Core Competencies of TiD

The diversity in disciplinary backgrounds and breadth of the employed methods has been the source of development for a number of specific tourism competences. The seven Danish tourism research environments have achieved Nordic and international recognition through groundbreaking contributions to regional economic models, destination development, innovation studies, tourism sociology, experience design, place branding and sustainable tourism development. Some of the prevalent theoretical tones and methodological competences that describe the current tourism research in Denmark are described below.

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Regional economic models

At CRT and SDU are specialists that have developed socio-economic models and satellite accounts for tourism, based on the Danish Statistics office registered data. These models include the entire Danish regional economics and are utilized primarily to highlight problems in relation to regional areas and tourism. The innovative with CRT’s models in relation to other European satellite accounting is the level of detail in the utilized registered data.

Destination development and management

 

The institutionalization of regional tourism development is a central research area, both in Denmark and internationally. Researchers at both AAU and SDU have employed strategic, organizational, and inter-organizational aspects of destination development. Some have focused on the interaction between public and private actors, for example in relation to culinary tourism or DMO’s development dynamics, while others study local growth strategies in relation to national tourism policy or European agriculture and structural politics. At CBS there is research in management, business models, strategic decision and control processes within the hotel and transport sectors.

Tourism sociology and mobility

Led by John Urry’s classic, The Tourist Gaze, tourism sociologists the world over have research the travel’s practice and materiality through the “Performance Turn” perspective. This micro-sociological perspective opens up for a new understanding of the tourist experience where tourisms’ actors follow sociocultural and sociomateriality processes that cross typical structural dichotomies (such as work/leisure; away/home). The performance activity is made visible in the interaction between the humane, the immaterial and the material, through the use of new mobility and visual ethnographic methods. The mobility sociologists at Roskilde University with MOSPUS have for several years contributed to international research within tourism sociology through the contributions Space Odysseys, Mobility and Tourism and the latest as an upgrade of Urry’s foundational book with the title, “The Tourist gaze 3.0”.

Innovation studies

Several environments are engaged with innovation as a subject area at various levels and diverging theoretical perspectives. At SDU and AU there is research in innovation in business development and innovation-promoting tools at both the micro and macro policy levels. Among other things the Web 2.0 innovation platform, INNOTOUR, is being developed that is widely used in both education and business cooperation. CRT and RUC study innovation processes in regional and societal contexts, including institutional and organizational frameworks, as well as public and private actors that can promote innovative change. At RUC there is research in value chain innovation and development of concrete innovation methods that firms can utilize in practice. At AAU there is a special focus on creating an improved theoretical understanding of knowledge processes and innovation that is present in both regional and non-spatial networks. At CBS there is research on technological innovation with a focus on social media and digital technologies. In 2015, TiD members have joined their expertise on tourism innovation and created the research project InnoCoast (www.innocoast.aau.dk) financed by InovationFonden. The project will run from 2016 to 2018.

Place Branding

There are several place branding researchers in the various tourism environments, each of which have contributed critical and nuanced perspectives on destination and place branding. CBS studies the political and problematic aspects of branding processes with it is built upon brand analogy, while at AAU there is focus on both the negotiation between the place brand’s various actors, as well as the changes in a brand’s communicative practice.

Social media and tourism

Interactive, digital technologies, and notably social media, have significant impact on tourists' behaviour and the relationship between host and guests. Social media facilitate, nurture and modify social as well as commercial relations in tourism. Researchers at the Center for Leisure and Culture Services, CBS and Tourism Research Unit, Aalborg University has over the last years critically scrutinized this transformation process and the collective value creation mechanisms taking place on Web 2.0. Research studies focused on corporate social media strategies among DMOS, airlines and attractions; various aspects of digital tourism experiences and patterns of communication among virtual communities. Researchers at SDU work on user-driven innovation and open innovation, specifically via the INNOTOUR platform. Also, service design by use of social media is a complementary area of research. Danish tourism researchers have also laid the grounds for the field Critical Digital Tourism Studies, and has recently published the book "Tourism Social Media: Transformations in Identity, Community and Culture", which brings together theoretical reflections and empirical studies of digital relationships in tourism.

Experience economy and experience design

Unique and memorable experiences are allegedly tourism’s core product, but the majority of the international literature (understood as James Pine & Joseph Gilmore, Lena Mossberg or Albert Boswijk) regard normative “recipes” for the creation of optimal experiences. Tourism researchers in Denmark have contributed with nuances to the field theoretically, conceptually, at not least, methodologically. At Aalborg University experiences are studied from a cultural consumer and psychological consumer perspective, which focuses on tourists’ identity creation during experience consumption. With the help of various narrative and discourse perspectives how reports form the tourism experience are studied, including how tourists themselves create meaning through own stories. At CBS cultural tourism, creativity, and experience economy are studied. Several researchers work with visual methods (photo elicitation or video ethnography) to uncover the experience process as it unfolds. Others use netnography to study online consumer cultures. At RUC they have studied experience production at museums, guided tours, and events and festivals, especially focused on developing the subject area “Performance Design.” Within this new models and practices for organizing, marketing and management of events have been developed. RUC has also established an Experience Lab, where experiments are done on interactive experiences. Several research projects are critical of current practice of historical management and cultural dissemination of tourist attractions.

Sustainable tourism development

At both SDU and CBS there are researchers with specialist competences within sustainable tourism development. Sustainable tourism development is not an achievable goal but is regarded as a dynamic and complex management philosophy that consists of wishful change management processes for those that live with and of tourists. Sustainability is dependent upon a holistic perspective where both the economic, natural, and social-cultural aspects are researched in relation to tourism development. Besides consumer related studies, which regards the relationship between tourists’ lifestyle and environmental choices, there is research in supply chain strategies for environmental leadership, as well as public policies that touch upon sustainable tourism development. In addition, there is research in the importance of festivals and events, life quality, innovation, corporate social responsibility, new social media, local identity and cultural management to develop more sustainable tourism development.

Geographic, Economic and Educational Anchoring

While some of the tourism research in Denmark has been financed through national, Nordic and European research funds, the majority of research projects are inspired by cooperation with external sponsors in the tourism sector, for example VisitDenmark, regional and local DMOs, Vacation Home Renters Association (Feriehusudlejernes Brancheforening) and municipalities. An important characteristic for all research environments is their empirical focus in Denmark is convergent with the region in which they are located. As such there are research projects at SDU (Esbjerg) that are geographically oriented in and around the Wadden Sea (Vadehavet), Southern and West Jutland AU (Herning) is oriented towards Middle and West Jutland, and AAU in Northern Jutland on the North Sea (Vesterhavet). At CBS there are several research projects about Copenhagen and bit city tourism, while the geographical focus is not so evident here as in other environments. CRT has maintained the research interest for Nordic outlying areas and thinly populated regions. The RUC researchers’ geographic focus is global, but there is a special focus on place development in the Zealand (Sjælland) region.

 

In this way a close cooperation between theoretical challenges and concrete empirical issues and results in academic knowledge which has direct relevance for practitioners in the tourism sector. Various tourism researchers in Denmark have a leading role in creating both Danish and international networks within tourism, regional development and experience economy.

 

The research environments actively contribute to a diverse and research focused tourism education at both the Bachelor and Master level. University of Southern Denmark offers a Master of Arts education in International Tourism and Leisure Management, as well as Erasmus-Mundus education, and a European Master in Tourism Management, which is offered in cooperation with universities in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and Gerona, Spain. Aalborg University has an English language master program in tourism, while Copenhagen Business School has a bachelor in Business Administration and Service Management (BSc.) and a master in Service Management (MSoc.Sc.), both taught in English. Roskilde University (Department of People and Tecnology) houses both a tourist guide education with a diploma, as well as an opprtunity for studying tourist consumption and design in the English language Spatial Design and Society MSc. In addition, RUC offers a Master program in Experience Management (MOL), which to a high degree covers tourism. In cooperation with CRT a program is offered also on Bornholm and at Thisted where it is connected to the development of the local area.