Critical Approaches

Focus and Themes

The SIG focuses on the emerging shift in thought in tourism and hospitality studies that emphasises interpretive, alternative and critical modes of enquiry.  A ‘critical approach’ involves a broad perspective which includes all enquiry concerned with deconstructing the cultural politics of tourism, hospitality and events research and the relation of this research to its wider political, economic, cultural and social contexts.

We believe there is no single critical approach to tourism, hospitality and events research, but rather a range of social-science perspectives and paradigms, such as postmodernism, poststructuralism, critical theory, critical realism, feminist/gender theory, race studies, and also methodologies like qualitative research, interpretivism, ethnography, phenomenology, feminist research, memory-work, indigenist research and critical discourse analysis.

Key Outcomes for Members

  • Formal and informal networking with ‘likeminded’ colleagues in Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere
  • Mentoring, contact and support for Early Career Researchers from more senior academics using critical approaches/methodologies
  • Publishing and joint research opportunities
  • An email network/contact base to aid communication among members
  • Attendance or participation at annual symposium and annual CAUTHE conference workshop


Past activities



  • Members of the Critical Approaches in Tourism and Hospitality SIG attended the 10th Critical Tourism Studies Conference in Mallorca, Spain (June 2017) as part of a panel at the conference on Leading as a Critical Scholar. Panellists were Prof Donna Chambers, Prof Alison McIntosh, Prof Candice Harris, A/Prof Erica Wilson, and chaired by Dr Jennie Small.
  • Members contributed to the Special section of the Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management: A critical lens on hospitality and tourism work, December 2017 issue (Volume 33). Guest editors: Candice Harris, Jennie Small and Erica Wilson.
  • Panel discussion on The End of ‘Consensus’ (?): Critical Tourism and Hospitality in the New World with Emeritus Professor David Airey (University of Surrey, UK), Dr Freya Higgins-Desbiolles (University of South Australia) and David Williamson (Auckland University of Technology, NZ) at the CAUTHE 2017 conference.



  • A number of SIG members attended the International Critical Tourism Studies conference in June in Opatija, Croatia.


  • Critical discussion at CAUTHE 2014 focused on the TRINET debate triggered by Bob McKercher’s recent paper,  A Changing of the Guard in Tourism Research Leadership.
  • Collaborative research, publishing and discussion about another journal special issue continued.


  • The Critical Approaches in Tourism and Hospitality SIG, which emerged from the CAUTHE 2003 Gender Research in Tourism group, has around 80 members.
  • Meeting at CAUTHE 2013 Conference in New Zealand focussed on discussion about Critiquing the Critical. Freya Higgins-Desbiolles discussed developments since the SIG presentation at the CAUTHE 2012 Conference.
  • Many of the New Zealand and Australian CAUTHE delegates also attended the International Critical Tourism Studies Conference, Tourism Critical Practice: Activating Dreams into Action in Sarajevo on 25-28 June.


  • Workshop at the CAUTHE 2012 conference focused on Is ‘Hopeful’ Tourism ‘Critical’ Tourism? The discussion was  led by Freya Higgins-Desbiolles, University of South Australia, following her work with Azmiri Mian, PhD student, University of South Australia, and Kyle Powys Whyte, Michigan State University.
  • Special Issue of the Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Beyond the margins critical tourism and hospitality, Volume 19.
  • CAUTHE/ANZALS/SMAANZ symposium held at UTS in November 2012 titled Making a difference in Leisure, sport, tourism and hospitality.


  • Meeting at the CAUTHE 2011 Conference in Adelaide in February. Associate Professor Tazim Jamal (Texas A & M University) gave an account of her own work and the situation in the US regarding Critical Tourism Studies.
  • 4th International Critical Tourism Studies (CTS) Conference from 2-5 July 2011 in Cardiff, Wales.


  • Beyond the Margins? The Relevance of Critical Approaches in Tourism and Hospitality. A full-day symposium which discussed draft papers for a special issue in the Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management on 29 November at the Byron Bay Community Centre.
  • CAUTHE SIG Workshop at CAUTHE 2010 Conference. The workshop centred on the theme of Critical Approaches in Teaching Tourism and Hospitality, presentation by Dr Jennie Small.
  • CATH/Critical related paper stream at CAUTHE 2010 Conference.


  • 3rd International Critical Tourism Studies (CTS) Conference from 21 – 24 June 2009 in Zadar, Croatia.
  • 2nd Critical Tourism Symposium held on 28 August 2009 at University of Technology, Sydney.
  • CAUTHE SIG Workshop at CAUTHE 2009 Conference in Fremantle, WA.


  • 1st Critical Tourism Symposium on 14 November 2008 at Graduate School of Business, Haymarket Campus, University of Technology, Sydney.

Papers from Critical Tourism and Hospitality Symposia, Australia

  1. 2009 Critical Tourism Downunder Conference. Wearing and Wearing 2009, Post Colonial Development And Tourism: Hybridity, Ethics and the Subjecting Tourist. This document relates to 2006 Critical Tourism Downunder Conference, page 8 (abstract by Wearing and Wearing) Download
  2. 2008 Critical Tourism and Hospitality Symposia – Background. Wilson, Harris and Small, Furthering Critical Approaches in Tourism and Hospitality Studies, Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management, 15, 15-18 Download
  3. 2006 Critical Tourism Downunder Conference. Edelheim, Johan. R 2006, First-Person Phenomenological Tourist Experiences. This document relates to 2006 Critical Tourism Downunder Conference, page 4 (abstract by Edelheim) Download

SIG Coordinators

  • Professor Erica Wilson

    School of Business and Tourism

    Southern Cross University

  • Dr Jennifer Small

    Leisure, Sport and Tourism

    University of Technology Sydney

  • Professor Candice Harris

    Department of Management

    AUT University