Tourism & Leisure Studies International Award for Excellence

The Journal of Tourism and Leisure Studies offers an annual award for newly published research or thinking that has been recognized to be outstanding by members of the Tourism & Leisure Studies Research Network.

Award Winners for Volume 2

The Application of Slow Movement to Tourism: Is Slow Tourism a New Paradigm?

Tourism as a leisure activity is clearly the dominant form of recreation in the twenty-first century. For years, mass tourism was the main form of tourism; however, although academics broadly use the term “mass tourism,” there is no universally accepted definition for it. Interestingly, there are not many writings that refer to the concept of mass tourism; in existing texts, it is common for authors to use the phrase “mass tourism” without defining it. Moreover, many authors prefer to refer to other writers than to define “mass tourism” in their own words. The lack of a commonly accepted definition for mass tourism is likely because the nature of tourism is multifaceted and, as an activity, is approached from different scientific fields. But the absence of a conceptual determination for mass tourism creates methodological problems, particularly when referring to its new and opposite trend—namely, the alternative forms of tourism. In recent years, significant changes in tourism demand have been recorded. The tourist choices, particularly from “mature” countries of origin, seem to have changed radically. Although some tourists, especially those derived from new markets (Russia, China, etc.), continue to follow the mass standards, many of the so-called “mature and experienced” markets seek to experience something totally different. Thus, mass tourism gradually gives way to the independent or selective tourism and, by extension, to the alternative forms of tourism. What is known in English as “slow tourism” is one of the new trends in contemporary tourism. This trend emerged from the wider trend of the so-called “Slow Movement.” By extension, slow tourism contrasts with the hitherto prevailing trend of mass tourism or fast tourism. An intense dialogue has developed over the difficulties to define and accept a concrete concept for “slow tourism.” This article is an effort to define and clarify the different meanings and aspects of “mass tourism” and “slow tourism” by conducting a literature review and, finally, concluding that slow tourism seems to be “authentic tourism.”

As you set out for Ithaka hope the voyage is a long one, full of adventure, full of discovery. Laistrygonians and Cyclops, angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them: you’ll never find things like that on your way as long as you keep your thoughts raised high, as long as a rare excitement stirs your spirit and your body. “Ithaca” by C.P.Cavafy.

Slowness is nowadays refusing the dominant logic of speed. Slow tourism is a travel philosophy acting as an antidote to the postmodern way of traveling and consuming people and places. Slow tourism is a response to the current countermovement, referred to as “tourism-phobia.” The latter is linked to antitourism protests that have spread recently in many mass tourism European destinations, which became victims of their success by entering the vicious circle of their popularity. This article restores tourism as a notion and human activity by emphasizing the needs that tourism meets as well as by highlighting the changes in people’s hearts and minds that permit its emergence as a travel practice.

The authors propose a different window to the travel world concerning the opportunities that tourism holds over the centuries, namely for human fulfillment and spiritual progress. Slow tourism is becoming the new travel paradigm as much as it constitutes a corrective remedy to our fast and ambitious productivity-centered selves, seeking to balance internal human needs with the obligations of the external daily-life performance. Espousing modes of travel that respect the norms of authenticity of the tourism experience and of involvement with the local communities brings the traveller closer to tourism’s secret weapon of changing people’s lives and mentalities. The tourist relationship with the place and the locals may be as deep as the slow pace of experiencing it permits.

The tourism scientific community has a great role to play here. Academics have the privilege to identify those concepts that act as the fundamental building blocks of political thought and everyday practice. Advocating, writing about, and practicing the unhurried, low-impact journeys give them more prominence as a tourism option and choice. This is not to suggest that research itself is changing the world. But, yes, research constructs the world sometimes in a revolutionary way. The lesson we have learnt by—slowly—working on this article is that travel maturity—just as spirituality—comes only after immersing oneself into the destinations he or she travels to, being a place or a personal mental trajectory, revaluating quality time, and abstaining from purely materialistic enjoyment.

Slow travel ideas are gaining value in the tourism and travel community, and new slow tourism routes are beginning to emerge. Establishing a new relationship with the place and time lies at the core of the current tourism experience.

- The authors: Polyxeni Moira, Dimitrios Mylonopoulos and Ekaterini Kondoudaki

Past Award Winners

Volume 1

Investigating Differences in Generational Travel Preferences: The Case of the New River Gorge, West Virginia

Douglas Arbogast and Megan L. Smith, Journal of Tourism and Leisure Studies, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp.9–29