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Geopolitics EU Expansion and Tourism Growth- ETFI Research Line Peter Singleton

This week ETFI researacher Peter Singleton introduces his line of research: Geopolitics, EU Expansion and Tourism Growth.

Developing a research line
By means of this blog I would like to explain the research I am doing at the moment and how it relates to ETFI and  its core goals. This research line has developed from research I did for my Masters dissertation (my Masters was in International Relations and World Order) on whether the West has lost its way in terms of military intervention scenarios. Many academic commentators pose similar questions and some now openly assert that the status quo that has existed since the fall of the Iron curtain has dissipated or unravelled. This unravelling process means that the basis of international systems of preserving order are now depleted, giving rise to the attendant dangers (military aggression or terrorism) as a result. From asking those types of questions (for my Masters research) I am now asking what the geopolitical forces might be that are impacting the EU, and, in the absence of the old status quo, what might be the effects on the development of tourism. The connection is the existence or absence of order and security. Put another way, the threat (or reality) of conflict is a game breaker for tourism, undermining its very foundation.

 EU Expansion
The research is focussed on questions relating to a particular process which is taking place (EU expansion) and how this is linked to a certain stream of democratic system (known as consolidated democracy). One of the key features of this type of democracy is the creation of institutions (Parliaments, Judiciaries, Police forces, Armies) and processes (elections, free speech, rule of law, independence between institutions), which protect and safeguard order. Not only is the preservation of order necessary for tourism to flourish but it also is the pre requisite for economic growth and as such a very crucial societal commodity. You might argue that whether consolidated democracy exists in the EU or is successful, is debatable. What is beyond doubt however, is the expansion of the EU eastwards in the aftermath of the cold war. This process is ongoing with the populations of those ex soviet dominated countries showing a strong desire for the type of democracy that becoming a member of the EU not just offers but demands.

Key Researach Issues
The analysis I am putting forward then, portrays a rapidly expanding federal democratising system (the EU), being resisted by The Russian Federation as a state entity but also by other non state actors (e.g. ISIS) who hold an ideology hostile to the West. How this struggle develops will determine the existence or not of order (patterns of unrest and conflict) at the eastern margin of Europe and more generally in all EU countries and the West. In addition to this they are a few other geopolitical factors at play here, which I will not go into in depth here. The key research issues are then: does consolidated democracy enhance order, economic development and therefore tourism growth? Can we see a democratising effect in countries who accede to the EU (for example Croatia) and to what extent has this affected the growth of tourism. If this link  is proven we have some stable conclusions to take into the construction of scenario planning into how tourism flows will develop in expanding EU.

Expected output of Research
That brings us to some other considerations such as how can this be effectively researched, what might the results reveal and who might be interested. Well the EU is most definitely an openly democratising entity with quite transparent goals in this regard. The preservation and enlargement of order as the basis of travel and trade is the fundamental goal of the EU. The bigger and the more even the playing field is, the more trade and tourism can flourish, to the benefit of all. This means that not only does the EU invest a lot of time and effort in the expansion (accession) process but it focuses in particular on research into whether accession agreements are working and what are then the effects of EU membership. So there is a lot known and available regarding those countries who have acceded or who are planning to accede. Similarly, there is a lot of information regarding how their tourism has developed over the same periods. What is not known of course is how things will develop from now on. This is a (to coin a phrase) “known unknown”. So another area of the research is to use the data we have currently to build scenarios of how the tourism future might look for those countries who are on the expansion side of Europe i.e. the Eastern side. One of the outputs of this research, along with academic literature, might be further construction of information gathering networks in those countries, but also country profiles based around the particular challenges those countries face regarding the development of consolidated democracy, order and economic progress that underpin and facilitate tourism growth.

Peter Singleton

Read about the other Research Proposals
Victoria Naisola de Ruiter: 'Hospitality and Hospitableness: Future Implications for commercial operators'. 
Jorg Wenzel: 'Effectiveness of immersive virtual reality applications as marketing & sales tool within the tourism industry'. 
Wyb de Boer: 'Designing LWD2018 Tourism Futures'. 
Stefan Hartman: 'Understanding the emergence of governance arrangements'. 


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