Palma, from 23 to 25 October 2013
Celebrating and Enhancing the Tourism
Knowledge-based Platform: A Tribute to Jafar Jafari

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General programme, activity sheet

Thursday 24 October, 2013 16:05 to 16:25 Oral Communication
Sexual Harassment, Tourism and Education
Speaker: Avital Biran, Bournemouth University, Senior Lecturer in Tourism
Speaker: Yael Ram, Ashkelon Academic College
Speaker: John  Tribe, University of Surrey, UK

Authors: Yael Ram, Avital Biran, John Tribe, Na’ama Shaked-Levy

Aims: There is a general agreement regarding the prevalence of sexual harassment in the hospitality and tourism industry. Particularly, the high occurrence of sexual harassment in the hospitality industry (i.e. hotels and restaurants) is well documented. Current studies have suggested that the rate of incidents reported (by both men and women) is twice as high in comparison to other service industries (EWCS, 2007 in Milczarek, 2010) and that in most cases managers and peers are the harassers (Poulston, 2008). However, the prevalence of sexual harassment in tourism in general (e.g. tour guides, cruises and airlines, events and attractions) is generally unknown. In spite of the growing recognition of the problem of sexual harassment and its social impacts, as well as the raising call for a change, the tourism literature largely ignores this issue. Furthermore, the current tourism literature rarely addresses sexual harassment issues from an educational perspective, and overlooks the role of education as a potential player in preventing this illegal phenomenon. The limited available discussion of this topic in the literature tends to focus on ways to protect students from sexual harassment (Lin, 2006; Mkono, 2010). Namely, seeing students as victims and merely addressing the symptom rather than seeing students as agents of change and educating them on how to deal with and prevent this phenomenon. Thus, the current study aims to explore whether and how tourism higher education addresses the issue of sexual harassment issue as a part of the curriculum of tourism programmes. Methodology: As part of the exploratory stage of this on-going research project, an open ended questionnaire was sent to 17 programme leaders (UG and PG) and senior faculty members from eight countries (amongst this, UK, Israel, Brazil, Malaysia, and Germany). In order to minimize potential bias the questionnaire referred to “sex related issues in the context of tourism and hospitality higher education” in general, and focused on programmes and themes regarding sex, tourism, ethics and sexual harassment. Specifically, the questionnaire included questions aiming to reveal how such issues are addressed considering the future role of students as employees and managers in this industry, rather than tourists only. The responses for the questionnaire were analysed in order to find key themes and topics. Findings and key arguments: The main finding of the exploratory study is that tourism higher education curriculum generally overlooks the issue of sexual harassment. Thus, the programmes do not refer to students as possible victims or as agents for social change. Furthermore, the findings indicate that tourism higher education programmes address sex related issue in the context of tourist experiences and host community impacts, yet overlooks sexual related issue in the tourism work environment. These findings, however limited and preliminary, call for shifting the focus of the higher education, from discussing sex related issues only with regard to the local community and the tourists to considering those people working in the industry. Furthermore, the current study highlights the role of higher education in generating social change, by means of raising awareness, providing tools for students and building the ethical foundations for responsible management. References: Lin, Y. H. (2006). The incidence of sexual harassment of students while undergoing practicum training experience in the Taiwanese hospitality industry—individuals reactions and relationships to perpetrators. Tourism Management, 27, 51- 68. Milczarek, M. (2010). Workplace violence harassment: A European picture. European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, EU-OSHA Mkono, M. (2010). Zimbabwean hospitality students’ experiences of sexual harassment in the hotel industry. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 29, 729- 735. Poulston, J. (2008). Metamorphosis in hospitality: A tradition of sexual harassment. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 27, 232-240.
Further information:

Submited paper (19 KB)

Session 3 – Critical curriculum development
Place: Room SB04

Other activities in Session 3 – Critical curriculum development
15:45 h. to 16:05 h.Oral Communication

Studying Tourism: Where's the Humanity in It?

Speaker: Kellee Caton, Thompson Rivers University
16:25 h. to 16:45 h.Oral Communication

Rethinking Caribbean Tourism Education: the way forward

Speaker: Acolla Lewis, University of the West Indies, St Augustine