Welcome Wolverhampton and Lincoln tourism students, as well as other visitors! Our virtual conference is now well-established as a highlight of final year tourism studies, a forum for the discussion of ideas, of pushing boundaries, of critical questions - and hopefully, some solutions. This year, in line with our theme, we are inviting you to explore these key questions: What factors shape our desire to travel? How do an uncertain security environment and its attendant risks affect tourist behaviour? Can tourists help to create world peace? Who determines what an 'authentic' experience is? How do issues of class, race, age and gender affect access to tourism? Can access to tourism be made fairer? How do tourists 'read' artistic productions on holiday? This is bound to be an exciting conference - we urge you to explore all the conference stands to find out what you and your colleagues are saying about these issues.
This is the area to voice your views on such varied issues as the global security environment, extreme adventure, 'crime and grime' and the exploitation of those living in tourism destinations.
How do we become the tourists we are? How does our upbringing affect our tourist ambitions? And along the way, who makes decisions about holidays - mums, dads, children? What motivates us to visit particular destinations? A host of sociological and psychological issues to explore here...
Can tourism be a force for the promotion of international peace and understanding? There are certainly a number of NGOs that believe it can (and so does the World Tourism Organisation). Again, it may be that tourism is a force for positive economic development in a world where some people have few other options. There's plenty room for debate here!
We hardly ever mention the great numbers of people who do not become tourists - through poverty, or ill-health, or disability, or age, or simply because of where they live in the world. It is time to bring them in from the cold and to examine the many factors that inhibit peoples' desires to travel.
As tourists, are we relentlessly in pursuit of some grand form of retail therapy - or can we see beyond instant gratification? Do those who raise money for charity, or who volunteer on projects in poorer communities, represent a different kind of tourist (and tourism)? And on a different note: are mass tourists really 'lesser beings' than well-heeled 'alternative' tourists?