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Wilfrid Laurier University School of Business & Economics
September 21, 2014
Canadian Excellence

Keynote Speaker - Peter Murphy

Community Networking for Local Tourism Entreprenuers



Peter Murphy has been researching and practicing 'Community Tourism' around the world, using both his Geography and Business backgrounds to foster tourism businesses that reflect community priorities as well as individual commercial needs. This presentation examines how some local tourism entrepreneurs have made good use of community conditions and local contacts to develop successful tourism businesses in a variety of rural/regional areas. 

The paper emphasises the need to establish a triumvirate approach to rural tourism business. This involves making a realistic assessment of the local tourism appeal and market opportunities. Developing an understanding of a local community's past (heritage and character), its present (existing socio-economic structure), and it future prospects (aspirations and potential). Combining the two former elements into a business opportunity for the mutual benefit of the entrepreneur and the community, with imagination, flair and a lot of hard work.

The paper acknowledges that an entrepreneur needs to develop a wide range of business skills in order to convert an idea into a reality, and presents a few illustrative decision-making steps that have helped individuals create significant rural/regional tourism businesses. Those selected include recognising an opportunity, exhibiting leadership, tackling seasonality, developing the necessary human resource skills, financing and creating a sustainable business.

The evidence for these entrepreneurial achievements is taken from the author's work and research experience around the world. It covers both small and large enterprises with cases taken from North America, Europe and Asia.

Peter started out life in England and after graduating from the LSE went on to study geography at the Ohio State University. While there he completed an M.A. and Ph.D. in urban and economic geography. His first full-time academic appointment was at the University of Victoria in B.C., Canada; where he started as a geographer and ended up as a Dean of its Faculty of Business. One of the currents that brought about this transformation was his interest in tourism, first as a researcher, then a teacher and finally as an administrator. In 1997 he was head-hunted to start a new area of teaching and research into tourism at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia. He became the Head of the School of Tourism and Hospitality and after two terms he stepped down to become the Associate Dean of Research for the entire Faculty of Law and Management at La Trobe University. He retired in 2009 and added to his U. Vic. Professor Emeritus title with a similar, but not the same recognition from La Trobe.

Over his almost 40 year academic career, Peter is best known for his work in 'Community Tourism'. His initial book, Tourism: A Community Approach, published by Methuen in 1985 and about to be republished as an e-book by Routledge was inspired by watching the economic changes occurring in his home-town of Victoria, B.C. and wanting to be a force for positive change. His follow-up book, Strategic Management for Tourism Communities: Bridging the Gaps, (Channel View Publications, 2004) written with his daughter Ann Murphy, who by that time was a practicing planner in the Florida Keys, built on the social science emphasis of the first by incorporating the concepts of strategic business management and several key cases. Together, these two books have been widely used by students and managers of tourism as guides to local tourism planning around the world if my correspondence, invites and royalties are used as yard-sticks.

Towards the end of his career and in preparation for his retirement, Peter focused his lens on resort development. He is intrigued by the longevity, dare one say sustainability, of this form of tourism; and it is one which is found in both urban and rural settings around the world. So when he stepped down from his Head of School duties, he and his wife Susan undertook a personal tour of some of the world's finest resort locations. A record of his findings can be found in his last book, The Business of Resort Management, published by Butterworth Heinemann in 2008. Several of the business cases discussed in his address are taken from this book and trip.