72 INTERDISCIPLINARY APPROACH TO SUSTAINABILITY IN TOURISM RESEARCH – Contributions by Hale Özgit
Tourism is not an industry satisfying consumers through a final tangible product. It is more than satisfaction felt due to consumption of a product as it leads people to live with memories. None of us can take ownership of a tourism product as we do for our properties, shoes, clothes or any other tangible goods. Gunn and Var (2002, p.4) defined tourism as an abstraction of many different developments and plan pieces. Hence, its intangible nature and interrelationships with many different sectors and industries make tourism necessary for economic, social, environmental, natural, and cultural existence and create a matter for sustainable development. Understanding the interrelation of tourism with different sectors and looking at it from a wider window always excited me. Therefore I completed my PhD in Education Administration and related my dissertation to tourism education and training in higher education.
My dissertation topic was my first attempt to interrelate my work to a different discipline, although my master thesis was related to community involvement in tourism planning and policy development. When I started to teach at University, tourism planning and policy was one of the lectures I have started my career as an instructor, which helped me a lot in looking at the interrelationship of tourism with different sectors.
Tourism scholars should indeed share their experiences collaborating with interdisciplinary research groups (Okumus & van Niekerk, 2015). Having an opportunity to live in an island country with scarce resources then led me to search more for the development of sustainable tourism plans and the need for collaboration in enhancing those plans in small island destinations. From this perspective, I and Ali Öztüren, have published two theme issues (Özgit & Öztüren, 2021; Öztüren & Özgit, 2022) focusing on sustainable tourism development in small island states with the contributions of the industry practitioners as one of the most important stakeholders for the development and academics from different disciplines. In the first theme issue, we questioned the barriers to sustainable development and sought to develop potential solutions for overcoming these obstacles (Özgit & Öztüren, 2021). One of the most significant outcomes of the first theme issue was the need for collaboration in sustainable tourism development. The outcome was not only giving insight to me as a researcher to understand the role and importance of stakeholders’ involvement in sustainable tourism development plans but further led me to rethink the sustainability of tourism with environmental, energy efficiency, cultural, and technological aspects with my corresponding authors from different disciplines (Özgit & Adalıer, 2022; Özgit & Abbasoğlu, 2021; Özgit & Akanyeti, 2022; Özgit et al. 2022). One of the studies in the first theme issue evaluated the current state of the energy efficiency situation in North Cyprus. Study results showed a lack of awareness among policy-makers concerning the interrelation between sustainable tourism and energy efficiency strategies (Özgit & Abbasoğlu, 2021). This study inspired me to look at tourism research through a different lens, especially concerning environmental studies. In the second theme issue, we examined environmental management and tourism relations (Özgit & Akanyeti, 2022), focusing on environmental regulations and sustainable tourism indicators. Examining the sustainable practices in the contemporary tourism environment raises the question of whether sustainable tourism development requires technological advances. Therefore, we sought to investigate the existence and use of Blockchain technologies (BCTs) in the tourism industry of North Cyprus by understanding stakeholder perspectives on BCT’s role in sustainable tourism development (Ozgit & Adaler, 2022). One of our latest publications evaluated residents’ perceptions regarding heritage tourism as an alternative tourism product for sustainable tourism growth (Özgit et al., 2022). Study results revealed that collaboration is required in developing cultural heritage resources, namely handicrafts, as sustainable tourism products. At the beginning of this paper, I mentioned my motivation to research tourism and its sustainability with a collaborative approach and interrelation to other disciplines; that was the sector’s relation to all pieces in any destination for creating a tourism product.
Research is like an ocean. We look for a single piece of sand under it, which cannot belong to an individual perceptive as we learn from others and in our social world. That is the main reason my research works are together with my friends; we catch harmony in looking at the world similar but from different windows and learning from each other. Tourism is a worldwide industry for all countries, communities, businesses, and individuals wishing to benefit from it. As a social science researcher, mainly applying a qualitative research approach to questioning, observing and exploring the social phenomena will continuously inspire me to search how tourism and its development can benefit the world from different perspectives through lessons from practices. In this brief summary of my interdisciplinary tourism research, I have attempted to summarize the interdisciplinary studies that inspired me, and I have had the most fun learning and exploring the sustainable tourism development. Currently, together with my research teams from various disciplines, we continue to learn from each other and learn from our experiences.
Written by Hale Özgit, Cyprus International University, Cyprus
Read Hale’s letter to future generations of tourism researchers
Gunn, C. A., & Var, T. (2002). Tourism planning: Basics, Concepts, Cases (4th Ed.). New York: Routledge.
Okumus F., & van Niekerk M. (2015). Multidisciplinarity, tourism. In: Jafari J., Xiao H. (eds) Encyclopedia of Tourism. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-01669-6_453-1
Özgit, H., & Adalıer, A. (2022). “Can Blockchain technology help small islands achieve sustainable tourism? A perspective on North Cyprus”, Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes, ahead-of-print. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1108/WHATT-03-2022-0037
Özgit, H., & Akanyeti, İ. (2022). “Environmental regulations versus sustainable tourism indicators: a pathway to sustainable development”, Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes, ahead-of-print. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1108/WHATT-03-2022-0033
Özgit, H., & Öztüren, A. (2021). Conclusion: how could tourism planners and policy-makers overcome the barriers to sustainable tourism development in the small island developing state of North Cyprus?. Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes, 13(4), 545-552, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1108/WHATT-03-2021-0049
Özturen, A., & Özgit, H. (2022). Conclusion: transitioning from unsustainable to sustainable solutions, Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes, ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/WHATT-03-2022-0040
Özgit, H., Yücelen, Ç., Güden, N., & Ilkhanizadeh, S. (2022). Residents’ perceptions towards sustainability of cultural resources: the case of great inn. Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change, 1-16. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/14766825.2022.2032116