Allan Williams

Professor Allan Williams

Chair in Tourism and Mobility Studies
+44 (0)1483 686308
45 AP 02


Areas of specialism

Economic development and mobility. Tourism. International migration. Innovation. Entrepreneurship. Productivity

My qualifications

BSc(Econ) Joint Honours in Economics and Geography
University of Wales
PhD in Geography
London School of Economics

Affiliations and memberships

Fellow of the Academy of Social Science
Fellow of the International Academy for the Study of Tourism


Research interests

Research projects


Calvin Jephcote, Allan M. Williams, Gang LI, Hania Janta (2022)Return migration and employment mobility: a pan-European analysis, In: Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies Routledge

Although there has been increasing focus on the employment mobility associated with migration and return, a number of important research gaps can be identified. First, there has been greater focus on occupational mobility than on changes in economic activity, although it is their interaction which determines welfare outcomes. Moreover, most studies of economic activity have focused on either self-employment, or the simple dichotomy between being employed versus unemployed, neglecting the shifts between full-time, part-time, and casual employment. Secondly, research on the determinants of these different types of employment mobility has been relatively narrowly focused on individual economic factors. Most studies have been fragmented, especially lacking a comparative element. To address these gaps, descriptive statistics and Bayesian multilevel models are applied to a pan-European panel survey of 3851 young returned migrants. The findings disclose that positive shifts in employment mobility are more evident in economic activity than in occupations, and for those with a lower occupational status prior to migration. Although a range of significant determinants of employment mobility are identified, the findings also demonstrate that education is a major driver of occupational mobility, while marital and family status are important influences on economic activity shifts. Supplemental data for this article can be accessed online at

Cristina Figueroa-Domecq, Anna de Jong, Albert Nsom Kimbu, Allan M. Williams (2022)Financing tourism entrepreneurship: a gender perspective on the reproduction of inequalities, In: Journal of sustainable tourism Routledge

Market economies are often characterised by a failure to self-regulate. One of the most enduring of these 'market failures' is the ability to maximise the entrepreneurial potential to generate growth. Within this context, gender remains one of, and probably, the most prevalent dimension of this perceived failure to maximise entrepreneurial potential. Feminist political economy provides a starting point for understanding this reproduction of inequalities via policy interventions that have sought to address perceived market failure. This paper analyses how such gendered inequalities are reproduced. Through the critical assessment of Spain's Emprendetur funding scheme, active from 2012 to 2016, 996 applications were analysed, through a content analysis, applying a gender perspective. The findings, including a decision tree analysis, demonstrate not only that women participate less as applicants in the funding scheme but are also less successful. This can be partly explained because women apply via business typologies that are less successful in relation to the dominance of ICT and technologically informed innovations. However, the barriers extend beyond these typologies; for even when controlling for critical success factors like project size, women are less successful, experiencing a double gender gap, that underlines the need for a gender lens policy approach.

MICHAEL HUMBRACHT, ALLAN MORGAN WILLIAMS, SCOTT ALLEN COHEN (2022)Cruel (Im)mobilities and the Nearly Utopian Intimacies of Italian Migrants’ Personal Relationships, In: Global networks : a journal of transnational affairs Wiley
Allan M. Williams, Jason Li Chen, Gang Li, Vladimir Baláž (2022)Risk, uncertainty and ambiguity amid COVID-19: A multi-national analysis of international travel intentions, In: Annals of tourism research [e-journal]92103346 Elsevier

This study analyses how Covid-19 shapes individuals’ international tourism intentions in context of bounded rationality. It provides a novel analysis of risk which is disaggregated into tolerance/aversion of and competence to manage risks across three different aspects: general, domain (tourism) and situational (Covid-19). The impacts of risk are also differentiated from uncertainty and ambiguity. The empirical study is based on large samples (total=8,962) collected from the world’s top five tourism source markets: China, USA, Germany, UK and France. Various risk factors show significant predictive powers of individual’s intentions to defer international tourism plans amid Covid-19. Uncertainty and ambiguity intolerance is shown to lead to intentions to take holidays relatively sooner rather than delaying the holiday plans. 

ALLAN MORGAN WILLIAMS, Vladimir Baláž (2021)Tourism and Trust: Theoretical Reflections, In: Journal of travel research60(8)pp. 1619-1634 Sage

Tourism researchers have increasingly, but selectively and uncritically, engaged with the notion of trust. This study therefore aims to provide a stronger theoretical foundation for understanding tourism-related trust, starting from consideration of uncertainty and the nature of tacit knowledge. The relationship between displacement and uncertainty is at the core of the distinctiveness of trust in tourism, highlighting the importance of institutions, but also recognizing the diversity of tourism contexts. Three disciplinary perspectives on trust are considered: economics, psychology, and sociology. After outlining their general characteristics in relation to McKnight and Chervany’s typology of trust, we review their application in tourism, and conclude by identifying a future research agenda to address the distinctive characteristics of trust in tourism.

ALLAN MORGAN WILLIAMS, ISABEL RODRIGUEZ, Teemu Makkonen (2020)Innovation and smart destinations: Critical insights, In: Annals of tourism research83102930 Elsevier Ltd

Smart destinations have become an esteemed concept among researchers and policy makers. Discussion of the concept is optimistic in tone and commonly linked to information rather than knowledge and more to design than innovation. This partly explains the relatively limited critical discussion of the (potential) benefits of smart destinations. The article raises selected issues from the innovation, as opposed to the design, literature to offer insightful perspectives on analyzing smart destinations. The discussion emphasises that: 1) smart destinations are driven by uncertainty; 2) knowledge provides deeper insights than information into smart destinations as innovation; 3) entrepreneurs play an important role in facilitating smart destinations; and 4) smart destinations constitute innovation systems. •Smart destinations are driven by uncertainty.•Knowledge provides deeper insights than information into smart destinations.•Entrepreneurs play an important role in facilitating smart destinations.•Smart destinations constitute innovation systems.•Innovation adds a more holistic perspective than design to understand smart destinations.

HANNA JANTA, CALVIN JEPHCOTE, ALLAN MORGAN WILLIAMS, Gang Li (2021)Returned migrants acquisition of competences: the contingencies of space and time, In: Journal of ethnic and migration studies47(8)pp. 1740-1757 Routledge

The conditions which determine the acquisition of skills by migrants are still poorly understood. This paper addresses two of those conditions: the temporality of the acquisition of competences, whether the number and duration of migrations matter, as well as the spatiality, or the variation across countries of origin and return. Based on a large-scale online panel survey of returned young migrants in nine European countries, the significance of time (duration) and space (number of migrations) in the acquisition of skills and competences are examined. The findings reveal that young European returnees' experiences gained abroad result in largely positive outcomes but with significant differences between formal qualifications, language skills and personal and cultural competences. However, their acquisition of skills and competences is mediated by temporality - the combination of number of trips, and duration of migration. Spatiality is also important, with outcomes depending on the destination countries, and whether migration and return are from or to rural versus urban areas. These indicate that structural considerations continue to shape individual migration experiences within the EU's freedom of movement space.

Zhelyu Vladimirov, ALLAN MORGAN WILLIAMS (2018)Hotel innovations and performance – The mediating role of staff related innovations, In: Tourism management perspectives28pp. 166-178 Elsevier Ltd

Direct and indirect effects of types of innovation and other factors on both staff related innovations and performance. [Display omitted] •Innovations and other factors have both direct and indirect effects on performance.•Staff innovations mediate fully the effects of internal and two external factors.•Staff innovations mediate partially the effects of two other external factors.•Staff innovations mediate the effects of other types of innovation.•Staff and product innovations have the strongest total effects on performance.

Teemu Makkonen, A Weidenfeld, ALLAN MORGAN WILLIAMS (2017)Cross‐Border Regional Innovation System Integration: An Analytical Framework, In: Tijdschrift voor economische en sociale geografie108(6)pp. 805-820 Wiley

The importance of inter‐regional co‐operation and innovation are widely accepted in the development rhetoric of the European Union. The highlighted importance of both themes in the context of borderlands has recently led to the coining of a new concept, cross‐border regional innovation system. However, little attention has been given to the empirical analysis of the concept. This paper suggests a framework for empirically validating the concept by examining the levels of integration between cross‐border regions. The outcome is a proposed framework that can be operationalised by measurable indicators of cross‐border co‐operation in a regional innovation system setting. The framework was further tested with illustrative empirical cases that demonstrate its feasibility.

Michael Humbracht, Scott Cohen, Allan M. Williams (2022)Aspirational intimacy in visiting friends and relatives, In: Annals of Tourism Research94103403 Elsevier

Tourism research on visiting friends and relatives remains normative and family-centric. The literature has yet to question the normative underpinnings of relationships and remains oriented around physical proximity. This paper therefore aims to understand the shifting qualities and intimacies of migrant personal relationships developed across diverse means for maintaining relationships. It draws from a multi-sited ethnography that includes interviews from migrants and friends and family living at a distance. Framed through theory on personal relationships and affect, we introduce the concept ‘aspirational intimacy’. This shows how important relationships become oriented around aspirations of normalcy and belonging that construct shared capacities to feel connected, while imagining alternative possibilities for relationships and life-course trajectories.

Z. Palovic, Hania Janta, ALLAN MORGAN WILLIAMS (2021)In search of global skillsets: manager perceptions of the value of returned migrants and the relational nature of knowledge, In: Journal of ethnic and migration studies47(8)pp. 1793-1810 Routledge

This article builds on the seminal work of Williams and Baláž (2008a) on international migration and knowledge, by arguing that the economic value of the knowledge is relational, being dependent on how it is recognised by potential employers. By analysing in-depth interviews with sixteen managers which are contrasted with insights from thirty interviews with skilled returnees to Slovakia, this study aims to identify the extent to which return migration is considered to facilitate knowledge transfer, and the diversification of the knowledge available, to organisations. The findings reveal that skilled migration is understood by managers to facilitate accelerated learning that contributes to professional and personal development in several ways. Firstly, formal qualifications gained abroad are valued, particularly in context of perceived limitations to the national educational system. Secondly, the managers consider that returnees have acquired not only technical skills, such as market know-how and business intelligence but also soft skills. Finally, the study indicates that far from facing barriers to the recognition of their knowledge by employers, this was acknowledged and welcomed. Managers with personal exposure to international migration were predisposed to recognising the experiences of returned migrants, and this was most evident in the recruitment practices of the multinationals.

WEIZHENG ZHANG, ALLAN MORGAN WILLIAMS, Gang Li, ANYU LIU (2022)Entrepreneurial responses to uncertainties during the COVID-19 recovery: A longitudinal study of B&Bs in Zhangjiajie, China, In: Tourism management (1982)91104525 Elsevier Ltd

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought sweeping changes to global tourism alongside large-scale travel restrictions, posing complex challenges to entrepreneurs and firms seeking to find their footing in a turbulent climate. This study presents a theoretical framework linking uncertainty, capital, and innovation to analyse how bed-and-breakfast small and medium-sized enterprises have innovatively responded to unprecedented obstacles during COVID-19 recovery. Three-stage longitudinal interviews were conducted with more than 30 entrepreneurs between April and November 2020 to unpack their ongoing responses to the pandemic. The recovery process was found to be non-linear due to the shifting nature of sources of uncertainty and changes in entrepreneurs' capital. These alterations shaped interviewees’ responses, especially in terms of product and marketing innovations, which ultimately generated new uncertainty.

YOO RI KIM, ANYU LIU, ALLAN MORGAN WILLIAMS (2021)Competitiveness in the visitor economy: A systematic literature review, In: Tourism Economics SAGE Publications

Competitiveness is a well-discussed research topic in various disciplines and fields, amongst which competitiveness in the visitor economy is a prominent research stream. With rapid transformations in the visitor economy, destinations, regions, sectors and businesses have had to adapt – with varying degrees of success – to internal and external changes, significantly affecting their competitiveness. Existing studies are dominantly based on a few pioneering models and indicators and relatively few empirically challenge the assumed causality of competitiveness factors at different scales. This article, therefore, conducts a systematic literature review of competitiveness in the visitor economy post-2005 and examines the intellectual and conceptual structures of the extant literature as a platform to identify knowledge gaps and emerging trends and perspectives for future research.

Vladimir Baláž, Eduard Nežinský , ALLAN MORGAN WILLIAMS (2020)Terrorism, Migrant Crisis and Attitudes towards non-EU Immigrants, In: Population, Space and Place Wiley

This paper analyses how terrorist attacks and high inflows of immigrants’ impact public atti-tudes towards immigrants from outside the EU. It makes an original contribution by analys-ing both effects in tandem, using an extended longitudinal framework to assess both shorter and longer-term impacts, and considering the role of uncertainty. Ordered probit regression models are applied to data from nine consecutive Eurobarometer (EB) surveys to examine impacts of 25 terrorist attacks in Western Europe in 2014-2018. Attacks with higher number of deaths significantly increase negative attitudes to immigrants although the effect fades over time. However, the 2015 migration crisis had a significant, greater and more sustained impact on attitudes towards immigrants than terrorist attacks. The differences in attitudes to migrants in the EU15 countries and post-communist countries provide support for the as-sumptions of intergroup contact theory rather than group-threat theory.

Chao Liu, ALLAN MORGAN WILLIAMS, Gang Li (2022)Knowledge management practices of tourism consultants: A project ecology perspective, In: Tourism management (1982)91 Elsevier Ltd

This study advances the contextual understanding of knowledge management practices adopted by tourism consultants in the setting of tourism development projects. It goes beyond the traditional understanding of the bounded nature of firms to analyse knowledge management issues through a project-based multi-layered perspective, namely project ecology. An innovative participant-observation methodology is utilised to study 15 episodic projects at three tourism development companies over a 12-month period. This provides an insider perspective to enhance understanding of the knowledge management practices and collaborations of tourism consultants. The study reveals two underlying logics that shape knowledge management practices: the logics of creativity and accumulation. The findings exhibit how knowledge management is moulded by the practices within, and interactions among, the four tiers of a multi-level project-specific contextual framework. •Analysis of project knowledge management focussed on the holistic social contexts of episodic projects instead of the bounded firm or the destination networks.•Innovative participant observation fieldwork took place in 15 tourism development projects over 12 months.•This is the first study that utilises the project ecology perspective in tourism research.•Two contrasting but interacted logics of knowledge management practices adopted by tourism consultants in tourism development projects are identified: the logic of creativity and the logic of accumulation.

ISABEL RODRIGUEZ, Alejandro Mantecón, ALLAN MORGAN WILLIAMS, Teemu Makkonen, YOO RI KIM (2021)Originality: The Holy Grail of Tourism Research, In: Journal of Travel research Sage

Originality is an important goal of research. However, relatively little is known about the characteristics and motivations of individual researchers or about the facilitating or hindering factors that, in combination, can lead to original research outputs; a gap this study aims to fill. Interviews with twenty highly original academics (identified by their peers) active in the field of tourism identify four shared main traits amongst such researchers – nonconformism, commitment, self-confidence and interdisciplinarity – and the importance of situational factors. The findings also show that there is no single optimum way of “becoming original” and, therefore, efforts to “replicate” originality may constrain rather than enable originality. From a managerial perspective, this suggests that it is easier to remove barriers than to positively facilitate original research

The paper explores how second-generation Turkish-German ‘returnees’ benefit from their “inbetweenness” in their ancestral homeland and initiate a process of re-inventing themselves as ‘transcultural mediators’. A thematic-narrative analysis was undertaken on 43 in-depth interviews with second-generation Turkish-German ‘return’ migrants to Antalya who had acquired jobs in the tourism sector. The paper unpacks how this tourism hub provides “third spaces” distanced from prominent national and diasporic identities, and the ways in which these liberating spaces encourage the lifestyle-style oriented, cosmopolitan second-generation ‘returnees’ to re-position themselves in their translocal social fields. The findings illustrate how the second generation, who formerly endured “being twice a stranger” in Germany and Turkey, undertake a process of transculturation in Antalya, and utilise their “transcultural capital” (i.e., bilingual skills, bi- multilingualism, translocal habitus) to perform different aspects of their multiple and hybrid identities, gain economic independence and build social relations.

Additional publications