TT 7



Press Release

Flagstaff, Arizona, USA June 24, 2007

Innovation for Sustainable Tourism was the theme for this year’s BEST Education Network Think Tank held from June 21-24 at Northern Arizona University (NAU) in Flagstaff, Arizona USA. Thirty-six tourism scholars and practitioners assembled to explore ways in which innovation theories and concepts could enrich sustainable tourism.

Professor Dr. Claudia Jurowski, the conference chair, said, “Our conference attracted scholars from Sweden, New Zealand, Canada, Denmark, England, Romania, Rwanda, Turkey, and from seven universities in Australia. We share a common goal of educating for sustainability and balance, so that the world’s tourism destinations and cultures can be preserved and protected.”

Three keynote speakers seeded the Think Tank with some of the latest ideas on innovation. Dr. Dan Fesenmaier Professor and Director of the National Lab for E-Commerce and Tourism, Temple University, USA focussed on the ways in which IT and recommender systems can innovate the tourist experience. He explained tourist activated networks and how they can be used with emotional indicators to create an optimal tourism experience.

Dr. Ivo Martinac of Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm discussed how innovative technologies – particularly those of energy and transportation systems - can enhance sustainable tourism in the future. He addressed the balance in the “triple bottom line,” a term often used to indicate a mindful balance between "People, Planet, and Profit."

The final keynote, delivered by Dr. Alan Lew, Professor of Geography, Planning, and Recreation at NAU, discussed how innovations in education using the new virtual networks and technologies can expand the students’ ability to understand sustainable tourism.

Dr. Larry Dwyer and Dr. Deborah Edwards from the Sustainable Tourism CRC in Australia informed the participants of innovation theories and concepts from other disciplines such as economics and management science and how they can be applied to tourism. Their presentation was a useful framework for the research agenda sessions which followed.

In addition to presenting their own research during the Think Tank, participants engaged in sessions to create a research agenda for innovations in sustainable tourism. Two parallel sessions addressed innovations in socially sustainable tourism and innovations in sustainability for tourism small and medium enterprises. The research agenda that emerged will be on the BESTEN website

A new addition to the Think Tank this year was an industry forum in which local practitioners in Arizona described their sustainable tourism products and how they deal with the barriers to innovation and how they have succeeded in being innovative. This session included discussions on:

  • Rural adventure tourism
  • Outfitting and guiding as sustainable tourism
  • How local foods contribute to innovative tourism products
  • Sustainability in the National Parks’ hospitality operations

Attendees took a Saturday afternoon site visit to the Institute of Ecotourism in Sedona where they saw excellent examples of innovative attempts to pass the sustainable tourism message to all stakeholders in the region.

Based in Denmark, BEST EN is an international consortium of educators committed to furthering the development and dissemination of knowledge in the field of sustainable tourism. To that end, each year, they bring together tourism scholars and industry participants for three days of knowledge creation and the sharing of best practices.

For more information contact:
Dr. Janne Liburd, Chair, BESTEN or
Claudia Jurowski: Conference Chair 928-523-1705 or

BEST Education Network Think Tank VII on Innovation for Sustainable Tourism Commences

By Dr. Jack Carlsen

Bringing together tourism academics and industry participants for three days of innovative thinking about sustainable tourism, the BEST Education Network Think Tank VII on Innovation for Sustainable Tourism has convened in Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ. In addition to academic keynote and researcher presentations, this TT has an innovation in programming. Knowledge creation will be enhanced through an open industry forum facilitated by BEST EN Committee Member, Dr. Deborah Edwards. Three industry speakers will describe how they have used innovation to move towards sustainability in their own locations. In order to case study the innovation process, they will address key questions during their presentations and their responses will be documented so that others can learn from their experience. This structured approach to understanding the `who, what, when, where and how` of innovation should provide the genesis of descriptive and comparative case studies in other tourism destinations.

Just as there are numerous pockets of innovation in tourism in many different forms, for example in markets, in products and in technology, there are many approaches to researching and disseminating knowledge on the topic. Keynote speaker on day one, Dr. Daniel R. Fesenmaier from Temple University thought that researching innovation can be achieved through understanding tourism narratives. New technology enables research into innovation, through tracking tourist’s online experiences and the evolution of the use, and users of new web tools. The process of investigating how tourists themselves create, communicate and navigate on the web was described by Daniel, based on his work at the National Laboratory for tourism and eCommerce at Temple.

The three days of research presentations will culminate in open research forum that will map out a research agenda for innovation in sustainable tourism. For further information on the outcomes of this Think Tank, please see the BEST EN website or contact Dr. Janne J Liburd, Chair of the BEST EN

Author Contact: Dr. Jack Carlsen


Business innovation is identifying and applying knowledge in new ways to create customer and corporate value. In our rapidly changing global business environment, the capability for successful innovation has become a critical requirement for business success.

The Industry Forum to be held on Friday 22nd June, explores how leading companies extend their capabilities for sustainable innovation through rethinking their businesses.

Business innovation approaches the challenge of solving critical business problems without pre-conceived ideas about any ultimate solution. This unbounded approach produces creative, ground breaking solutions for clients and corporations that challenge conventional wisdom. Three different Tourism enterprises have developed strategic, sustainable solutions. They will share their experiences and demonstrate the strengths of Business Innovation:

  • Gina MacIlwraith, EHS Director of Xanterra, USA will outline ‘The Ecometric, An Innovative Measurement Tool for Sustainable Resort Management’
  • Patty West, Ethnobotonist in Flagstaff, Arizona, USA will explain how ‘Local foods innovate tourism products’
  • Mandy Roberts Metzger, President of the Diablo Trust, Flagstaff, Arizona & Bill Towler, Community Development Director for Coconino County, Arizona, USA will present ‘The Diablo Trust, an innovative land management project’.

Each speaker will give a 20 minute presentation which will be followed by Q&A.

The outcome of the forum will be three case studies, one on each of the businesses which can be used for education and knowledge creation purposes within teaching programs and as exemplars for other industry firms.

Facilitator: Dr. Deborah Edwards, University of Technology Sydney, Australia


The historic Route 66, America’s most famous road, goes to Flagstaff, Arizona and so is the BEST Education Network’s Think Tank (BEST EN). Committed to furthering the development and dissemination of knowledge in the field of sustainable tourism, BEST EN invites researchers, educators and industry representatives to Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, AZ to convene for the seventh annual Think Tank on June 21-24, 2007.

This year’s Think Tank will focus on “Innovations for Sustainable Tourism”. In our rapidly changing global business environment, the capability for successful innovation has become a critical requirement for business success, just as innovations are an essential basis for sustainable tourism development in any destination. The topic will be explored by various approaches; an Open Industry Forum, keynote speeches, research paper presentations, and sessions dedicated to the development of a cutting edge research agenda.

Internationally acknowledged experts in the field, namely Dr. Daniel Fesenmaier (Temple University, USA), Dr. Simon Darcy (University of Technology Sydney, Australia), Dr. Alan A. Lew (Northern Arizona University, USA) and Dr. Ivo Martinac (Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden), will deliver keynote presentations. Further light on the theme of innovations will be shed by research paper presentations by researchers and industry representatives from around the world. Regional examples on sustainable tourism innovations are presented in an Industry Open Forum with representation from regional industry, government and non-government organisations. Also, a half day tour to Sedona will demonstrate practical approaches towards innovation and sustainable tourism.

The rich pool of expertise at hand is captured in the development of regionally based case studies on innovative approaches towards sustainable tourism. In addition, the research agenda will identify knowledge gaps in current research and highlight issues that deserve more attention by researchers. Participants will thereby have the opportunity to learn by listening to new ideas and approaches presented and take an active role in the creation of new knowledge, thus broadening their own perspective on the topic as well as supporting competence development in the field. The main outcomes of the Think Tank are available on the BEST EN web site immediately after the conference. From the pool of research papers, one will be presented with the BEST EN Outstanding Paper Award on June 22, and selected papers will be published in a special journal issue.

Please visit the BEST EN web site for more information on the upcoming Think Tank including the agenda and registration details.

Dr. Janne J Liburd
Chair, BEST Education Network