Recreation, Tourism and Sport Specialty Group Business Meeting

Association of American Geographers Centennial Meeting - Philadelphia, PA

March 15, 2004



Report from the AAG Specialty Group Chairs Meeting

Specialty Group Sponsored Sessions

Deborah Che, RTS Chair, reported that the number of organized specialty group sessions was raised.  On one hand, the AAG Council believed the bottom-up nature of specialty groups’ organizing sessions indicated that the needs of specialty group members were being met.  On the other hand, the proliferation of sessions could lead to fragmentation of the discipline.  Having sessions co-sponsored by a number of specialty groups was seen as a way to address this fragmentation as well as a way to foster communication across subfields.  In the end, the AAG Council felt that there should not be a limit to the number of sessions, but that specialty groups should focus on assembling the highest quality sessions.  Lisle Mitchell commented that RTS is sponsoring or co-sponsoring[1] 21 sessions, which included many people new to RTS.   In addition to sponsoring sessions at the AAG Annual Meeting, specialty groups could sponsor them at the AAG Regional Meetings.


Specialty Group Membership and Activity

Deborah Che also reported that the number (now 54 with the addition of a new Wine and Viticulture group) and the “health” of specialty groups were also discussed.  The AAG has the authority to pull specialty groups with less than 100 members.  It is not inclined to enforce this minimum membership requirement, in part because this could mean the end of more than ¼ of all specialty groups. Additionally, specialty groups with 40 or 50 active members could be vibrant and serve the association’s membership.  But for instance, one specialty group chair who was also a member of the Aging specialty group, which had a small number of members and no sponsored sessions during the Centennial Meeting, suggested that the future of this specialty group be considered.  The AAG would also look at reports of activities and future plans regarding any decisions on specialty groups.  Che noted that as of May 2003, when the AAG most recently sent a membership list, RTS had 214 members.


Specialty Group Membership Lists and List-Serves

Che reported discussion on whether the AAG could and/or should house specialty group list-serves as well as issues with getting AAG specialty group members on list-serves.  Currently the AAG sends out specialty group membership lists, but many specialty groups have separate list-serves which include non-AAG members.  Their list-serves may not include all specialty group members since one must choose to join the list-serve.  The issue of the AAG housing all specialty group list-serves (which could necessitate another staff person) will require further discussion.


Specialty Group Financial Administration

As agreed at last year’s business meeting, RTS will be turning over financial administration to the AAG.  Thus after this year, the check for dues will no longer be sent to the Chair and deposited by the Treasurer.  The Treasurer will authorize disbursements.


Treasurer’s Report and Discussion of Further Student Support

David Truly reported that the RTS balance as of March 16, 2004 was $1,882.15.  This balance will soon be reduced by $300 due to the 2004 Student Paper Awards.  Discussion followed regarding using some of the funds (possibly $500-600) to support travel to the AAG Meeting and/or for field research.  These funds would be new awards in addition to the current student paper competition.  Using funds for student registration and travel to the AAG Meeting could foster greater student involvement, especially when departmental support for student attendance was not available or limited.  Michelle Metro-Roland, a Ph.D. student from Indiana University, said that as her department already supported travel to the AAG, she preferred RTS funds be used to support field research.  RTS members suggested that such field research awards could be given out on the basis of a 1-2 page research proposal which included a rough breakdown of costs.  Awards could also require presenting the research findings at a forthcoming AAG meeting.  The RTS Board, which has a student representative (Daniel Olsen), will consider the nature of further student support (dollar amount, AAG travel and/or field research).


RTS Paper Competition

The RTS Board members involved in judging the papers noted the large number of entrants for the student paper competition and the difficulty in selecting the award winners.  Gyan Nyaupane (The Pennsylvania State University) received the first place award for ‘Searching for a Tourism Development Model for Developing Mountain Regions: A Controlled Comparison of Annapurna, Nepal and Northwest Yunnan, China’.  Glenn W. Gentry (East Carolina University) received the second place award for ‘Negotiating Savannah’s Tourist Landscape: Walking and the Experience of Place through Ghost Walk Tours’. Daniel H. Olsen (University of Waterloo) received the third place award for ‘Examining Religious Views of Tourism’.


RTS members discussed the possibility of separate awards for undergraduate, master’s, and Ph.D. students.  All of the entrants for this year’s competition were graduate students, but the award winners included both students at the master’s and at the Ph.D. level.  Dimitri Ioannides suggested in addition to the monetary award, the RTS paper competition winner could also receive assistance towards getting the paper published in Tourism Geographies.  This would not entail a guarantee of publication since the journal articles are peer-reviewed, but assistance towards possible publication. 


Plans for AAG 2005-Denver

For next year’s meeting in Denver, the following session themes were proposed (organizers in parentheses): 1) urban tourism (Rudi Hartmann), 2) mountain tourism (Sanjay Nepal), 3) sport tourism (Theodore Gouge), 4) post-colonialism and tourism (Anne-Marie d’Hauteserre), 5) implications of the extension of the European Union for tourism (Rudi Hartmann) and 6) tourism theory  (Michelle Metro-Roland).  Additionally a possible RTS field trip (a ski train up to the Rockies) was suggested. 




Deborah Che (RTS Chair, 2003-2005)

Department of Geography

Western Michigan University

Kalamazoo, MI 49008, USA



[1] RTS is co-sponsoring sessions with the Rural Geography, Cultural Geography, Canadian Studies, Cultural and Political Ecology, Regional Development and Planning, Urban Geography, and Coastal and Marine specialty groups.