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Tourism expert speaks at China forum

November 14, 2008

Dr. Timothy Tyrrell, director of the Megapolitan Tourism Research Center in Arizona State University's College of Public Programs, recently spoke about "balance as an economic development strategy" to 300 governmental officials, experts from international organizations, companies, media, universities and scholars at the 2008 Leisure Development International Forum in Hangzhou, China.

Tyrrell was one of only two American scholars and four non-Chinese scholars who spoke to the group. Representatives from 10 international consulates in Shanghai also gave presentations.

The 2008 Forum took "leisure and the economy" as the central theme, exploring the practice of leisure industry in China, the strategic meaning of cultural, recreational and sports leisure to leisure economy, experience of regional leisure economy development, and the development of the leisure economy after the 2008 Olympic Games in China.

The phrase "a rising tide floats all boats" is the unquestioned basis for many economic development strategies. It is assumed that each of the social and environmental goals of a community will be achieved if there is sufficient overall economic growth. Unfortunately, not all boats are floated by growth. Tyrrell suggests that development strategies should focus on the individual boats instead of on the tide. He argues that balanced development plans that seek positive economic, social and environmental impacts on many different community groups will lead to growth. Floating all boats may not require a rising tide.

"The balanced strategy is particularly important for development of sport, leisure and tourism industries because of the many residential and visitor markets served and the many economic, social and environmental impacts that are generated," says Tyrrell. "The balance strategy is most important because it directly supports the community sustainability goals."

Tyrrell's presentation illustrated the proposed balance strategy by case studies in business, industry and community development related to sports, recreation and tourism. One case described his analysis of employee productivity in 361 U.S. metropolitan areas where marginal productivity in the accommodations sector declined after the area exceeded 55,000 employees (Los Angeles, New York and Las Vegas). Another case study of WaterFire, a touristic event in Providence, R.I., raised awareness of a redeveloped downtown waterfront. Interest by tourists led residents to use major public infrastructure development that might otherwise have been ignored. A third case described balanced investment by the ski industry in British Columbia in affordable housing for its employees through the Whistler Housing Authority. In each of these and three other cases, the role of balance was demonstrated as being more important than growth.

Dr. Tyrrell earned his Ph.D. from Cornell University and has been studying the economics of tourism for 30 years. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Travel and Tourism Research Association and the Leadership Council of International Association of Tourism Economists. He is a member of the International Association of Scientific Experts in Tourism and recently was nominated to the International Academy for the Study of Tourism.

The Megapolitan Tourism Research Center is devoted to studying the role of tourism in community development in order to strengthen its contribution to viable economic, social and environmental systems, especially in megapolitan regions around the world. The center is part of the School of Community Resources & Development, located in the College of Public Programs at the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus. For information, visit:



Tim Tyrrell
Professor, School of Community Resources and Development
Director, Megapolitan Tourism Research Center



Corey Schubert
Manager of Media Communications, ASU College of Public Programs
602-496-0406 office

602-370-6128 cell