The ASEAN Tourism Research Association (ATRA) network was established by Taylor’s University, and is now contributing to developing tourism research in the region.
Dr Neethia (centre) and Dr Frederic Bouchon (far right) with delegates at ATRA Conference at PSU (Thailand)
The ASEAN Tourism Research Association Conference (ATRAC) 2018 was held at Prince of Songkla University (PSU) in Phuket (Thailand) with the theme “ASEAN – Sustainable Connectivity, Boundless Prosperity”. The conference was organised by the ASEAN Tourism Research Association (ATRA) which is a tourism association for regional higher education institutions (HEI), and is an initiative of Taylor’s University. The organisation was started 5-years ago, and it now has 18-member institutions from across the ASEAN region.
The focus of the association is to develop a better understanding and collaboration between ASEAN institutions involved in tourism education. It aims to foster tourism research through scholarly activities, capacity building and research projects. ATRA has helped to develop much closer working relationships between ASEAN Institutions. Every year, ATRA organises a conference coinciding with the main ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF). Dr. Neethia Ari Ragavan, the current President of ATRA (and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Hospitality, Leisure and Food at TU) stressed that “ATRA Conference has now grown into being an established regional conference with participation from all over ASEAN countries and beyond”. The ATRA 2018 Conference was timely to reflect on a number of important questions on the growth of tourism.
A number of papers presented in this conference did seek to investigate this challenging question. Dr. Prathana Kannaovakun, Dean at PSU and the Conference Chair said, “Tourism is an economic driver playing a significant role on the prosperity of many countries in ASEAN. But the question now is how can we develop lasting and sustainable tourism in our region – these are now the crucial issues we face going forward”. Taylor’s University academic, Dr. Frederic Bouchon, who was the Head of the Scientific Committee of ATRAC 2018, noted that more than 45 papers were submitted to the peer-review process. He added, “Environmental concerns, quality issues, sustainability and digitalization of tourism appear to be the main themes across submissions”. The majority of the papers presented at the conference came from researchers based in ASEAN countries – but also came from researchers Australia, India, Japan and Kenya who have an interest in ASEAN. ATRA has now been ‘recognised’ as Civil Society Organisation (CSO) to ASEAN, and the forthcoming ATRA 2019 Conference will be held in Vietnam.