TEFI 11 - What’s Tourism got to do with it? Re-purposing tourism: engaging our radical in tourism education

York St John University hosted this virtual conference 7-10 June 2020

All presentations available - click "program" below, and then click on sessions, and the presentations you want to watch 

With seven decades of growth in international tourist arrivals, there are inimical and urgent concerns regarding the economic, social, cultural and environmental impacts of tourism. Overtourism, the climate crisis, the availability and quality of tourism work, and concerns regarding the capacity of communities to absorb tourism, attract both media and public attention, highlighting the unsustainable nature of the current industrial models of tourism. At the same time, mobile workers, migrants, tourists, daytrippers, lifestyle nomads and travellers are challenging traditional notions of tourism, generating new kinds of values and new models of exchange in tourism.

With this in mind, and in support of TEFI’s ambition to move beyond business as usual, this conference seeks to radically challenge and debate the purpose of tourism. Purpose is what motivates us. It’s the reason why we do things, why tourism operators continue to open their doors, why workers turn up for their shifts, and why tourism organisations and governments do what they do. Excavating our purpose and those of others provides an opportunity to find common ground.

Purposeful tourism is about creating sustainable places to live, work and visit, based on creating value that is more than the pursuit of profit. Purpose is intentional and requires a commitment to iterative learning and reflexivity about one’s decisions, behaviours and choices. A purposeful tourist must be honest and demonstrate restraint regarding the amount and types of travel one chooses to embark on. A for purpose business strives to deliver more than just profit, often delivering social, cultural, economic and environmental benefits because it's the right thing to do. The goal is to reflect on the transformative role of tourism to people, places and the planet. The peripatetic lifestyle of academicians is troublesome and comes at a cost, and if our work is to have posterity, we must honestly and critically reflect on the values informing our practices and respond radically. As such, we challenge the academic community to consider ways to promote purposeful travel and purposeful work.

Tourism education is at the forefront of this challenge as we, educators and practitioners, critically seek ways to enhance tourism practice, and through our radical actions, challenge the collapse of biodiversity and the silencing of host communities affected by the various impacts of tourism. It is within this context we invite contributors to critically and radically examine purpose, and the potential it holds to facilitate the transformation to a less harmful kind of tourism.

Conference themes

We welcome contributions that are related, but not limited, to the following themes. We also welcome contributions that reflect the TEFI values within the broad theme of the conference.

  • ENGAGING tourism in the next economy and tourism
  • NARRATING the future through purpose
  • RADICAL generosity – delivering profit and purpose
  • PURPOSEFUL tourism - intentional and value-driven business models
  • ACTIVATING purpose in research and teaching
  • EDUCATING for purpose - Moral dimensions of teaching, learning, and sharing knowledge
  • CHALLENGING our purpose - Honesty and integrity in our teaching practices
  • DELIVERING purpose - Social entrepreneurship in tourism and tourism education
  • EMPOWERING change-making– Resistance, survival and purpose in higher education
  • CO-CREATING value – Repurposing the Anthropocene
  • SCALING – Delivering purpose in the digital economy
  • COMMONING, sharing and the collaborative economy


We particularly invite PhD students and recent graduates to make submissions in relation to this call. In keeping with TEFI tradition, we seek to provide an opportunity to profile our emerging scholars through keynotes and other engagement opportunities. See our wonderful early career recipients from TEFI9 at http://tourismeducationfutures.org/tefi9-2016-program/ 




York city scene

This virtual conference is kindly supported by Thompson Rivers University, BC, Canada. Please click on the logo below to learn more about TRU.

Click on the VisitYork logo to see VisitBritain's YouTube video of what you can see in York in a day.

Key Contacts


Brendan Paddison, York St John University, United Kingdom B.Paddison@yorksj.ac.uk

Organizing committee:

David Kelsey, York St John University, United Kingdom

Rebecca Biggins, York St John University, United Kingdom

Jenny Hall, York St John University, United Kingdom

Stuart Reid, Lund University, Sweden

Advisory committee:

Dianne Dredge, TourismCo-lab

Karla Boluk, University of Waterloo, Canada

Johan Edelheim, Hokkaido University, Japan

Key Dates

Abstracts (max. 250 words) due 1st May 2020

Notification of Acceptance 10th May 2020

Extended abstracts (max. 1000 words) due 20th May 2020

Submission of Abstracts & Papers

Submissions to tefi@yorksj.ac.uk