I love the beginnings

Life is usually full of changes, the very evolution of our body and mind proves it to us. In our professional life there are usually changes, or at least this has been my experience, and I have to say that I love changes or, rather, I adore the beginnings that each of these changes entail. Those exciting moments that are usually linked to personal decisions with a certain risk, those new collective projects that make you feel in communion with others, the satisfaction of the achievements made and the strength to face difficulties.

I have been lucky enough to experience some changes that have been exciting to me, such as leaving my homeland, Majorca, to study a Bachelor in Economics at the University of Barcelona or finishing my studies to take my first steps as Assistant Professor of Econometrics at that University. Although perhaps the most significant change for me was to accept a position as a professor at the University of the Balearic Islands (hereafter UIB), thus returning to my homeland and facing new challenges that I would never have imagined. In a young university and a newly created Faculty of Economics and Business Sciences, everything was to be done, both in the field of new studies and research in economics and in tourism. It was a real starting point for me. As I will explain later, I truly enjoyed working collectively to create a solid framework, a building, metaphorically speaking, in which to develop teaching and research in both economics and tourism. This is the experience that I want to explain in these pages, since, although I have participated in multiple initiatives and I have held many positions, the period dedicated to starting initiatives in the fields of tourism and economics were very fruitful. I believe that my contribution at that time was similar to a grain of sand, but a grain of sand necessary to fill the beach. I intend to encourage you all to put more grains of sand on that beach. 

Making way towards the creation and transmission of tourism knowledge

The trajectory that tourism development in Spain has followed since its beginning to repeatedly occupy, according to the UNWTO, one of the top three positions in the ranking of countries receiving tourism in the world, is closely related to the frenetic tourist activity of the Balearic Islands (Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza and Formentera). The Balearic Islands are now one of the leading destinations both in the nationally and in the Mediterranean. The intense and intensive tourist specialization of the archipelago has been achieved following a process of more than seven decades in which the stages enunciated by Butler in his Life Cycle of Tourist Destinations can be easily identified (Butler 1980).

The different stages of the development of the Balearic Islands as a destination are related, as it could not be otherwise, with the evolution of higher education and research in tourism both in Spain and in the Islands themselves, both aspects to which I have been fortunate to be able to contribute from my position as academic at the University of the Balearic Islands.

More specifically, my contributions to tourism knowledge have been developed in two different, but totally interrelated, sides: one of them is the creation, within the UIB, of an appropriate framework to promote and develop studies, research and knowledge transfer in tourism and the other is the realization of research activities as such as projects, publications, conferences, etc. It is curious that, although the right thing to do would have been to first build the framework in which to develop research and then to do research activities there, the truth is that, in my experience, this is not always done in this way. Often the process start with voluntary actions carried out by some visionaries who tacitly decide to start the process and learn as they go along. Therefore, in the early days of initiatives of this kind, the two sides mentioned above are often intertwined to take advantage of the opportunities of each moment and the resources available. In this sense, I find inspiring the verses by the Spanish poet Antonio Machado in his poem Caminante no hay camino (in Proverbios y Cantares): Caminante no hay camino, se hace camino al andar (Wayfarer, there is no way / Make your way by going farther).

It is from this personal experience that I have just described, that I have structured the present contribution. In it I will refer to the two sides mentioned before, although I would like to highlight the first of them since it is the one I consider the most useful when it comes to encouraging other researchers who are participating in the construction of a framework in which to develop their work. As I said earlier, I believe that the beginnings are always exciting, and I am proud to have contributed to the promotion of education, research and transfer in tourism in Spain and, in particular, in the Balearic Islands. Giving this impulse was obviously, a collective task that was faced with tenacity and enthusiasm, being both attitudes necessary to achieve it, mainly considering that the work of professors and researchers in tourism has been often developed in a context of lack of support and little understanding towards the importance of tourism as a field of knowledge by both public institutions and the private sector.

Next, I will present in an intertwined way my main contributions to the two sides. I will expand more on the first since it was the most important for me, the one in which the foundations that were going to support the structure for the development of education and research in tourism in the Balearic Islands and, collaterally in Spain, were laid. 

Laying the foundations for education and research in tourism

The intense tourism activity that has characterized the Balearic Islands for decades has been promoting at all times the development of a wide spectrum of educational options among which the higher education in tourism offered by the UIB for years has always stood out. In this sense, the UIB was always one of the a pioneers in Spain in the implementation of tourism studies. Thus, it was one of the first universities to have university studies of 3 years (Diplomatura de Turismo, launched in the in 1998)). This degree coexisted with another two-year degree created previously and that complemented it (Higher Diploma in Tourism) and that was inspiring similar diplomas in other Spanish universities. It was in the Higher Diploma in Tourism where I was a professor for the first time in tourism studies, a new field for me, trained and doctorated in Economics. Shortly after, in 2000, I was appointed director of this Diploma for seven years. It was then that I learned how costly it was to convince the different stakeholders involved in tourism that there should be qualified professionals for public and private management and that it was convenient for them to have specific training in tourism. In the decades before the year 2000, despite the millions of tourists arriving in Spain, companies, public sector and even universities had not yet assimilated this necessity. This problem was not specific to Spain, but the undervaluation of specialized training in tourism was, and probably still is, common in a wide spectrum of countries and also extended to the professional opportunities offered by the tourism industry (Richardson, 2010).

At the beginning of the second millennium and after much effort on the part of the academics who were involved in what we could call the fight for the recognition of higher studies in tourism, the Bachelor of Tourism was implemented with the same category as the other studies of the catalogue of Spanish university degrees (4 years of duration , etc.). Do not forget that, as Ayrey & Tribe (2005) and Ayrey et al (2014) say, tourism as an area of study has been continuously questioned in both the past and today. It was in the 2008-2009 academic year when the long-awaited Bachelor in Tourism at UIB began, teaching myself in it since then.

This journey to achieve normality and to advance, sometimes slowly, in the recognition of higher education in tourism by the various tourism stakeholders, happened simultaneously when in Spain bold researchers in tourism emerged in an isolated and spontaneous way. It was necessary to be bold and reckless, since the recognition of the results of research (articles, books etc.) in Spain was scarce or non-existent. In fact, in the field of social sciences, the assessment of publishing in international journals and in journals with an impact factor had not yet been extensively introduced in Spain. Therefore, there were some academics introducing us to an unknown and difficult world, with scarce resources and guided only by the intuition that this was the way to go. All of this was difficult, but at the same time exciting, I admit it. It was in that context that some of us began to investigate certain aspects of tourism demand such as the phenomenon of the repetition of the visit on the one hand, and the characterization of tourist expenditure on the other.  We also paid attention to the interrelationship between both aspects. These lines of research paid off in publications and in journals such as Tourism Economics, Tourism Management and Annals of Tourism Research. The articles by Juaneda (1996), Juaneda & Sastre (1999) and Aguiló & Juaneda (2000) were three of the first publications in prestigious international journals published by UIB researchers.

At the beginning of the new millennium came the time when these same academics, most of whom specialized in Economics and Business Administration, saw that our isolated and wilful efforts should be organized around a structure that should include research teams and postgraduate and doctoral studies in tourism economics. In other words, a solid framework had to be built on which to lay the foundations for the development of research. It was to this task that I was intensely devoted for several years. To put the first blocks to the foundations, several initiatives for the creation of postgraduate courses emerged: The Master in Tourism Management, the Master in Tourism Management and Planning and the Master in Tourism and Environmental Economics. Some of these initiatives were pioneers in Spain and even the last one, created in 2004, was one of the first of its kind in the world. Its conception as a Master with international professors and students, thanks to the tutelage and support of the renowned experience of Professor Jafar Jafari, opened the doors to collaboration with researchers from other countries, which greatly enriched our work. It was these years of intense work participating in the creation of the Master in Tourism Management and Planning and the Master in Tourism and Environment Economics and being director of the latter, which allowed me to see the different perspectives with which to approach tourism knowledge and the different visions of the various stakeholders. At the same time, in the academic year of 2003-2004, we created the PhD Program in Tourism and Environmental Economics to complete the research training options. I was also a director of this Program throughout its existence. At that time, there were only two universities in Spain offering PhD Programs in tourism. We worked hard to get the quality mention awarded by the Ministry of Education to PhD Programs that met certain requirements and we succeeded. This milestone was very unheard of in Spain for a doctorate in the field of tourism. As is well known, this field of research is often dispraised by specialists from other scientific disciplines (Ayrey et al, 2014), including those in Economics. Therefore, obtaining this mention of quality being a PhD Program in Tourism and Environmental Economics was an extraordinary effort on the part of all the professors involved in proving our research value in a context that was not particularly favourable to us. All of this was a very enriching process, personally and collectively, and very rewarding to see that we were building the backbone structure around which to research, create and transfer tourism knowledge: Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD Program on the one hand, and research groups on the other.

As expected, once the foundations of the necessary structure for the development of research in tourism were laid, its fruits were obtained: research projects funded in competitive calls, publications in international journals, PhD’s theses, relations with researchers from other universities in Spain and the world. These achievements contributed to the fact that, at that time, the UIB occupied the first place in tourism research in the ranking of Spanish universities, valuing the articles published in indexed international journals (Albacete-Sáez & Fuentes-Fuentes, 2010) and that the UIB was in the ninth position among all the universities in the world (Park et al, 2011). In little more than a decade, the foundations had been laid for the creation of a building in which to contribute to the creation and transfer of tourist knowledge.

It was in this already more consolidated situation that I participated in research projects in the field of econometric modelling of tourism demand and within it, in the economic analysis of tourism expenditure and its relationship with consumer loyalty (Alegre & Juaneda, 2006). In addition, thanks to the collaboration arising from Dr. Wineaster Anderson’s doctoral thesis (Anderson, 2008) on the motivations of choosing the All-inclusive travel mode, several publications in which I took part emerged (Anderson, Juaneda & Sastre, 2009 and García et al, 2015).

As I have previously pointed out, I am pleased to have contributed to the construction of this building that has enabled many achievements in the field of education and research in tourism and in tourism economics at the UIB and that have had repercussions at national and international level. Personally, the path traveled at that time has allowed me to meet great people who have opened my mind, who have let me share the vertigo of jumping into something completely new and feeling that many things are possible, even if someone tell us otherwise. Although I will not name them, it is a good time to thank them.

I wanted to share my experience of those years with the intention of encouraging tourism researchers scattered around the world who are at the beginning of education or research projects to carry on, hoping that their experiences will be as or more satisfactory than mine. They will have to face problems and defend their projects tooth and nail, but I hope that the result will be positive for you, for your communities and for tourism knowledge.


Written by Catalina Juaneda, Universitat de les Illes Balears, Spain


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