Dear women tourism researchers
This letter provided me with an excellent opportunity to take time to reflect on my career in tourism and the key things that I’ve learned along the way.
I always enjoyed hospitality and tourism from a young age. At age 6 I planned my escape from our annual summer holiday on a remote farm in Argyll, Scotland and offered myself as a local tour guide to a visiting family from England. I have many happy memories of visiting attractions with that family over the next ten years and am still in touch with them now over forty years on.
I worked in hospitality while at school and continued this alongside my undergraduate Geography degree, before moving to do my postgraduate in Hospitality and Tourism. Subsequent work in planning and opening several tourism facilities gave me direct experience prior to moving into an academic position in Tourism, with a focus on planning heritage and visitor attractions.
I had always planned to become an academic, having been encouraged by my father, a Professor of Education, and it has been everything I thought it would be – varied, fun, challenging, uplifting and satisfying. I particularly enjoy the contact with students and industry, providing the opportunity to bring current research into the classroom and support students in their chosen subject.
What have I learned along the way?
Love your subject and invest time in finding your particular area of expertise, once you’ve found it, stick with it and try not to get drawn into too many other areas. It may not seem adventurous, but it means you can concentrate on doing the various things well, rather than being pulled in all directions and not doing any of them well.
Look for role models and leaders that inspire and challenge you to develop and learn. I’ve been really lucky to have such people around me, though perhaps I didn’t always appreciate that when they were encouraging me to step out of my comfort zone.
Become that role model for others around you and seek opportunities for them to flourish and develop, bring them into meetings and situations where they can learn and support them to meet others, make connections and gain the confidence to take things forward themselves.
Finally, surround yourself with people who you trust, it doesn’t need to be a lot of people, but build those relationships and support each other long term. I’ve been lucky, I still research with colleagues that I met at a conference 25 years ago, and still work closely with academics who I met when we were interviewed on the same day 30 years ago.
All the very best for your future careers in tourism.
Edinburgh Napier University, UK