by Benedetta Piccio
The tourism, hospitality and event industries have been majorly impacted by the Covid19 pandemic over the past two years. Lockdowns, social distancing, and restrictions have had serious consequences on events; resulting in cancellations or being moved online.
In Edinburgh, the summer festivals released a statement in April 2020 announcing that festivals would not go ahead as planned for the first time in 73 years. They are only just returning this summer in full swing.
THE INC 2022 conference’s topic: Tourism, Hospitality and Events Innovation and Resilience during Uncertainty, was well situated with the current environment. The conference took place at the end of June at the Cyprus University of Technology (CUT) in Limassol.
As my PhD looks at Women, festival leadership and social transformation: the case of Edinburgh, the world’s leading festival city, presenting part of my research at the INC2022 conference was an incredible opportunity. My research focuses on understanding gender inequalities and obstacles women face during their career progression within the festival industry.
I had recently finished my data collection that consisted of 33 interviews, with one of the questions investigating the effects of the past two years on female festival organisers’ roles and positions. And my presentation at THE INC2022 conference was about an initial analysis of my data.
The results show that female festival leaders have strongly demonstrated innovation and resilience during the past years. One of my participants commented:
“For me the last two years have probably been a test of any leadership and probably the biggest test has been a test of resilience (…) it was about how can I now move into a mode of leadership that is about survival and that is about supporting my team, my colleagues and holding this together.”
The past two years have also improved the working conditions in terms of flexibility and the possibility of working from home, which was something that never existed before:
“Our policy of like pretty flexible, a lot of flexibility in terms of working. So we can kind of work around pick up times and drop off times if we need to.”
My research is still in progress, so the conference was a great opportunity for me to share my initial findings with fellow researchers and academics, and to discuss my work with them and gain valuable feedback.
The conference had great keynote speakers on the resilience and innovation of the event, tourism and hospitality industries: Professor Jane Ali-Knight, from Edinburgh Napier University, Professor Cathy Hsu, from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), and Professor Scott McCabe, University of Nottingham.
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