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ATLAS regional sections


The contact person for this group is:

  Alzbeta Kiralova
  University College of Business in Prague
  Czech Republic




Annual review of activities 2013

From our perspective one of the key events last year in the European Commission and tourism related issues, was the more or less unofficial ending of the TSG (tourism sustainability group). The group operated since 2004 and constituted one of the core expert groups advising the commission and following specific programs and studies. The TSG started its activity in 2004. It was composed by representatives of regional/local authorities, international bodies, members of the tourism industry, trade unions, and research and educational bodies. In February 2007, the first TSG launched the report ‘Action for more sustainable European tourism’, emphasising specifically three major aims: 1. Economic prosperity; 2. Social equity and cohesion; 3. Environmental and cultural protection (Tourism Sustainability Group, 2007:3). A second and renewed TSG started in 2009 divided in 3 different working groups (WG) related to sustainability indicators, entrepreneurship and consumer awareness raising issues. The TSG functioned then as a sort of steering committee for the different actions and studies funded by the EU.

In 2010, the TSG started a third phase (with some new members) with two major aims:
1. developing and implementing the sustainability indicators (continuing from the previous phase of TSG) (for more info see:
2. drafting a charter of sustainable tourism
According to the Commission website ‘The future European Charter for a Sustainable and Responsible Tourism seeks to encourage sustainable and responsible tourism development and actions across Europe, by providing a common reference point for all tourism stakeholders. The Charter should reflect the commitment of public and private stakeholders to develop tourism in the EU according to agreed objectives and principles. (

A public consultation took place in 2012 and it was planned to propose a final version of the Charter in 2013. However, at the last TSG meeting in December 2012, it became rather clear that the TSG will no longer exist. The destiny of the Charter therefore is not entirely clear, as are the politics of the Commission in regard to the advisory expert group that was the TSG.

At the same time the second tourism unit has been implemented and numerous calls for tender have been launched. Other programs have been taken further, such as Calypso, EDEN and professional skills. Along with several bilateral implemented projects, Calypso also created an internet platform for social tourism stakeholders and clients. For detailed info see:

In order to implement the Commission’s Communication on Tourism: "Europe, the world's No 1 tourist destination – a new political framework for tourism in Europe" (COM 2010), the Commission implemented some actions, such as EURES, The European Job Mobility Portal ( operational since beginning 2013 aiming at mapping and defining amongst others the skills needed in tourism. Different studies have been funded by the EC, such as the one on defining the skills for cultural adventure and maritime tourism!

In that context, ETAG and ATLAS have decided to organise an event in December 2013. The aim of this is:
• To increase the visibility of ETAG and Atlas
• To bridge the gap between practitioners and academics and the EC
• To communicate on the contributions of ETAG/Atlas and the EC
• To highlight how, from the different perspectives, all organisations/institutions can (do) collaborate to increase quality in tourism (for workers and clients)
• To explore and show the benefits of adapted skills for ALL tourism stakeholders through practical examples
• To allow exchange among stakeholders from various backgrounds

Speakers will be from Atlas/Etag and the Commission but are not confirmed yet. The target groups of the event are tourism practitioners, academics, students, institutional and governmental stakeholders and basically everybody who is concerned by quality tourism (that is clearly linked to skills). The half day event is sponsored by the Commission and is planned to take place on the 3rd of December, just the day before the Tourism Day.

More details will be available soon….



Annual review of activities 2010

During the last 15 months I attended as ATLAS representative numerous meetings organised by the EU as well as the SIG Backpacker conference in Hermanus in South Africa. For detailed description of the work of the European Union in regards to tourism, please see the paper on EU policies in the ATLAS Reflections 2010.

As explained in the previous ATLAS Europe report, I have been invited to become a member of the Sustainable Tourism Group (TSG) of the European Commission. The first tourism sustainability group (TSG) was set up in 2004 by the Tourism Unit of the DG Enterprise. The group is composed of representatives of international bodies, member state governments, tourism industry, environmental organisations, trade unions and research and educational bodies. It participates in policy making and drafts reports on tourism sustainability issues in the EU. The last report of 2007 proposes 3 major aims for the sustainability of European Tourism: Economic prosperity; Social equity and cohesion and environmental and cultural protection.

In January 2009, the second TSG was set up, this time with new members. The latest TSG is divided into three Working groups:
• WG A on sustainable destinations develops indicators for sustainability and works closely with the European network NECSTOUR and the EDEN Program (see paper on EU policies).
• WG B on sustainable businesses assists the EU to analyse various industry surveys and the Eurobarometer. This group also followed the EU funded study on Competitiveness of the European Tourism and the different knowledge networks that are equally funded by the EU.
• TWG C on consumers develops strategies to raise the awareness of consumers for sustainability issues. This groups equally followed very closely the progress of the Calypso study and participated in numerous Calypso meetings.

As a member of WG C, I have attended several Calypso meetings organised in different member states by the EU aiming at discussing the progress of the report with a broad range of stakeholders (see paper on EU policies). I had the pleasure to be invited to the Madrid conference of the European Tourism Ministers (see Madrid Declaration) with the consequence of an extra 4 days in Madrid due to the famous ash cloud! An extraordinary and positive experience (particularly for a tourism researcher) for a colleague and me were stuck together with 700 other people coming mainly from South America and on their way to London in the biggest congress hotel in Madrid. With all ‘guests’ having chosen the ‘right’ airlines taken in charge the totality of the stay, there was a rather relaxed atmosphere and numerous encounters between people. The situation at the airport (where we had to change our tickets about every second day) was not all that relaxed for some airlines didn’t cover any expenses, and with all means of transport fully booked or overpriced, the atmosphere became rather tense. (We got home by bus – 20 hour trip from Madrid to Brussels after Brussels airlines decided not to pay anymore hotels but organise return by other means of transport)

Being more implicated in EU activities and therefore in contact with ETAG members, I have been re-invited by ETAG to participate in some of their meetings. Since ATLAS left ETAG about 3 years ago, there have been some changes in the group. There is a new focus on SME’s and the current members seem to have a renewed and greater interest in tourism research and collaboration with universities... to be followed....

On a research level, Angelique Lombaerts and Jacques Vork from InHolland submitted a very well thought and interesting FP7 project on ‘International research on events and city marketing’ with numerous partners from ATLAS. Unfortunately, the EU didn’t retain the project.....



Annual review of activities 2009


Anya Diekmann Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium Anya Diekman is the Co-ordinator of ATLAS Europe.

Compared to the previous year with numerous conferences, this year was more characterized by research projects and the invitation to become a member of the Sustainable Tourism Group (TSG) of the European Commission as representative of ATLAS.

  1. As announced in the last report 2008, the research project concerning the ‘Employment in the social tourism sector’ integrating several ATLAS partners for qualitative research has been successfully finished and is available on the BITS website (
  2. After this rewarding experience, we (Université Libre de Bruxelles) decided together with the Nottingham University Business School to introduce a project for the European Frame program 7 (FP7) on Transforming Societies: Social Tourism (ST:TS).  Atlas as organisation is partner of the proposal. If our proposal is successful, Atlas would participate in conference organisation and networking and would receive 0,5 FTE for several months.
  3. The tourism sustainability group (TSG) has first been set up in 2004 by the Tourism Unit of the DG Enterprise. The group is composed by representative of international bodies, member state governments, tourism industry, environmental organisations, trade unions and research and educational bodies. It participates in policy making and drafts reports on tourism sustainability issues in the EU. The last report of 2007 proposes 3 major aims for the sustainability of European Tourism: Economic prosperity; Social equity and cohesion and environmental and cultural protection.

In January 2009, the 3rd group has been set up, this time with new members. The latest TSG is divided into three Working groups: WG A -, WG B – and WG C – consumers.

Cyprus doc

European Union Update A Flash Eurobarometer survey “Survey on the attitudes of Europeans towards tourism” was conducted to collect citizens' views, details of holidays and travel in 2007 and 2008 and their plans regarding holidays in 2009. The fieldwork was conducted from 14 to 18 February 2009. Over 27,000 randomly selected citizens aged 15 and over were interviewed in the 27 EU Member States. Detailed information on all relevant EU tourism issues, such as latest updating of tourism policies or call for tenders, can be found on the Tourism Unit website:



Annual review of activities 2006


Peter M Burns University of Brighton, United Kingdom Peter Burns is the new Co-ordinator of ATLAS Europe. This short interview provides more information about his profile and aspirations for the regional network:

Tell us a little bit about yourself (current role, research interests, etc)

I have a really mixed background and three distinct careers but seem to have found my spiritual home in tourism. I started out as a chef and did my apprenticeship at the Mayfair hotel in London after which I joined Brian Cotterill's new brigade at Le Caprice where I was chef saucier for several years. I then moved into teaching at vocational level (my second career) and ended up as Director of the Fiji Hotel School. I lived in Fiji and around the Pacific islands for about seven years and then came back to the UK where I finished off my education by taking two MAs in one year (Anthropology of Tourism and Education), started work at the Polytechnic of North London, met Greg Richards who was just starting ATLAS, did my PhD and the rest (as they say) is history!

In terms of research, there are two sides I guess: the empirical stuff I do as a consultant which relates directly to tourism planning and development, national master plans and so on. In recent years I have become increasingly interested in the visual side of tourism and have written about national symbols and iconography and recently had published a paper that analysed 'six postcards from Arabia' drawing on semiotics and postcolonial studies. I was really pleased with it. I like the idea of looking for complex answers to seemingly simple conundrums. At present I am working with a colleague from Oxford Brookes University on analysing home movie material from the South East Film and Video Archive. We call the project 'Revealing the English Seaside' and its an attempt to draw on the work of Zygmunt Bauman and Walter Benjamin to make theoretical sense of the seaside, perhaps the idea that these fragments of the past can enable some sort of existential copresence between then and now.

You have been a member of ATLAS for some time. Do any particular experiences stick in your mind?

There are three anecdotes that spring immediately to mind. Unfortunately I can't tell them to you for legal reasons! Surely though, the highlight of the entertainment has to be the Mafia evening in Leeuwarden, it was just hilarious and got completely out of control - or was that just me? What this question does however, is trigger enormous feelings of loyalty and warmth to ATLAS as an organisation that is a reflection of the energy put into it by the members.

How does it feel to be Co-ordinator of ATLAS Europe?

I am not sure the words 'coordinate' and 'ATLAS' sit easily together! However, we will see the results of previous efforts at coordination in Lodz in September at our annual conference.

How do you see the future of ATLAS Europe?

Given ATLAS's global coverage, it is becoming obvious that some sort of convergence is taking place between the various factions: Africa and Asia Pacific continue to grow in strength though we need further development in the Americas. The changing nature of university roles and funding means that we are probably approaching a time when the core aims need to be reassessed and perhaps refocused. The answer to the question 'What is ATLAS for' can no longer simply be 'to network'. The internet allows us to do that, we must figure out how to extract value from the relationships and that might be through joint research bids and using ATLAS as a framework to develop funded links between regions.

Any strong feelings about EU issues (Brit prejudices aside!)?

I am a strong supporter of the European project and 'feel' European. I wish we in Britain would just get on and fully commit -including the euro. We need a strong and united Europe to counteract the growing economic strength of China and to respond to the US as its military power rises seemingly in proportion to its economic decline. Europe has the opportunity to show that left-of-centre politics and not simply so-called free markets can provide social justice and economic development. Perhaps we need to remind ourselves that as Martin Cruz-Smith says "Wolves eat dogs."



Introduction 2004

Melanie Smith University of Greenwich, United Kingdom

On behalf of the Board members, I am pleased to say that the first year of ATLAS Europe has been an interesting and successful one. As members will be aware, ATLAS has grown significantly on an international scale in recent years, therefore it was considered appropriate for there to be a new regional Board focusing specifically on European issues. Although there are clear overlaps with activities that take place on an international scale (e.g. Special Interest Group research), there are a number of existing and planned initiatives that relate specifically to Europe.

One of the main aims of the Board was to revive ATLAS's focus on education, especially at a time when a number of major changes are taking place throughout European Higher Education Institutions. The Co-ordinator asked for an expression of interest in educational projects or bids, and there was a positive response from members. The first decision was to establish links with the ATHE (Association for Tourism in Higher Education) and the LTSN (Learning and Teaching Support Network for Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism). Although these are UK-based networks, it is hoped that other European educational networks will be approached in due course. Any members who are currently co-ordinating or participating in such networks in other countries may want to send us details of those organisations.

ATLAS members have been invited to attend the next ATHE education conference on Critical Issues in Tourism Education, 1st - 3rd December 2004 at Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College, UK (see for further details). Members currently undertaking educational research might like to consider publishing in the Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Education (JoHLSTE) ( For example, if any members are presenting papers at the Naples conference with an educational focus, they may want to approach this journal. Also, if anyone has ideas for interesting educational research projects or potential European bids, they should contact Professor John Tribe (, Chair of ATHE and Editor of JOHLSTE, in the first instance.

It is recognised that not all ATLAS Europe members have the time to undertake extensive research, as many members have heavy teaching loads and may be more concerned about educational issues. Members are encouraged to use the ATLAS Europe discussion forum ( to air their views on this subject, and might like to consider engaging in debates about student recruitment and retention, student mobility, innovative teaching methods, assessment, etc. Of course, members are also encouraged to air their views about other issues too! Please do use this facility as a discussion forum, as we can engage in some interesting debates that might help to take the work of ATLAS forward. Those members who use other discussion networks like Trinet will know that this can work very well.

The ATLAS Winter University in Europe was a regular feature in the ATLAS educational calendar for many years. Unfortunately, the event has not run for the past couple of years, mainly because it has been difficult to secure venues and funding. Those who have attended this event in the past will know what a wonderful experience it is for students and staff alike! For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, it is usually a weeklong event that takes place in a European venue (normally a University or college) in January. Past locations include Viana do Castelo in Portugal, Pecs in Hungary, and Portoroz in Slovenia. The programme consists of daily lectures on a range of tourism-related topics, afternoon workshops with different themes (e.g. urban tourism, cultural tourism, tourism policy, marketing, leisure and popular culture), and a series of social events and excursions. Staff are usually accompanied by 10 - 15 students, therefore it becomes an exciting international forum for interaction, learning and fun. It would be wonderful if this event could be revived. If any ATLAS members would like to host a Winter University or are interested in participating with their students, please do contact us.

An interesting idea that was discussed briefly at the last Board meeting, was the idea of producing a publication on Tourism in the New Europe. Members would be asked to produce chapters or case studies on tourism in the EU accession countries. If anyone is interested in editing or contributing to a potential publication, please contact Melanie Smith ( Future editors and authors should benefit from the support and guidance of a new ATLAS sub-group on Editing and Publishing, which will be discussed at the Naples conference, and hopefully established soon afterwards (see ATLAS World Co-ordinator John Swarbrooke's Report for further details).

Members might be interested in consulting the ATLAS web page for more details about ETAG (The European Travel and Tourism Action Group, (see ATLAS has now had close links with this organisation for some time, and a representative usually attends their meetings. This is a very useful source of information on European tourism policies, agencies, and trends.

Although it is recognised that European funding sources are becoming harder to access, we are hoping that at least one member of the European Board will be focusing on research bids in the future. Ideally, we would create a sub-group of interested members who could work on identifying funding sources and developing interesting bids. Please do volunteer if you have strengths and expertise in this area. Many ATLAS members are keen to become involved in joint research projects, but clearly ideas and funding need to be generated. This is a real advantage of joining the ATLAS Special Interest Groups, but it is recognised that research opportunities should also exist beyond those groups for the wider European membership. Just to remind members, if they would like to include ATLAS in one of their own research bids, they need to write the ATLAS World Co-ordinator's institution, Sheffield Hallam University, and not ATLAS on the partner form.

We look forward to welcoming you at the Naples 2004 conference. Future European conferences are likely to take place in Lodz, Poland (2005), Antalya, Turkey (2006), and possibly Greenwich, England (2007).


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