Keynote speaker for ICHGS-2019: Professor Dimitri Ioannides

The Organizing Committee of the 12th International Conference of the Hellenic Geographical Society is delighted to announce that Professor Dimitri Ioannides from the Mid-Sweden University, Östersund – Sweden, will be keynoting at ICHGS-2019.

Dimitri Ioannides, PhD is chaired professor of Human Geography at Mid-Sweden University as well as serving as the director of the European Tourism Research Institute. Prior to coming to Sweden he taught at Missouri State University, USA. He holds a PhD in Urban Planning and Policy Development from Rutgers – The State University of New Jersey. His primary interests are in the economic geography of tourism and tourism planning and sustainable development. Lately he has been exploring equity considerations as they relate to sustainable development. He is the co-author with Dallen Timothy of Tourism in the USA (Routledge) and has co-edited three books, including The Economic Geography of the Tourist Industry (Routledge). He edits the book series New Directions in Tourism Analysis (Routledge) and sits on the editorial boards of several journals including Tourism Geographies. He is also on the board of the International Polar Tourism Research Network. He has given keynote lectures and public speeches in various parts of the world including China, South Korea, Italy, Croatia, New Zealand, Mexico and Canada.

The keynote's title is: "(Over) Tourism and its Effects on the Spatial Transformation of Destinations : A Political Economy Approach" and will take place at 11:30 a.m. local time on Sunday, November 3, 2019


It is hard these days to avoid hearing about the so-called problem of overtourism, which is plaguing many destinations worldwide. On a daily basis, we are inundated with stories concerning invasions by ill-behaved visitors in some of the world’s most popular spots while in, many instances, local inhabitants are exhibiting growing irritation towards their guests. In numerous cities worldwide, tourism activities have had major implications on their spatial morphology and on the patterns of (im)mobility of various groups. It is not surprising, therefore, that academics as well as practitioners have sought to find workable solutions to the problem, albeit with few successful results to this date.

In this talk, I depart from the premise that the manner in which we use the term “overtourism” and other accompanying terms like “tourismophobia” is naïve and, certainly, uncritical. It mirrors a long-term misplaced tendency to react to problems rather than seeking to address the causes that lead to these in the first place. It is unfortunate that various stakeholders consistently fail to conceptualize the tourism phenomenon holistically, a problem that has been greatly reinforced during an the age of neoliberalism where laissez-faire practices prevail and democratic citizen participation has been marginalized. Matters are not helped by the tourism sector’s fragmented nature, which cause the various players involved to adopt divergent agendas as to tourism’s purpose and its relationship to sustainable development and community resilience. Despite the fact that there exists a multitude of examples of poor practice from around the globe, mistakes are consistently repeated while solutions are poorly conceived. Indeed, in many destinations problems such as growing social inequity and diminished community rights (at least for certain groups) have been rising despite repeated promises of tourism’s socioeconomic benefits.

My aim is to unpack the term “overtourism” and explore what this means for a community’s geography, mobility and overall resilience in the future. As a side-note I urge the academic community, including geographers, to adopt a far more critical approach to tourism, which examines the phenomenon from a political economy perspective. I end with a warning that we should move beyond “preaching to the choir” and take on a proactive stance in matters relating to destination development and management.

Keywords: Overtourism; neoliberalism; political economy; community development; spatial morphology; (im)mobility; resilience.