Post event report

On 7 December 2018 another edition of the QS Subject Focus Summit concluded successfully in Kuching, capital city of Malaysia’s largest state, Sarawak. The inaugural Summit dedicated to Hospitality and Tourism, with over 200 delegates attending from 40 countries, provided a unique global insight into the challenges and opportunities faced by academic leaders in the field.

The Summit kicked off with keynotes by the Malaysia’s Department of Higher Education Director General, Datin Paduka Ir Dr Siti Hamisah Binti Tapsir and Professor Dr Stanislav Ivanov. Official welcomes were delivered by hosting partner UCSI University Vice-Chancellor and President, Senior Professor Dato’ Dr Khalid Yusoff and Sarawak Chief Minister YAB Datuk Patinggi Dr Abang Haji Abdul Rahman Zohari bin Tun Datuk Abang Haji Openg.

The following days saw presentations on diverse topics, including keynote presentations by Professor Dr Cihan Cobanoglu and Professor Dr Perry Hobson, as well as two panel discussions.

Some of the discussion highlights from the event are noted below:

  • The role of technology in automating significant parts of the hospitality and tourism industry, from self-check-in to cleaning and cooking robots, the industry is at the cusp of an automation revolution which will change the nature of work in the industry.

  • Social media and customer insights that can be gained from big data will transform the sector and will require careful management and analysis. Therefore, these skills should be urgently incorporated into the curricula and research wherever they are relevant.

  • Over-tourism is a real problem in many destinations and this is due in part to a lack of understanding and engagement with the host community. If tourism is to be sustainable and beneficial, needs of the host community will have to receive equal attention to those of the tourists. Quality in tourism is more important than quantity.

  • There is a widening gap between industry and academia in a large part because hospitality and tourism research has put on the academic “straight jacket”; whereby PhDs and academic publications are valued more highly than industry experience, trade publications and membership of industry associations.

  • Compared to many sectors and subject-areas, tourism is hyper-globalized, with not just the tourists themselves but also the international mobility of hospitality staff, students and educators. A further consequence is the growth of international accreditation and rankings for hospitality education. This makes hospitality and tourism a barometer for the changes and challenges that have yet come in other academic fields.

Participants were also very satisfied with the event. Jing Xuan Tan (Sunway University, Malaysia) noted that the Summit: “is a great event, definitely! Learn many things and the updates of this industry in academic perspective” Adding further praise Mr Bernie Quinn (HTMI, Switzerland) described it as “Probably the best organised and enjoyable conference I have ever attended. Very supportive and professional”. Expressing the views of a sponsor as well as a presenter Professor Dr Amitabh Upadhya (Skyline University College, UAE) said: “The experience was great, and the deliberations were absorbing. The stay at UCSI was very comfortable too”.

The QS Subject Focus Summit in Kuching marks the end of the 2018 event calendar for QS. We look forward to more successful Subject Focus Summits in 2019, including in Medicine and Dentistry.