Hussey, Jennifer and Holden, Mary T. and Lynch, Patrick (2010) DEFINING PROFESSIONALISM IN THE TOURISM CONTEXT. In: Tourism and Hospitality Research in Ireland Conference (THRIC), June 15th - 17th 2010, Shannon Hotel School.


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The Tourism Policy Review Group (TPRG) (2003, p. 54) has highlighted the need for the development of the professionalism of the Irish tourism industry, warning that “unless this is done across the industry as a whole, the status and credibility of education and training programmes will be called into question.” Yet, although there is a general academic consensus that professionalism is a prerequisite for success (cf. Smith and Westerbeek, 2004) and is seen as positively related to innovation (Sundbo et al., 2007) (which is perceived as essential to enhancing Irish tourism competitiveness (TPRG, 2003)), a review of the literature indicates that there is both a scarcity of knowledge on what tourism professionalism is and a lack of consistency in its use and meaning. For example, Smith and Westerbeek (2004, p. 39) have noted that the concept “has not commonly been addressed, and when it has, it has usually been concerned with broad assumptions and sociological interpretations.” Professionalism‟s multidimensional nature has been argued by Johnson et al. (2006) to involve: (1) altruism, (2) high quality standards, and (3) specialist skills – yet, how relevant and definitive is their conceptualisation in the tourism context? Both Johnson et al. (2006) and Sundbo et al. (2007) have argued that professionalism can be realised through education, hence the need for a precise conceptualisation of what professionalism actually is. Based on the foregoing, and in the tourism context, the purpose of the proposed paper is to identify the key dimensions of professionalism. Dimensionalising this concept is necessary to its evaluation and measurement in order to ensure that educational interventions to enhance professionalism are having a positive impact - a goal which is central to the authors‟ ongoing longitudinal study on improving the tourism sector‟s professionalism through education. This paper argues that altruism, the existence of a code of ethics, a body of knowledge and specialist skills are key dimensions of tourism professionalism.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Departments or Groups: RIKON (Research in Inovation, Knowledge & Organisational Networks)
Divisions: School of Business
School of Business > Department of Management and Organization
Date Deposited: 18 Jun 2010 10:37
Last Modified: 22 Aug 2016 10:26

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