148 Letter from Freya Higgins-Desbiolles

My letter to the future scholars in tourism research:

Choosing to become a scholar of tourism research may be a brave choice after COVID-19. Certainly, the world we had taken for granted, built on tourism growth, tourism as a path to development, greater access to tourism experiences and free movement of tourists to all corners of the globe, may soon be a thing of the past. No one really knows what our future will hold.

We may ask: Will there be a future of tourism research?  I am sometimes concerned about that, considering how many challenges we are set to face and how little tourism really matters in the face of these perhaps existential crises upon us. This includes climate change, possible future pandemics and associated financial crises that we may face. However, assuming there is a future, I would encourage you to be brave and do what you can to make things better in such circumstances.

I do not have sage advice for you, but here is what I will share:

  1. Know you are enough – the managerial authorities of the university will surely always tell you the opposite; please do not internalise this manipulative behaviour they will use in the managerial academy to constantly pressure you to be ever more productive;
  2. Know when is enough- the managerial university will suck the life out of you if you let it; don’t let it. Hug your family, take walks in nature and just be (see point 1);
  3. Know that you don’t know – we are pressed to present ourselves as experts and to cultivate enormous egos; great work emerges from humility, critical questioning and curiosity;
  4. Know to say no (and yes)! Your work will thrive when you have a passion for what you are working on. There will be endless opportunities but choose wisely and well. You’ll know what those wise choices are when you follow your own path.

Maybe this is helpful or maybe it is not… there is no formula for success. The key task in life is to distinguish between what matters and what does not when we have such a finite time on this amazing blue planet.  Really, tourism and tourism studies do not matter as much as we are led to believe.  Work and careers also do not matter as much as we are forced to practice; they are a means to an end, and it would be helpful for our well-being if we kept this in mind.  What really matters is becoming a good person and living a good life.  It is your task as a growing and learning human being to identify what these things are for you and start working to achieve that.  All that I ask is that you think about the consequences of your choices on others and pursue a path that makes it possible for others to also pursue and live their best life. We may then be able to identify a good life in and through tourism and work together towards that.

Good luck!




Freya Higgins-Desboilles

University of Waterloo, Canada & University of South Australia, Australia


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Women’s voices in tourism research Copyright © 2021 by The University of Queensland is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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