In Conversation with David Beirman

In Conversation with David Beirman

In this exciting episode of our “In Conversation with Sage Authors” series, we had the honor of chatting with none other than David Beirman, the brilliant author behind Tourism Crises & Destination Recovery. In this exclusive interview, we’ll delve deep into David’s storied background and uncover the inspiration behind his indispensable guide. Additionally, we’ll discover how this book can serve as an indispensable tool for students and practitioners alike, as they chart their academic and career paths in the dynamic world of tourism. Buckle up and join us on this captivating journey through the intricate realm of destination recovery!

Can you tell us about yourself and your background?

My professional life has been dominated by my dual roles as an educator and as a tourism professional.

From 1976-1980 I was a high school teacher in Australia and in Israel. I taught modern history in Australia and English in Israel. After completing my teaching in Israel I traveled widely in Europe, the UK, and the USA before returning to Australia in September 1980. 

I had a brief contract position with the National Parks and Wildlife Foundation of New South Wales (Sep 1980-Mar 1981) which involved me giving presentations to schools and community groups in Sydney and many regional communities of inland NSW.  These covered the major conservation projects undertaken by the National Parks in the state.

The day my National Parks contract finished in March 1981 I was approached to become a travel consultant with Jetset Tours, which at that time was Australia’s largest travel agency group. My career with Jetset involved many different roles including domestic and international travel consultant, corporate sales executive, human resource manager, and In-service training manager. These varying roles instilled in me a real passion for the travel industry and the complex web of relationships between the various sectors of the industry including travel agencies, tour operators, airlines and land transport providers, the accommodation sector, meetings events and incentive specialists, destination managers, and marketers. During my time with Jetset, I researched and completed my Ph.D. focussing on the Arab-Israeli conflict. I was awarded my doctorate from the University of NSW in October 1990.

In late 1989 I left Jetset to establish my own consultancy business, Struan & Associates. Initially, the business focussed on providing training services for travel agencies and representing some travel businesses in business-to-business marketing of specialist services such as online monitoring airfares. However, by 1994 the emphasis of my activities shifted to destination management and marketing. 

Following a joint proposal between myself and the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce to the Israel Ministry of Tourism in late 1993 it was agreed that I would be appointed and contracted as Director of the Israel Government Tourism Office responsible for the promotion of Israel as a destination in Australia, New Zealand, and the SW Pacific. I undertook this role between 1994-2006. It involved marketing Israel to both the travel industry and consumers. As a destination, Israel was attractive to a number of specific market sectors including Christian, Jewish, Bahai and Muslim pilgrims, holidaymakers, historians, volunteer tourists,  adventure travelers, business travelers and Jewish Australians and New Zealanders with a connection with and commitment to  Israel. 

One of the main challenges of marketing Israel was the prevailing image of the destination as a dangerous and unsafe destination.  This perception was significantly enhanced during the years of the Al Aqsa Intifada between Sep 2000 and late 2004 during which there was an intense and bloody conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. This created a crisis for Israel which experienced a decline in tourism between 2001-2004. While trying to manage the perceptual crisis that affected Israel I became interested in the broader issue of tourism crisis and recovery management. This interest led to the publication of my first book Restoring Tourism Destinations in Crisis (2003). While the book sales were modest the book led to me receiving multiple invitations to both speak at academic and tourism industry conferences and advise governments on tourism crisis management all over the world. 

One of my responses to Israel’s problems during the Intifada was to establish with a number of like-minded travel companies The Eastern Mediterranean Tourism Association (EMTA) which promoted all countries between and including Italy and  Jordan. EMTA was active between 2000-2012 and was the only association in the world in which Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Libya, Serbia, and Croatia among others jointly promoted tourism under a common umbrella. We banned politics in our activities which were mainly pitched to the travel industry. At its peak, EMTA had 37 member companies which included national tourism offices, airlines, tour wholesalers, hoteliers, and car rental firms that serviced the Eastern Mediterranean region.

Between 2001-2012 our events and seminars attracted over 12,000 Australian and New Zealand travel agents. While EMTA gave Israel and platform during its Intifada Crisis it also helped to promote Greece during its 2009-10 financial crisis and Egypt during its uprising in 2012. 

From 2009 -2022 I was a senior lecturer in tourism management at the University of Technology Sydney and I developed three risk management courses (one focused on events, one focused on tourism, and one generic to business students) while engaging extensively with the tourism industry in Australia and globally. Although tourism risk, crisis and recovery are extensively researched by a growing number of tourism academics, customized courses remain a rarity at universities and other tertiary institutions.

The book I wrote with Sage Tourism Crises and Destination Recovery was designed to encapsulate in a thematic manner the many crises (a number of which I have had direct involvement in) that have challenged the viability of tourism in a single country, a region, and in the case of COVID-19 globally. To me, it is important for travel professionals and aspiring travel professionals to understand how important risk, crisis, and recovery management skills are as part of their professional armory. 

What inspired you to write “Tourism Crises and Destination Recovery”?

I was largely inspired by my own experience of Israel’s challenges as a destination that had to recover its tourism from multiple big and small crises. However, my experience with and research of many people from many countries who have overcome natural disasters, pandemics, terrorism, political instability, and restored tourism, demonstrates the true resilience and at times heroism of travel industry professionals with a belief in their destinations and tourism products who are prepared to overcome challenging adversity.

What sets this textbook apart from others in the same field?

Although there is an extensive and growing body of academic literature on tourism risk, crisis, and recovery, this book is written by a single author giving it a consistent style. It adopts a clear thematic approach that examines the key types of tourism crises, backed by easily digestible case studies, and provides key questions and discussion points for students and lecturers alike.  To the best of my knowledge, it is one of only two texts focussing on this field that includes these qualities. The last was published in 2007.

Would you be able to share with us how this textbook can help a student on his/her tourism course?

This book provides an introduction to students with a genuine interest in managing risk and crisis. It provides the big picture that crises can arise from both external threats and internal errors in an organization. Case studies within the textbook illustrate how the concepts of risk, crisis, and recovery work in practice and cover many of the core sectors of tourism. Most importantly, it invites and provokes the reader to research and read in more depth. 

Find out more about David’s Book

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