Phase 2 of the Master TDM 2017-18 has begun. It takes our students to Asia Pacific where they will be conducting field research in three distinct types of tourism destinations – an urban destination, a developing destination with a rural character, and a mature destination with a long history of tourism development. This year’s Master TDM class will visit Melbourne, Sri Lanka, and Bali. Here we will present the three field work destinations and continously share some of the students’ field research experiences and reflections.

Cultural Capital of Australia

Melbourne is referred to as the cultural capital of Australia and this is for many reasons. Among many other cultural institutions, it is home to Australia’s most visited National Gallery and to the Melbourne Museum, the biggest museum in the Sothern Hemisphere. It further hosts frequent arts and exhibition events as well as global sport spectacles such as the annual Formula 1 race and the Australian Open. But it is especially the city’s inhabitants that make Melbourne a fascinating place that has been awarded with the title of ‘World’s Most Liveable City’ by the Economist Intelligence Unit for seven consecutive years.

People of more than 140 nationalities live in Melbourne. It has the 3rd largest Greek population outside of Greece and is considered to be the biggest Italian city outside of Italy. Also, a large Chinese community has been characterizing Melbourne since Chinese investments contributed to the Victoria Gold Rush in the 1850s. This ethnic diversity has contributed to a versatile and dynamic urban food culture, influenced especially by culinary customs of the city’s growing Asian population.  There is an old saying about Melbourne that reflects the inhabitant’s role for the state capital of Victoria: “Man has done everything for Melbourne, nature nothing. Nature has done everything for Sydney, man nothing”.

Federation Square Melbourne

Melbourne’s Flinders Street Station by night



View of Melbourne skyline from the Yarra River

Destination without a landmark

When people from abroad think of Sydney it is most probably the famous Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge that come to their mind. Melbourne does not have such an iconic landmark even though the city’s highest skyscraper, the Eureka Tower, that by the way features the highest public vantage point in the Southern Hemisphere, certainly possesses unique characteristics that also touch upon Melbourne’s history. But Melbourne rather strives for creating a unique atmosphere and an overall experience for visitors and residents alike.

Accordingly, the city presents itself as a hub for sports, education, culture, and creative and sustainable urban design. This is what most importantly contributes to its character rather than an iconic symbol that appears in each and every picture. However, when it comes to tourism it is especially domestic markets in which Melbourne and the state of Victoria perform remarkably well. Sydney is still by far Australia’s most visited city by international travelers. If it is the aim of decision-makers to increase Melbourne’s international visitation in the future, one may argue that a landmark would help boosting Melbourne’s global perception as tourism destination.

ATP Grand Slam

Melbourne is host to the annual Australian Open

Challenges for the future of Melbourne

Population growth is one of the main challenges for Melbourne and its authorities. By 2030, Melbourne is expected to overtake Sydney as Australia’s largest city in terms of inhabitants. By 2050 the city’s population will have almost doubled to 8 million people. Most new residents find their home in the outer suburb areas, dramatically increasing the size of the metropolitan region. The pace of growth of resident numbers is significantly putting Melbourne’s liveability and competitiveness at risk. Therefore, the government has issued a new metropolitan planning strategy to enable the city and outer regions to cope with increasing density and congestion. Infrastructure projects play a key role in this regard.

Another contemporary issue the city is facing is water scarcity. It is one of the most urgent challenges to implement strategies that ensure efficient use of water among citizens, tourists, and businesses. This is especially given the growing population and increasing visitor numbers. The government has set benchmarks of how many liters of water each citizen should consume on an average daily basis. Decision-makers are dependent on educating its citizens and raise awareness of the issue also among visitors. They provide guidelines on the time each person should spend in the shower and try to push tourism businesses and especially hotels to encourage their customers to use water efficiently and in limited amounts.

Melbourne CBD

There are several challenges that Melbourne will need to cope with in the future

Conducting field research in a city destination

Throughout the month of February our Master TDM students are conducting field research in Melbourne. They are required to collect and assess information gathered through observations, interviews, and informal conversations with locals and visitors. In seven research teams throughout three pre-defined research areas they will analyze the role of different tourism stakeholders of both private and public sector.

It is up to the respective groups to decide on the relevance of primary data they collect as well as on the degree to which they embed it into macro developments of which few are touched upon in this blog entry. Conducting field research in a city destination can be a challenging task especially as tourism mostly takes only a very limited role within the daily realities of urban areas. Nevertheless, we are greatly looking forward to the results of our TDM students and are curious about how they experience their first assignment outside of their comfort zones. We hope they will enjoy their tasks and most importantly learn valuable lessons that will help them during the upcoming projects in Sri Lanka and Bali.


Study in historic environment

State Library of Victoria in Melbourne


Melbourne Beaches

Iconic shacks at Brighton Beach


Melbourne surroundings

The Twelve Apostles – one of the major visitor attractions in Victoria