Nordic Symposia of Tourism and Hospitality Research as a network for Russian-European academic cooperation development
Sergey Ilkevich, Cand. Sc. (Economics), Associate Prof. Higher School of Tourism, Hospitality and Design, firstname.lastname@example.org
Russian State University of Tourism and Hospitality, Moscow Region
Abstract. The article describes the experience of representatives of Russian state university of Tourism and Service participation in the annual Scandinavian Symposia of tourism and hospitality researchers, which has been gradually formed as a large scientific community over 25 years and has been an important platform for Russian-European academic cooperation in recent years. At the beginning of the article, the author describes the general context of Russian-Scandinavian cooperation, including some aspects of national and international programs and mechanisms for the organization of cooperation projects and activities that are available today. Then the paper presents generalizations on the basis of meta-analysis for the main thematic areas and topical aspects of tourism, which have been at the center of scientific interests of Scandinavian researchers in the field of tourism and hospitality. The completeness and diversity of topics at Scandinavian symposia are not only extremely interesting and very promising in terms of international scientific and practical knowledge in the field of tourism and hospitality, but also very compatible and complementary to those research issues that are most relevant for the development of the tourism and hospitality sector in Russia. For that reason, a greater participation of Russian representatives in the Scandinavian symposia of tourism and hospitality researcher could be of great interest and a large common good for both sides (Scandinavian/European and Russian) in terms of possible new conceptual frameworks, new and hybrid methodologies, comparative studies and the arrangement of international scientific and educational projects. The article also illustrates the positive externalities of the development of Scandinavian-Russian project activities, which include organizing by Scandinavian colleagues additional research seminars for Russian academic visitors and also good joint publication possibilities. The author also elaborates on topics of the most recent meetings at Nordic symposiums and at additional research seminars, as well as possible further topics for joint research and the organization of new project activities.
Key words: academic cooperation, scholar network, sustainability, responsible tourism, innovation, experiences, Arctic, nature-based tourism, liminality, walking trails, urban, second-home, redevelopment of post-industrial areas, Nordic, Russian-European.
For citation: Ilkevich S.V., Nordic Symposia of Tourism and Hospitality Research as a network for Russian-European academic cooperation development. Servis plus, vol. 11, no. 4, 2017, pp. 125-131. DOI: 10.22412/1993-7768-11-4-13.
Introduction to the context of Russian-European tourism academic cooperation within the Scandinavian research community framework
Over the whole duration (2013 – present time) of the cooperation between University College of Southeast Norway (USN, previously known as University College of Telemark) and Russian State University of Tourism and Service (RSUTS), several Russian scholars from RSUTS were provided with highly valuable and in a way unique opportunities of participating in international tourism-focused research conferences, primarily, in the annual Nordic Symposium of Tourism and Hospitality Research (also known as Nordic Tourism Symposium, hosted in turns by the Scandinavian countries and Finland), which in the year 2017 was held on October 4-6 in Falun, Sweden. The presence of RSUTS researchers at several recent Symposiums was facilitated by the SIU (Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Education) and Erasmus+ Academic Staff Mobility Programmes with a big multi-facet collaborative effort on the part of Department of Business and IT of University College of Southeast Norway. The major project “Education in the field of sustainable tourism development in Russia”, funded by the SIU, started in 2013 and ended in 2016 .
This article focuses primarily on two areas in order to highlight the multi-facet usefulness and very high relevance of Nordic Tourism Symposiums for Russian tourism and hospitality researchers. The first area is related to the description of some key experiences of Russian participants over the recent years and overall context of the integration of Russian teachers/academics into Scandinavian and European networks of academic exchange and cooperation in the field of tourism and hospitality. The second area is related to explaining in some detail a remarkable openness of Nordic Tourism Symposium to Russia-related tourism studies. Some key topicalities, which have been at centre of attention over the last several years, will be specifically accentuated, partially for the purpose of potential Russian scholar participants having a better and clearer idea with regards to which research trends and topicalities are presently considered as most influential in European/Scandinavian tourism and hospitality research networks. The article will also be mentioning some particular meeting, discussion and collaborative publications over the course of the last several years, which were directly or indirectly linked to the overall Russian-Norwegian tourism academic cooperation and the participation of RSUTS representatives in Nordic Symposiums of Tourism and Hospitality Research.
Top 6 major topic areas at the last four Symposiums of Tourism and Hospitality Research
Although it is very difficult and unavoidably imprecise to summarize all the diversity of topics at the most recent conferences and provide an overall classification of key research areas, with some simplicity there can be highlighted the following six groupings for major research areas, which have been widely discussed and covered by the Scandinavian tourism and hospitality scholar community. In other words, these topicality areas are a result of a meta-analysis of key highlights of the 23th-26th Nordic Tourism Symposiums (held over the years 2014-2017). The respective books of abstracts are laid out in open-access, and can be found at the web-addresses, mentioned in the references section [11; 12; 13; 14].
Topic 1. Inclusiveness and inclusivity of tourism development. Key topicalities in this area include primarily the following ones: sustainability, governance, reformulating tourism destination development in terms of responsible tourism, ethical tourism consumption in relation to local empowerment and environmental protection, environmental awareness, climate change, optimal and sub-optimal rights of public access, protected areas and their transformation in the context of rapid tourism development, land use, development of resilient destination communities, environmental pedagogic, stakeholder cooperation, networks, social impacts, volunteering, accessibility, regional identity, skill transfers, green tourism, indigenous tourism.
Topic 2. The role of innovations and digital applications. Key topicalities in this area include primarily the following ones: disruptive innovation, digitalization, visiualization, social media, big data, e-tourism, problems of a hyper-connected world, co-creation innovations, fostering entrepreneurship.
Topic 3. Tourist experiences and their sophistication. Key topicalities here include primarily the following ones: new types of attractions, new experiences, visitor satisfaction, festivals, events, storytelling, discourse analysis, long-distance hiking, experiential economics, geographical imaginaries of consumption.
Topic 4. Tourism in peripheral areas. Key topicalities here include primarily the following ones: local-global power dynamics, experiential core, “Periphery” Arctic, limility, second home culture, value creation in second home tourism and lifestyle, development strategies in peripheral regions, urban sub-cultures, redevelopment of post-industrial areas.
Topic 5. New focuses in tourism consumption. Key topicalities in this area include primarily the following ones: sharing, foodies, seafood festivals, food quality, destination gastronomy, food and culinary experiences, elderly tourism, growing diversity, new approaches to demand segmentation, green consumption.
Topicality 6. Destination development priorities. Key topicalities here include primarily the following ones: destination management tools, destination marketing, city destination issues, transformations in the role of public sector, tourism policies and their long-term implications, innovations in tourism planning, smart cities, shifts in branding strategies.
Russia-related topics at Nordic Symposiums of Tourism and Hospitality Research and beyond
This year the 26th Nordic Symposium on Tourism and Hospitality Research: Tourism in a Hyper-Connected World: Challenges of Interactivity and Connectedness, held on October 4th -6th, 2017, Falun, Sweden had a distinct Russia-focused section – Session 7 “Nordic-Baltic-Russian Tourism Development Perspectives” with the following key highlights:
- “Cross-border tourism: Challenges for cooperation in the Visit Arctic Europe area” presented by Bente Heimtun (UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Norway), José-Carlos García-Rosell (University of Lapland, Finland) & Hans Gelter (Luleå University of Technology, Sweden)
- “Arctic Tourism Development in Russia: Foreseeable Risks and Black Swans” presented by Per Strömberg (School of Business; University College of Southeast Norway, Norway) & Sergey Ilkevich (Russian State University of Tourism and Service, Russia)
- “Benefits and risks of the increasing tourism flows into the Russian Arctic” presented by Albina Pashkevich (CeTLER, Dalarna University, Sweden)
It should be particularly emphasized that although Nordic researchers are expectedly and very understandably of a very high appreciation of Anglo-American tourism paradigms, perspectives, contributions and tourism research frameworks, on many occasions they stress their particular interest in possible peculiarities of Russian tourism research approaches, methodologies, and concepts in order to balance and counterweigh the dominant position of Anglo-American influences and mindsets and, as a result, for everyone in the international tourism research community to have a more versatile toolbox of perspectives. Russian tourism research appears now to be a sort of enigma which is unfolded. But, although some Russian tourism perspectives indeed could have become internationally competitive and influential, this is the sheer absence of Russian scholars both at international research venues and international academic writing collectives which after all precludes Russia from becoming visible in international tourism research. More than that Russia is in many ways a remarkable case of complex tourism development in a large developing/transitioning economy [4; 9], and that facet is also of a major interest for international colleagues.
For that reason, in addition to Nordic Symposiums of Tourism and Hospitality Research the Department of Business and IT of University College of Southeast Norway over the period of 2014-2017 arranged and held several combined research seminars at each visit of Russian colleagues to Bø Campus, which were devoted to several perspective fields of tourism development in Russia, including the following major topics: car-tourism clusters, eco-tourism, nature-based tourism, rural tourism, and suburban walking trails.
Figure 1. Alexander Ermakov (RSUTS), the first on the right side of the photo, presenting the study on car-tourism and caravanning development in Russia [1; 2; 3; 8] for Norwegian and Russian colleagues at a research seminar in Bø Campus, USN (then University College of Telemark), May 12th, 2014.
Figure 2. Sergey Ilkevich (RSUTS) presenting and discussing a concept of suburban walking trails development for Russia’s major cities  with colleagues from University College of Southeast Norway: Per Strömberg, Mikkel Bjørset Tin, Ingeborg Nordbø, and Gudrun Helgadottir at a research seminar in Bø Campus, USN. October, 3rd, 2017.
Another very positive and productive additional activity within Russian-Scandinavian cooperative efforts in the field of tourism and hospitality was an invitation in writing a collective monograph on Arctic tourism, which focuses on specific tourist experiences in geographic peripheries of the Arctic, with chapters examining particular cases of interaction of tourist experiences production and consumption in the Arctic in the context of liminality and threats to sustainability, which combined constitute the so-called “experiential core” that offers peak tourism experiences .
Figure 3. An international kick-off seminar meeting for the editors and co-writers of the monograph “Arctic tourism experiences: production, consumption & sustainability” , including Per Strömberg (USN) and Sergey Ilkevich (RSUTS), on 1 June, 2015, Alta, Norway.
Chapter 18 of the book, published in 2017, under the title “Arctic Tourism in Russia: Attractions, Experiences, Challenges and Potentials” as well as some other collaborative publications in journals  were devoted to prospects and limitations of Arctic tourism development in Russia, focusing both on systemic long-term factors and the most recent developments.
Figure 4. The cover of the Book: Arctic tourism experiences: production, consumption & sustainability. Ed. Y.-S. Lee, D. Weaver N. Prebensen. Wallington, Oxfordshire, UK; Boston, MA, USA: CABI, 2017, 218 p.
Perspective developments in Norwegian-Russian academic cooperation in the field of tourism and hospitality
As the latest development in Russian-Scandinavian cooperation, Per Strömberg and Anne Gry Sturød from University College of Southeast Norway during their visit to Moscow over the workweek October 9th-13th, 2017 substantiated a high topicality, novelty and offered combined Norwegian-Russian research opportunities for studies in urban development and redevelopment of post-industrial areas in Moscow and other Russia’s major cities in the context of changes in tourist motives, expectations and destination perceptions. This field of tourism research may present important and influential findings, specifically with regards to how such renovated areas become significant tertiary and in some cases secondary attractions of the cities, and what can be undertaken in terms of city development and territorial marketing to further increase their role as a tool of increasing tourist flows, prolonging visitation periods, improving visitor satisfaction and diversifying city tourist offers as well as enlarging the range of types of tourism. Both the results of planned studies as well as expected methodological specificities of their conduct may become a very appropriate subject for possible future participation of Russian scholars in Nordic Symposiums of Tourism and Hospitality Research.
- Ermakov A.S., Autotourism itinerary development methodology. Vestnik Assotsiatsii vuzov turizma i servisa, vol. 8, no. 3, 2014, pp. 39-44. (In Russ.)
- Ermakov A.S., Kondakova T.Yu., Development of caravanning and trailering in depressed rural settlements of the nonblack soil zone of central russia. Servis v Rossii i za rubezhom, no. 2 (49), 2014, pp. 24-33. (In Russ.)
- Ermakov A.S., Korneev A.A., Cherepanov D.A., Trailering accommodation requirements: analysis of specifications. Servis plus, vol. 8, no. 2, 2014, pp. 65-70. (In Russ.)
- Ilkevich S.V., Tourism industry in the economically developed and developing countries: comparative analysis of the growth features. Servis v Rossii i za rubezhom, vol. 10, no. 9 (70), 2016, pp. 15-27. (In Russ.)
- Ilkevich S.V., Organizational and economic principles of design, development and improvement of suburban walking trails. Servis v Rossii i za rubezhom, vol. 11, no. 3 (73), 2017, pp. 62-76. (In Russ.)
- Ilkevich S.V., Strömberg P., Aspects of competitiveness of the Nenets and Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous districts as destinations of Arctic tourism. Servis plus, vol. 10, no. 3, 2016, pp. 10-17. (In Russ.)
- Arctic tourism experiences: production, consumption & sustainability. Y.-S. Lee, D. Weaver N. Prebensen. Wallington, Oxfordshire, UK; Boston, MA, USA: CABI, 2017, 218 p.
- Ermakov S.A., Ilkevich S.V., Ermakov A.S. Information resources strategy in the promotion of Russia’s rural tourism attractions // World Applied Sciences Journal. 2014. Vol. 30. Issue 30. Pp. 91-92.
- Ilkevich S. Service management issues in tourism and hospitality in Russia: some lessons from international studies // Tourism in transition economies: issues and challenges for destination competitiveness. Conference Proceedings. Caceres, Spain. 2015. Pp. 36-40.
- Ilkevich S.V., Stroemberg P.G.J., Sakharchuk E.S. An Outlook at the Russian education in the field of tourism through the prism of the sustainable tourism paradigm // СервисвРоссииизарубежом. 2016. Т. 10. № 8 (69). С. 120-132.
- The 23rd Nordic Symposium on Tourism and Hospitality Research: The Value(s) of Tourism. 1-4 October 2014, Copenhagen, Denmark. Available at https://conference.cbs.dk/index.php/23th/NSTHR/schedConf/cfp (Accessed on 23.10.2017).
- The 24th Nordic Symposium on Tourism and Hospitality Research: Responsible Tourism? 1-3 October 2015, Reykjavik, Iceland. Book of Abstracts. Available at http://www.rmf.is/static/research/files/ns-book-of-abstracts-websmallpdf (Accessed on 23.10.2017)
- The 25th Nordic Symposium on Tourism and Hospitality Research: 25 Years of Nordic Tourism and Hospitality Research – Balancing Dichotomies. 28-30 September 2016, Turku, Finland. Available at http://www.utu.fi/en/sites/25thnordicsymposium/programme/Pages/home.aspx (Accessed on 23.10.2017).
- The 26th Nordic Symposium on Tourism and Hospitality Research: Tourism in a Hyper-Connected World: Challenges of Interactivity and Connectedness. 4-6 October 2017, Falun, Sweden. Book of Abstracts. Available at http://www.du.se/contentassets/b57ff419153e4eaca61f394b531b5cf0/26-nsthr-book-of-abstracts-2017-002.pdf (Accessed on 23.10.2017).