In early 2018, scrolling through an international tourism research and education network, I stumbled upon the final call for applications for an Emerging Scholar Award to attend the Third International Conference on Tourism & Leisure Studies. The awards are given to outstanding graduate students and emerging scholars who have a research interest in the conference themes.
The application process required me to concisely establish how my research linked to the key themes of the conference. The special focus for the 2018 conference is “building bridges to sustainability: tourism, culture, gastronomy and sport”, which fits and compliments the areas which I’m actively researching. Moreover, I was expected to demonstrate how I may contribute to the scope of the conference, and how I could effectively engage with emerging and established academics to develop interdisciplinary theory, practice and learning.
My background and experience in coordinating various events, presenting at recent conferences and symposium, and other professional work (e.g. teaching) suitably indicated the breadth of my key generic and technical skills. The closing date was looming so I tentatively submitted an awards application – not expecting to get a look in if I’m perfectly honest! I ruled myself out of the running and moved forward with my studies. Lo and behold a month or so later I was delighted to be notified by the organisers that I was going to be a recipient of one of the Emerging Scholar Awards.
Seeking out this route for attending international events is certainly not only beneficial for subsidising conference fees (I received a fee waiver!), coupled with enabling access to hard-to-reach locations, and enhancing wider engagement with the major players in your field or industry. Increasingly opportunities to attend through these means are scarce. As part of the programme, I will be chairing a number of themed panel sessions and presenting during the course of the conference.
This highly supportive environment is useful for professional and career development, building collaborations, and at the very least exploring a new place alongside interesting folk! In light of this award recognition, I envisage the platform as being instrumental in raising my profile and offering welcomed exposure to many of the leading lights and associated parties in the fields of tourism, events and leisure studies. So, next time you spot a similar opportunity, why not have a go and see where it takes you. What’s the worst that can happen?