I had a chance to attend and present at The Council for Australasian Tourism and Hospitality Education Conference (CAUTHE) 2023 Conference which represents hospitality, tourism, and event educators and researchers in Australia and New Zealand. The Conference’s theme was “West, East, South, North: Redirecting Research in Tourism, Hospitality, and Events”, and was held at the Esplanade Hotel Fremantle in Perth.

About 190 scholars, professors, PhD students, and industry professionals attended the conference (CAUTHE membership is currently around 200). There were a few fantastic keynotes/panel discussions in the areas of workforce development and Perth as a tourism destination. Furthermore, here are a few themes from emerging research in the hospitality, tourism, and event fields from presentations I attended:

  • Stakeholder development/impact of tourism and events on local communities
  • Incorporating Indigenous tourism and experiences into branding and tourist experiences
  • Artificial intelligence/eye tracking in examining tourist experiences
  • Several journal editors’ sessions highlighted the importance of expanding research methods from association studies (e.g., self-reporting survey instruments) to causality studies (e.g., surveys)

This was my first time attending a conference in Australia, and it’s always enjoyable to see best practices in how event planners embrace the local culture in a meeting/event. For example:

  • Conference planners effectively communicated their commitment to sustainability to event attendees by not printing any printing materials, encouraging attendees to utilize public transportation, and providing a list of local establishments to seek out. These guidelines were also on the conference website and were sent out to attendees in advance.
  • Conference planners also set expectations regarding dress. For example, attendees were encouraged to abide by the dress code: (no thongs and no beach wear)
  • A scheduled morning walk/swim was scheduled every morning of the conference, taking advantage of the adjacent beach and ocean. How cool is that?
  • A “Welcome to the Country” from Alton Walley, Aboriginal Productions, was presented, recognizing the historical and cultural context of the sacred lands the conference occurred.
  • Lastly, CAUTHE has a tradition for the last session of every conference to be a “The Great Debate” where 2 teams of scholars “debate” a major theme in a comical, “roasting” of fellow peers in a comical, intriguing way – you have to attend to see it in action.

I had minimal expectations of Perth as a destination; however, the city exceeded my expectations. It is a remote city (most major cities, such as Sydney and Singapore are about a 5-hour flight and 3 time zones away), but the 2 million people that live here make it a very livable city. Downtown is vibrant, the city is a festival city (I was there during the Fringe World Festival), there is a great light rail system, and it is located on the ocean with incredible beaches. It’s possible that I Googled, “How do I move to Perth” while watching the sunset on a beach with a local beer from Local Creatures. What a great city!

The conference was held in Fremantle, about 20-30 minutes southeast of downtown Perth. Fremantle is a port city that became Australia’s main destination for convict arrival. Today, the city is a fantastic tourism destination that features well-preserved architecture from the Edwardian era and gold rush-era, a robust arts and culture, and a vibrant downtown filled with cafes, breweries (New Belgium Beer is on tap – from Colorado!), and great coffee.

Next year’s conference will be hosted by the University of Tasmania in Hobart, Tasmania (I am already checking flight schedules).