Towards an economic-geographical approach to the globalisation of the hotel industry

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In the field of economic geography, the hotel industry is largely under-researched. Meanwhile, its worldwide development has reached the level whereby it can no longer be neglected by economic geographers if the tourism production system and, more generally, the globalisation of services are to be understood. The argument of this paper is twofold. First, it is contended that an economic-geographical approach to the hotel industry can significantly enhance our understanding of this important sub-sector of tourism. Although the paper recognises the useful insights into the internationalisation/globalisation of the hotel industry elaborated within management and business studies, it argues that they fall short of exploring the globalisation of the hotel sector in three important respects: the multi-actor nature of the hotel industry, the territorial embeddedness of hotel groups in host markets and the influence of expanding hotel groups on economic development. Given that these gaps are geographical in nature, the paper argues the case for the global production networks approach as an effective theoretical platform from which they can be addressed.
Second, it is argued that the hotel industry can serve as a good sectoral case through which our understanding of the globalisation of services can be advanced. Enhanced attention to business models of hotel groups is argued to be a key to both of these advancements.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-67
Number of pages20
JournalTourism Geographies
Issue number1
Early online date20 Dec 2013
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014


  • international hotel industry
  • globalisation of services
  • global production networks,
  • business models
  • international hotel groups
  • tourism production system


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