Michael has longstanding teaching and research interests in tourism and temporary mobility, regional development, environmental history, and sustainability with current research dealing with such issues as social marketing and behavioral change; place marketing; governance, power and policy making in tourism; steady-state and ecological economic perspectives; servicescapes and the design of places of consumption; second homes and multiple-dwelling; conservation and environmental and climate change; national park history as well as the travels and influence of John Muir; the impacts of hallmark events; biodiversity conservation and biosecurity from a tourism and mobility context; and the use of tourism as an economic development and environmental conservation mechanism especially in peripheral areas. The latter representing a return to the wilderness research he undertook for his PhD. He also studies wine and food tourism and gastronomy, which requires strenuous research in the field, this is particularly focused on development of local economies, network relationships and social capital, food miles, biosecurity, farmers markets and alternative marketing channels for small-scale producers.
He is the author or editor of over 90 books as well as author of over 300 journal articles and 400 book chapters. He is one of the most frequently cited tourism researchers. In 2009 he was named the Elsevier ScienceDirect ‘For Great Thinking’, Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences category winner.
Hon. Doctoris Causa (Faculty of Arts), University of Umeå, 2008; Honorary Doctor (Faculty of Science), University of Oulu, 2013; Honorary Doctor (Faculty of Social Science) Lund University; Elsevier ScienceDirect ‘For Great Thinking’, Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences category (2009)