Unlocking the Economic Potential of Tourism Industry post COVID-19 - Call for Papers

This year’s ADB-Asian Think Tank Development Forum will provide a venue to share ideas and experiences among affiliated scholars on the policies and strategies that countries should pursue to mitigate the big slump in the tourism industry. Deadline 30 September 2020.

ADB-Asian Think Tank Development Forum 2020

The past 10 years had seen steady growth in global tourism. Encouraged by the liberalization of air travel market, emergence of budget airlines, and innovations in digital and mobile technology that facilitated bookings for accommodations and airfares, the number of international tourists rose to from 920 million in 2008 to around 1.45 billion in 2018. A third of international tourists are visitors to Asia, with intraregional tourists accounting for 79.1% spurred by solid economic growth and greater tourism cooperation in the region. Extraregional tourists, likewise, increased by nearly 6.4 million between 2017 and 2018.

Tourism’s most visible economic impact is the significant financial inflows it generates—around $1.6 trillion in visitor spending in 2018. For many Asian economies, tourism is a significant income source. Its 2018 share of GDP is nearly 60% in Maldives and around 40% in Palau. Across Asia, tourism generated financial inflows of around $411 billion in tourism receipts. It boosts physical and digital infrastructure investment, strengthens people-to-people linkages, promotes entrepreneurship, and stimulates employment, especially in emerging markets and developing Asia.

Boosting tourist arrivals and maximizing tourism receipts are often simultaneous targets in national tourism plans but may not be achieved at the same time. Comparing the average annual growth rate of tourism receipts and international arrivals suggests the most-visited countries may not necessarily experience the same degree of growth in tourism earnings. Moreover, given the tourists’ and tourism industry’s growing environmental footprints, it is imperative to come up with eco-friendly solution to developing tourism industries.

With the many benefits of tourism, Asian countries explore strategies that would increase tourists and maximize visitor experience by offering high-value, quality experiences. These strategies include development of hard infrastructure like mass transport systems, public facilities, and technology that eases immigration procedures. Tourism strategies that primarily target the development of hard infrastructure—such as aviation and mass transport, public facilities, and technology that eases immigration procedures—tend to attract more tourists as long as the infrastructure are in place. Cohesive execution of tourism policy, regulatory environment, and strategy; infrastructure; human resources; and marketing and product development that considers the interests of multiple stakeholders are important to maximize gains and promote sustainability.

The current global pandemic on coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has hit the tourism industry hard. UNWTO data showed a 22% decline in international tourism globally for Q1 2020, and further estimates a 60%-80% decline for the whole year. There were 67 million less tourists and $80 billion loss in exports compared to Q1 2019. Worse, these figures translate to millions of jobs and livelihoods lost. In this sense, it’s imperative for policy makers to contemplate viable strategies to address the new health security challenges and steer the flagging tourism industry back on track in the foreseeable future.

Questions to be addressed

This year’s ADB-Asian Think Tank Development Forum will provide a venue to share ideas and experiences among affiliated scholars on the policies and strategies that countries should pursue to mitigate the big slump in the tourism industry. The following questions will be explored:

  • Can tourism industry contribute to inclusive and sustainable economic development and growth? How should tourism industry evolve and how should we educate and train tourism professionals to maximize the tourism industry’s economic impact on sustainable development?
  • What is the likely impact / How to measure negative impact of COVID-19 on tourism industry and receipts?
  • What national and regional level tourism policies would help to cope with growing challenges of natural disasters and health security (pandemic)?
  • What are the backward and forward industrial linkages of tourism industry domestically and internationally and what are the ways to strengthen these channels?
  • How can big data be used to better manage tourism and to make it more sustainable?
  • How can the tourism industry become more environmentally sustainable?
  • What are the main obstacles in the development of sustainable tourism? What are the available policy options?

PAPER SUBMISSION PROCEDURE: Interested authors should submit a original, unpublished draft paper with one page summary to Jong Woo Kang ([email protected]) and Aleli Rosario ([email protected]). This is an open-ended call for proposals, but authors who wish to be considered as presenters for the workshop are requested to submit the proposal by 30 September 2020. A selection committee will screen the papers for presentation. Authors whose papers have been selected will be notified by 10 October 2020. For each accepted manuscript, ADB will cover economy class travel cost, accommodation, and daily subsistence allowance of one presenter in accordance with ADB guidelines for the duration of the conference, which will be held early 2021 in Manila. Subject to the development of pandemic situation, the organizer may decide to hold a virtual forum instead in November 2020. Submission of high quality papers will be recognized through a prize. The highest quality paper will be awarded USD 3,000 and two papers in the second ranking USD 2,000 each.

The Selection Committee will comprise:

  • Asian Development Bank (Jong Woo Kang and Matthias Helble)
  • Partner institution representatives (tbc)