This month we published Tourism in the Arab World edited by Hamed Almuhrzi, Hafidh Alriyami and Noel Scott. In this post Hamed explains the inspiration behind the book and outlines its main themes.
The socioeconomic changes in a number of emerging economies, including Arab countries, have enabled many people from these countries to travel. In 2015, The United Nations World Tourism Organization reported that in 2014 this region was among the fastest growing regions in terms of travel total contribution to GDP (gross domestic product). Arab tourism destinations and markets hold great potential for the tourism business; however, it appears that we know little about them.
When I started my PhD study, one of the difficulties I faced was finding literature that discussed aspects of the tourism industry within Arab countries. There was a clear scarcity in research on planning, management and marketing of Arab destinations, or on understanding Arab tourists’ behaviours and dispositions. Through conversations with colleagues, it became clear that there is a need to establish and promote a dialogue on issues that concern the Arab tourism industry and bring tourism-related discussion to the attention of international tourism literature.
The existing tourism literature seems to be confused on many issues when it comes to discussing Arab tourism phenomena. Tourism in the Arab World introduces tourism researchers to such issues. Questions such as ‘What is the Arab World?’, or ‘Who is an Arab?’ are discussed and we address how this has further implications for tourism studies. In addition, the image of Arab destinations has been associated with various risk perceptions within international tourism literature – mainly the political crisis that many Arab destinations have been witnessing and the way they have been portrayed through the international media. This volume highlights this issue and provides recommendations for dealing with it for tourism marketing organisations and tourism researchers/practitioners. It also discusses whether the generalisation of risk perceptions is justified.
From an outsider’s perspective, Arab countries seem to be perceived similarly. However, various chapters within this volume emphasise that it is important to be careful of putting all Arab destinations in the same basket when it comes to issues such as tourism development, planning or structure of the industry. It was apparent throughout the discussion that Arab tourism destinations vary in their approaches. The discussion has pinpointed several concerns that tourism researchers and practitioners need to be aware of, such as the impact of Islam, culture and the political structure of each destination, and how these factors contribute to the development of tourism in each country.
While the book tries to stimulate discussion on various tourism issues that concern Arab destinations and market, it focuses more on business aspects of the tourism industry. Hence, there are four overall themes covered in this volume:
- Tourism policy, organisation and planning
- Tourism product development
- Destination marketing
- Arab consumer behaviour
Throughout these themes, tourism researchers and practitioners can appreciate differences and complications when it comes to dealing with emerging Arab tourism destinations, which in return provide more thoughts for discussion.