Delegates from the Irish hospitality sector will gather in GMIT today (Thursday ) and tomorrow for the ninth annual Tourism and Hospitality Research in Ireland Conference (THRIC ). Hosted by the GMIT College of Tourism and Arts, the conference gathers industry, academia, and students together to discuss the sector’s research and industry trends.
The theme of this year’s conference is ‘Celebrating Arts and Culture: A Gathering of the Tourism and Hospitality Family’. Discussions will focus on topics such as social media in the tourism industry, hospitality management and contemporary issues, urban tourism, sustainability, rural and food tourism, and technology and heritage.
The THRIC event is included in The Gathering calendar, which allows hospitality graduates of any of the institutes of technology, working overseas, to attend the GMIT event free of charge.
Keynote speakers are Jim Murphy, chief executive of the Prem Group and GMIT graduate, and Mark Nagurski, festival director at CultureTech Festival Derry and digital champion at Digital Derry.
Mr Murphy will share his company’s experience of transforming itself from a small hotel management company to an international hospitality services company. “Sustainability and diversification are key to success,” he said. “We re-imagined our company around our core area of expertise and today have a business that spans five European countries while still being run from an Irish base.”
Mark Nagurski added: “We work at the intersection of arts, culture, and technology and are creating an event which brings those elements together to appeal to a unique, international, and very engaged audience. From a tourism perspective, I think this kind of conversation around digital innovation is both timely and very relevant to Ireland. Ireland is well known as a tourism destination. We've also got a burgeoning technology sector. If anyone is well-placed to explore how these two things might come together to create a really unique offering, we are.”
The event will conclude with an industry panel discussion involving the president of the Irish Hotels Federation and Clare hotelier Michael Vaughan, and chief executive of the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation Eamonn McKeown.
Cáit Noone, head of the GMIT College of Tourism and Arts, said: “This conference is particularly relevant to any small tourism business that may not have research expertise; the findings shared over the two-days at this event could be useful to many of these businesses throughout the country.”
Michael Vaughan, president of the Irish Hotels Federation, supports the collaboration between industry and academia saying it is vital to the progression of tourism in Ireland. “We in industry have often suffered from lack of insights and research when making policy decisions in Ireland,” he added. “THRIC offers a unique opportunity for the wider tourism community to share the research work of our institutes of technology.”
For further information on this event see www.gmit.ie/thric/index html, follow @thric2013 and use the hashtag #thric2013 to join the conversation.