcoming theme issue launch event: Fostering sustainable tourism collaboration

As a next step, Hale Özgit has organised a theme issue launch event that will take place on Wednesday morning 27th October 2021 at Cyprus International University, Nicosia, North Cyprus. The event is supported by Emerald Group Publishing who are providing free access to all the articles in this issue from 18th October until 31st October 2021. The theme issue question is: How could tourism planners and policy makers overcome the barriers to sustainable tourism development in the small island developing state of North Cyprus

The analysis contained in WHATT v13 n4 2021 focuses on the case for sustainable development in SIDS with specific reference to the economic, political, socio-cultural, and environmental sustainability issues facing North Cyprus. The theme issue analysis was guided by four questions that are important to all tourism stakeholders:

1: How are sustainable tourism practices managed in North Cyprus? What else can be done?

2: What are the sustainable measures for managing and mitigating tourism impacts in North Cyprus?

3: How is stakeholder collaboration in sustainable tourism policy and planning managed in North Cyprus?

4: What practical tools do planners and policy makers in North Cyprus use to encourage tourism sustainability?


An image of Dr Hale Özgit presenting

Above: Dr Hale Özgit, Associate Professor, School of Tourism and Hotel Management, Cyprus International University (CIU) at the Emerald Publishing Workshop hosted by CIU on 28th October 2019.

The launch event discussion will be facilitated by Dr Hale Özgit, Associate Professor, School of Tourism and Hotel Management, Cyprus International University, Dr Ali Öztüren, Professor, Tourism Management and Vice Dean, Faculty of Tourism, Eastern Mediterranean University, North Cyprus and Dr Richard Teare, Managing Editor, Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes.

It is encouraging to note that most of the senior level North Cyprus stakeholders in sustainable tourism development that have been invited to attend the event are coming! They represent: Academia (tourism and the environment); The Ministry of Tourism; The Chamber of Environmental Engineers; Ecotourism, Food, Tourism, Travel Agency, Guide and Hotel Associations; Municipal Civic Leadership and National Parliament.


Publishing and real work impact

Emerald’s support for sustainable development and the kind of collaborative effort that WHATT encourages is making a difference. If Hale, Ali and their team had not been able to frame an important question, undertake collaborative analysis and publish their findings in WHATT, we would not be in a position to bring so many industry stakeholders together. Our aim on the 27th October is to help facilitate more extensive collaboration and to use the discussion outcomes as a framework for Hale and Ali’s follow-on WHATT theme issue in 2022. In the second instalment of this blog, we will report on what happened at the theme issue launch event and what is happening after that!

Richard Teare


Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes (WHATT) aims to make a practical and theoretical contribution to hospitality and tourism development and we seek to do this by using a key question to focus attention on an industry issue. If you would like to contribute to our work by serving as a WHATT theme editor, do please contact the Managing Editor, Dr Richard Teare – email: [email protected]