Future Past of Tourism: Critical Reflection’s on the Rise of Tourism Futures

U McMahon-Beattie,, Ian Yeoman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Given the presence of societal scale risks such as pandemics, war, climate change and artificial technology, the future of tourism will operate increasingly in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world. As such the present course of tourism research is unsustainable. In this paper, the authors draw upon the evolutionary paradigm in futures studies to identify a series of historical turning points in the development of tourism futures research. These include forecasting tourism demand using quantitative methods; the appointment of the world’s first tourism scenario planner; the establishment of the European Tourism Futures Institute; the creation of academic credibility through the Journal of Tourism Futures; the effect of COVID-19 on tourism research; and finally, the accelerator effect of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on our consciousness and awareness of the future. In conclusion, the authors offer a series of futures turning points identifying the direction of tourism futures, scenario planning and foresight within the realm of tourism research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalTourism Geographies
Early online date25 Oct 2023
Publication statusPublished online - 25 Oct 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Over the next four years, EFTI working with stakeholders within the provenance of Friesland and the Netherlands more broadly undertook a range of scenario projects including The Future of Zoos (Jong, ), The Future of Backpacking (Vaals, ), The Future of Visitor Attractions in the Netherlands (Postma, ) and (Revier, ). The first project, beyond the SSN grant was Notting Hill Carnival Futures 2020 (Postma et al., ) which proved that ETFI could work outside its original remit. Thus, as the grant funding from SNN came to an end in 2014, ETFI reputation was growing and they were asked to undertake an increasingly number of international projects for the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the World Tourism and Travel Council (WTTC), the European Travel Commission (ETC), European Cities Marketing (ECM, now called City Destinations Alliance), European Association of European Tour Operators (ETOA), and the Travel Foundation (TF). As a result, ETFI was becoming self-financing and sustainable.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Scenarios
  • scenario planning
  • foresight
  • tourism futures
  • forecasting
  • turning points


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