Given that a subject may be defined by the books that describe it, tourism, as a subject for study, has come a long way. A decade ago, books could be fitted into a "tourism-as-business" or a "tourism-as-problem" camp. Life is more complicated now, but all of these books fall into the tourism-as-business camp. They are all aimed at the same readership: undergraduates and HND students specialising in tourism studies, leisure provision and hospitality management.
Event Management in Leisure and Tourism is a straightforward practitioner's account of managing sport, art, festival and conference events. The layout is clear, with each chapter following a set formula of checklists, flow-diagrams, case studies and self-assessment questions. The chapter on funding is particularly useful, but the three-page chapter on event evaluation is not: there seems to be confusion about the precise identification of the customer. While providing some useful practical information on event management, Watt's book is uninspiring: simply look at the one-page index for evidence.
The same cannot be said of Tourism: An Introduction , which examines tourism in three broad strands: demand-and-supply issues, tourism impacts and the future of tourism.
The first part is straightforward and neatly descriptive. As in the rest of the book, each chapter has an overview, key topics, summary, discussion questions and a list of further reading. I would dispute the myth, repeated in this and most tourism textbooks, that tourism is the world's biggest industry. This claim depends entirely on how tourism, as an economic and social activity, is defined.
The section on impacts suffers slightly from an approach that muddles the very different impacts experienced by advanced economic countries and those on their periphery. Even so, the main arguments are put forward and illustrated with a variety of useful case-study material.
Rob Davidson's Travel and Tourism in Europe also uses case studies effectively. The seven chapters provide an effective starting point for undergraduates wishing to investigate trends in European tourism. There are some interesting ideas on alternatives to the environmentally problematic need to expand airports.
Environmental matters also feature in Tourism: Principles and Practice , where they are woven into the text. This second edition is very different from the first in its clarity of layout and breadth of content. It has 21 well-written, substantial chapters and six major case studies that reflect the highest levels of technical competence on the part of the authors. It is probably the textbook of choice for undergraduate and HND tourism courses.
However, like the other books, it does not encourage students to look beyond tourism-as-business: thus the book is good only if you accept existing tourism paradigms. The problems of tourism will not go away. Unfortunately, none of these books will encourage undergraduates to seek answers beyond the obvious.
Peter Burns is head of tourism and leisure, University of Luton.
Tourism: Principles and Practice. Second Edition
Author - C. Cooper, J. Fletcher, D. Gilbert and S. Wanhill
Editor - Rebecca Shepherd
ISBN - 0 582 313 6
Publisher - Longman
Price - £19.99
Pages - 530