Our research

Since its inauguration in 2010, the Tourism Research Cluster (TRC) has been the fundamental player in Curtin’s world-class rated research in the area. The TRC is a vibrant cross-faculty research group of internationally-recognised academics. The TRC connects industry, government and academia and offers a gateway for students to develop research skills in the area. Through its diverse network of tourism academics from backgrounds such as marketing, geography, management, cultural anthropology, public policy, spatial sciences, and statistics as well as its international Adjunct Professors, the TRC targets topical tourism issues with wide-ranging expertise.

The TRC maintains close ties with industry and government partners, including Tourism Western Australia, the Western Australian Indigenous Tourism Operators Council the UN World Tourism Organization and several regional tourism organisations and development commissions.

Since 2018, Curtin University has been rated among the top 50 universities worldwide for Tourism and Hospitality in the Shanghai Global Ranking of Universities. Since 2010, tourism research has been consistently ranked as world class in the Excellence in Research in Australia Assessment.

The Tourism Research Cluster’s key research areas in the sector include, yet extend beyond

  • Sustainable, Responsible and Aboriginal Tourism, Hospitality and Events,
  • Innovation and Digitalisation in Tourism, Hospitality and Events,
  • Tourism, Hospitality and Events for Local Communities.

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Key projects

Assessing Tourism Potentials in the Fitzroy Valley

The TRC launched a ground-breaking new report on Assessing Tourism Potentials in the Fitzroy Valley with Environs Kimberley and Pew Charitable Trusts over breakfast at Matilda Bay Restaurant on 16 February, 2022. Authored by the TRC’s A/Prof Michael Volgger, Prof Christof Pforr, Prof Ross Taplin and Sara Cavalcanti Marques, along with Prof Mike Dockery from the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre, the report delivers compelling findings on sustainable Indigenous tourism development in WA’s Kimberley region and investigates potential visitor numbers, expenditure and employment opportunities in the Fitzroy Valley, alongside Traditional Owner preferences and aspirations. The study identifies strategic industries of existing strength, and an estimation of job creation opportunities.

Bunuba Dawangirri Aboriginal Corporation Director Joe Ross’ video presentation is available to view online.

Researcher names: Associate Professor Michael Volgger, Professor Christof Pforr, Professor Ross Taplin and Sara Cavalcanti Marques, along with Professor Mike Dockery

Download fact sheet [PDF 630kb]

Download executive summary [PDF 3mb]

Download full report [PDF 8mb]

Australia’s South West Sustainable Tourism Observatory

Established in 2019, the Australia’s South West Sustainable Tourism Observatory supports Western Australia’s second largest tourism region in its sustainable tourism development by providing relevant and up-to-date data. The South West Observatory has officially been recognised and incorporated into the prestigious group of the UN World Tourism Organization’s International Network of Sustainable Tourism Observatories (INSTO) as the first of its kind in Australia. The Observatory operates in close partnership with government and industry, including partners such as the Western Australian Government, Tourism Western Australia, Australia’s South West, Parks and Wildlife Service, the South West Development Commission, the Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association, RAC Parks and Resorts and Expedia.

Researcher names: Associate Professor Michael Volgger, Dr Ben Thomas, Professor Kirsten Holmes, Professor Christof Pforr, Professor Mohammed Quaddus, Professor Ross Taplin, Associate Professor Jianhong (Cecilia) Xia

Download fact sheet [PDF 588kb]

Download fact sheet [PDF 580kb]

Indian Ocean Tourism Research Initiative (IO-TRI) 
A multi-disciplinary and cross-campus team of Curtin researchers in Western Australia and Curtin’s global campuses in Malaysia and Mauritius have been awarded funding from the Curtin University’s Deans of Research to implement an Indian Ocean Tourism Research Program. The team is led by Dr Michael Volgger (School of Management and Marketing, Tourism Research Cluster Co-Director) and includes researchers from the Faculties of Business and Law, Humanities, Science and Engineering and Medical Sciences. This research program supports the creation of adaptable, resilient and sustainable tourism industries in the Indian Ocean context by facilitating and endorsing research projects in target counties, and expands the work of the Curtin Tourism Research Cluster internationally. Research is carried out in close collaboration with industry and government in countries bordering the Indian Ocean and will concentrate on digital technologies supporting cultural and heritage tourism, connectivity and mobility, and mental health/consumer confidence in post-COVID-19 tourism. The Initiative provided seed funding for the execution of three different research projects, which target:

  • International travel and risk perception among tourists, COVID-19 recovery with a focus on elderly and vulnerable tourists.
  • The future of aviation in terms of crisis recovery, regarding preference for hub & spoke versus ultra-long haul flights.
  • Digital representation as a tool to connect and reconnect with visitors and help maintain tourism destinations front-of-mind to potential travellers during crises and travel restrictions.

Researcher names: Associate Professor Michael Volgger, Dr Christina Lee, Professor Ross Taplin, Associate  Professor Cecilia Xia, Dr Michael Baird, Professor Barbara Mullan, Associate Professor Eleanor Quested, Dr David McMeekin

The Evolution of the Peer-to-Peer Economy

Digital technologies including peer-to-peer networks have been among the main disruptors to the tourism, hospitality and events industries. The TRC is involved in a number of projects to better understand the evolution, consumer behaviour and impacts of the P2P economy on tourism and society. This research includes investigations about inter-cultural host-guest relationship building and hospitableness in the P2P sector, research on the nature of the success factors of the P2P industry as well as on the effect of P2P business models on sustainable development.

Responsible Tourism, Hospitality and Events Development

Tourism, hospitality and events realities have been shifting rapidly from a discussion about overtourism to dramatic impacts due to several crises in Australia (bushfires) and worldwide (COVID-19). The TRC appreciates that it is more than ever necessary to find balanced and long-term approaches to develop tourism, hospitality and events in a manner that benefit locals, businesses and tourists alike and avoids discontent with any of those stakeholders. TRC researchers are currently examining how more ethical tourist behaviour can be encouraged in hospitality contexts, how volunteering can strengthen the beneficial impact of events, how transgressive tourism behaviour can be prevented and how policy approaches can address these challenges.

Ongoing research projects

Australia’s South West Sustainable Tourism Observatory

Established in 2019, the Australia’s South West Sustainable Tourism Observatory supports Western Australia’s second largest tourism region in its sustainable tourism development by providing relevant and up-to-date data. The South West Observatory has officially been recognised and incorporated into the prestigious group of the UN World Tourism Organization’s International Network of Sustainable Tourism Observatories (INSTO) as the first of its kind in Australia. The Observatory operates in close partnership with government and industry, including partners such as the Western Australian Government, Tourism Western Australia, Australia’s South West, Parks and Wildlife Service, the South West Development Commission, the Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association, RAC Parks and Resorts and Expedia.

Researcher names: Michael Volgger, Ben Thomas, Kirsten Holmes, Professor Christof Pforr, Professor Mohammed Quaddus, Professor Ross Taplin, A/Prof Jianhong (Cecilia) Xia

Assessing tourism potentials in the Fitzroy Valley in WA's Kimberley region

A team of Curtin researchers has been commissioned by Environs Kimberley to develop the research project  ‘Assessing tourism potentials in the Fitzroy Valley’. The project has the aims of investigating tourism potentials for the Fitzroy Valley under a National Park development scenario and/or if the Kimberley were to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This project brings together some of the TRC’s key research interests and capabilities, including sustainability, Aboriginal tourism, and regional area/destination development. It adopts a problem-driven collaborative approach combining qualitative and quantitative  methods, including extensive surveying of potential visitors and in-depth interviews with local Aboriginal leaders and tourism stakeholders. The key focus of the project was to consider potential job opportunities and co-benefits to local communities that would arise from sustainable tourism development in the Fitzroy Valley and the protection of the Fitzroy River, in line with the demands of local residents.
The Fitzroy Valley is nestled within the West Kimberley region of Western Australia and is home to five distinct language groups (Bunuba, Walmajarri, Wangkatjungka, Nyikina and Gooniyandi). The Fitzroy Valley sustains a rich and continuing Aboriginal culture dating back tens of thousands of years, with all five language groups being interlinked by songlines anchored in the might Fitzroy River, one of Australia’s largest free-flowing rivers and sanctuary for a number of endangered species.
Researchers: A/Prof Michael Volgger, Prof Christof Pforr, Prof Ross Taplin, Prof Mike Dockery (Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre), Sara Cavalcanti Marques and Steve Kinnane (The University of Notre Dame)

Mapping the event management skills and knowledge legacy from the Olympic Games 1988-2000

While the world looks forward to the Tokyo Olympic Games, Prof Kirsten Holmes has been investigating the benefits of hosting past Olympics. The project ‘Mapping the event management skills and knowledge legacy from the Olympic Games 1988-2000’, funded by the International Olympic Committee’s Advanced Olympic Games program, has involved developing a series of indicators for measuring the event skills and knowledge legacies, which are currently being tested on seven Olympic Games from Seoul through to Sydney. These case studies will help identify the usability and usefulness of the legacy indicators.

Researchers: The project is led by A/Prof Judith Mair from the University of Queensland alongside A/Prof Leonie Lockstone-Binney from Griffith University and Prof Kirsten Holmes form Curtin University.

Scoping study for National Park visitor safety

The TRC is currently working with the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) on a pilot springboard research program to assist the Department in developing and optimising a marketing communication campaign on park visitor safety. The pilot involves a short literature review, a user journey mapping exercise, and consultation to provide evidence-based recommendations for optimising DBCA’s communication plan, examining existing marketing touchpoint and identifying gaps in park visitor safety communication.

Researchers: A/Prof Billy Sung and A/Prof Michael Volgger

Transitions in Mining Economies (TIME) CRC

Prof Kirsten Holmes is working with colleagues nationally to examine the opportunities for post-mine use for the Transitions in Mining Economies (TIME) CRC. The project, worth $149,995, involves developing case studies of successful mine closures and post-mining use, including tourism, from around Australia. These case studies will be used to create timelines for successful post-mine use for future mine closures.

Event hiatus, resilience and innovation in the time of COVID-19

Prof Kirsten Holmes and TRC Adjunct Prof Jane Ali-Knight are examining the impact of COVID-19 on Edinburgh’s Festivals. Funded by Napier University, the project ‘Event hiatus, resilience and innovation in the time of COVID-19’ will identify how events and festivals have pivoted their offerings to include online and hybrid, the organisational challenges involved and how the new events are received by audiences. The project team also includes Dr Gary Kerr from Napier University.

The luxury-sustainability paradox: Complementary or conflicting

Luxury thrives on self-enhancement values such as elitism, hedonism, and extravagance, while sustainability requires self-transcendent values such as equality, moderation, and universalism; can they coexist? The project aims to understand tourists’ perceptions of sustainability and how it impacts on their behaviours in a luxury tourism/hospitality context.

TRC Researcher: Dr Sean Lee

Bad tourists: an issue of ignorance, ego-defensiveness, in-group bias or just bad manners?

As tourism increases, so do reports of tourist transgressions at destinations, often creating animosity between tourists and local residents. The current project examines the degree to which these transgressions are a result of a lack of acculturation, ego-defensiveness, in-group bias or plain narcissism.

TRC Researcher: Dr Sean Lee


Sustainability and the sharing economy

While the sharing economy has been widely regarded as a more sustainable form of business model by using under-utilised goods and services over ownership, emerging evidence suggests that a sustainable future based on the peer-to-peer sharing model is currently uncertain. The current project investigates the economic, social and environmental impacts of the largest peer-to-peer accommodation provider – Airbnb through an interdisciplinary lens.

TRC Researcher: Dr Mingming Cheng

Past research projects

The Practice of Sustainable Tourism: Resolving the Paradox

Sustainable tourism is a widely used term that has accumulated considerable attention from researchers and policy makers over the past two decades. However, there is still an apparently wide gap between theory and practice in the area. Recent scholarly research has tended to focus on niche areas of alternative tourism rather than address the broader issues and vagaries and paradoxes that appear to plague the broader notion of sustainable tourism. As such, there is a need for a new and pragmatic analysis of sustainable tourism as an overarching idea and how this manifests in practice. The Practice of Sustainable Tourism fulfils this need by offering a fresh perspective on sustainable tourism as an umbrella concept with inherent tensions. It presents a way of thinking about tourism based on the notion of finding common ground using the dialectic tradition of philosophy. Dialectics focuses on resolving opposing viewpoints by recognising they have common elements that can be combined into a rational and practical solution over time. As part of this approach, the book examines the strongly apparent tensions within alternative tourism as well as the paradox of continuing growth and other mass tourism related issues.

TRC Researcher: Professor Christof Pforr

Further information: Hughes, M.; Weaver, D. & Pforr, C. (eds) 2015. The Practice of Sustainable Tourism: Resolving the Paradox. New York: Routledge

Tourism Public Policy for Sustainable Development? Discrepancies between Rhetoric and Reality

It goes without saying that since the 1980s mainly its economic significance has resulted in an increased government involvement in tourism with tourism policies almost exclusively centred on tourism’s economic returns. Only over the past two or three decades and in light of an emerging sustainable development discourse, governments’ policy agendas have begun to broaden to also consider social and environmental issues. Nevertheless, tourism policy’s alignment with a neo-liberal economic framework and the traditional dominance of a single economic development narrative have governments left with little choice to effectively address a dramatically changing tourism environment and to deliver a more balanced sustainability. It can be argued that this ideological policy landscape has often resulted in a lacking political will to acknowledge and address current challenges with a decisive policy response, for instance, to tourism’s vulnerability to climate change, to the transformational forces behind the sharing economy or to the phenomenon of over-tourism, which has been experienced mainly in Europe and Asia in the past couple of years. Government silence on those issues might create not only a perception of non-decision-making (Bachrach and Baratz 1970) or policy inaction (McConnell & ‘t Hart 2019) but could also be seen as policy failure (Hall 2011).

Professor Pforr’s sustainability research is focused on the dynamics and controversial socio-political processes of implementing sustainable development, in particular how political processes affect the translation of the sustainability agenda into the tourism system.

TRC Researcher: Professor Christof Pforr

Developing mega-event legacy indicators for ‘eventful’ cities

Hosting of mega events has been proposed to be a potential catalyst for accelerating the ‘eventfulness’ of host cities, however there is currently no research evidence to support this claim.

This project addresses the following research objectives:

  • Establish to what extent hosting of the Commonwealth Games generates a legacy of event management skills, knowledge and networks that support the hosting of other major events in the host city.
  • Develop a set of indicators that measure an eventful city in respect of its capacity (skills, knowledge and networks) to host future events.

This project uses the case of the recent hosting of the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Gold Coast, Australia. Draft indicators have been developed based on a comprehensive review of secondary data to compile a list of potential indicators that measure an eventful city in respect of its capacity (skills, knowledge and networks) to host future events. The draft indicators are now being tested through a Delphi study with experts on events and festivals. The final indicators will be a world first with no extant measures available to assess the event hosting legacy of mega events.

TRC researcher: Professor Kirsten Holmes
Project partners: A/Prof Leonie Lockstone-Binney (Griffith Uni) and A/Prof Judith Mair (University of Queensland)
Funding: The Commonwealth Sport University Network, Griffith University and the Commonwealth Games Federation.

Product development at Creery Wetlands (Mandurah)

In collaboration with Visit Mandurah, this project supports the evidence-based generation of ideas for tourism product development and the enhancement of visitor experience at the Creery Wetlands in Mandurah. This project combines methods of atmospheric analysis, biometric analysis and idea generation to further enhance the experience at the wetlands for residents and tourist, to promote awareness generation and the conservation of the cultural and natural significance of the place. The City of Mandurah is Western Australia’s largest regional city. Creery Wetlands Nature Reserve is located on the north-eastern side of the Peel Inlet. The Creery Wetlands have cultural and natural significance. Among others, the wetlands are an important habitat for waterbirds, including 22 species of migratory shorebirds.

TRC Researchers: Dr Michael Volgger, Professor Christof Pforr, Dr Billy Sung, Ms Sara Marques

Download fact sheet [PDF 655KB]

Can tourism advertising capitalise on health management?

WA applied strong public health management during the COVID-19 pandemic. When borders were opened to overseas travellers in March 2022, after almost two years of strict closure, there was hope that international tourists will be attracted by WA’s successful pandemic management. The aim of this paper was to analyse if institutional trust due to advertising successful health management during a pandemic increases the attractiveness of a tourism destination in the recovery stage, or whether convenience and self-efficacy provided by advertising complimentary travel insurance is more important. The study applied a 25 randomised experimental design to test the effectiveness of different advertising messages on tourists’ willingness to visit an international destination at the tail end of the COVID-19 pandemic. Depending on the tourist’s vaccination status and prior belief about how well the destination managed the pandemic, intention to visit was increased with information about the destination’s health performance, its vaccination rates, and by increasing self-efficacy and convenience through providing complimentary travel insurance.

TRC Researcher: Dr Michael Volgger, Prof Ross Taplin

Download fact sheet [PDF 600KB]

Contemporary heritage movements in Asia

This project seeks to understand the role of activism in the transformations of heritage and its politics with a specific focus on the Asian continent. To this end, it draws on theories of social movements to discern various modes of engagement as well as the use of strategies, resources, material and emotional factors in forming activism in cultural heritage. Combining the knowledge gathered in heritage and in movements studies, the project seeks to develop methodologies for understanding heritage politics.

 Current and pending research outcomes: 

  • A Curtin International Visiting Fellowship is supporting the collaboration of Professor James Jasper from City University in the Asian Heritage Movements project.
  • A one day Masterclass in February 2015 at Curtin University on social movements led by Professor James Jasper and attended by 20 Curtin staff.
  • A co-authored paper by Professor James Jasper, Dr Tod Jones and Dr Ali Mozaffari.
  • An edited book titled Cultural Heritage Activism, Politics and Identity: Heritage Movements in Asia, edited by Ali Mozaffari and Tod Jones (under assessment for publication by National University of Singapore Press).
  • A panel at the June 2016 Critical Heritage Studies Conference in Montreal on Activism, Civil Society and Heritage, co-chaired by Al Mozaffari and Tod Jones.

TRC Researchers: Dr Tod Jones
Other researchers: Dr Ali Mozaffari

Cooperative resorts in tourism

Hotel resort development provides a sometimes criticised but repeatedly followed path towards efficient and effective tourism operations worldwide. However, a strong regimentation of quantitative hotel growth complicated such hotel resort development in the accommodation sector in the region of South Tyrol, Italy, and has prompted some hotel businesses to build alternative strategic alliances to realise economies of scale and scope. These can be regarded as “cooperative resorts,” and these alliances characteristically include the integration of spatially divided and legally autonomous hotels within destinations, which partially mimic traditional resorts. This project highlights the development of such an alliance, its corporate strategic approach and its relationship with the tourism destination network.

TRC Researchers: Dr Michael Volgger, Professor Harald Pechlaner
Other researchers: Sabine Pichler (Eurac Research, Italy), Dr Marcus Herntrei (Deggendorf Institute of Technology, Germany)

Download fact sheet [PDF 600KB]

CSR in hospitality organisations

CSR is increasingly seen as an important business strategy. The key issue is that it relates to how the organisation is seen by various important stakeholders i.e. government, financial markets, customers, employees and a host of environmental enthusiasts in the local community. While at the heart of CSR is the ability to operate profitably, this must be achieved without sacrificing the environment, employees and the local community. CSR has benefits for corporate reputation and hotel branding, both of which could be sources of competitive advantage. These marketing implications have major implications in a competitive environment. CSR generates goodwill among key stakeholders and shield the organisation from criticism of sole focus on profit. Fortunately, in the medium term there is no trade-off between CSR and profitability especially if the starting point in its implementation, are managers and front line employees. It demands a change in attitude, constantly reinforced by senior management and made visible to customers and other key stakeholders. The investment needs not be too onerous as long as effective communication is undertaken. The process can be built over time starting with key priority areas that are of interest to the key stakeholders.

TRC Researchers: A/Prof Haywantee Rumi Ramkissoon; Adjunct Prof Dogan Gursoy
Other researchers: Professor Felix Mavondo (Monash University, Australia), Vishnee Payen (CSR Manager, LUX * Resorts & Hotels)

Demand-patterns regarding Airbnb in Australia and Germany

Airbnb is among the most prominent examples of peer-to-peer networks, which are strongly impacting on tourism. This novel form of accommodation provision may alter demand and supply structures in tourism destinations and has thus lead to concerns amongst established accommodation providers. In particular, it is questioned (1) whether Airbnb creates additional demand in a destination or whether it diverts business away from existing providers; and (2) whether Airbnb demand is linked to sustainable tourism behaviour.

TRC Researchers: Dr Michael Volgger, Professor Christof Pforr, Professor Ross Taplin
Other researchers: Dr Dirk Reiser (Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences), Steve Matthews (Tourism Research Australia, Australia), Dr Agnieszka Elzbieta Stawinoga (Eurac Research, Italy), Sophia Sänger (Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences, Germany)

Download fact sheet [PDF 620KB]

Destination design: A new concept for the development of tourism destinations?

The transdisciplinary approach of destination design combines perspectives on destination management and governance with design theory and aesthetic considerations. Thereby, it advances discussions about service design into experience and atmospheric design, which are crucial for the development of tourism destinations.

TRC Researchers: Professor Harald Pechlaner, Dr Michael Volgger, Professor Christof Pforr
Other researchers: Greta Erschbamer (Eurac Research, Italy)

Download fact sheet [PDF 580KB]

Destination leadership for quality improvement and competitiveness

Destination leadership is about motivating, encouraging and inspiring human actors by setting long-term values and directions. Compared to destination management, in destination leadership the human element as well as emotional factors gain in importance. A such, destination leadership is an important input factor for improving the quality of the tourism destination experience for visitors and residents alike. This project focuses on the definition of the relationship between quality management, destination competitiveness and destination leadership.

TRC Researchers: Professor Harald Pechlaner, Dr Michael Volgger
Other researchers: Professor Metin Kozak (Dokuz Eylul University, Turkey)

Exploring tourists’ (non)use of sustainability information in accommodation choices

The study explores how tourists compare accommodation offers that are both personally good (high egoistic value) and publicly deplorable (low altruistic value) with offers that perform well on both dimensions (“good/good” vs. “good/less bad”). In this context, the study investigates whether tourists consider information on altruistic value in accommodation choices and which type of information they give attention to: visual signals regarding aesthetic impact, contextual signals regarding accommodation type (hotels, farm holidays, camping, private accommodation), formal evidence such as labels and persuasion by introspective confrontation in a discussion of choices.

TRC Researchers: Dr Michael Volgger, Professor Christof Pforr, Professor Arch Woodside

Food, wine and China

This book specifically focuses on a growing demand for food and wine tourism experiences by Chinese visitors, which has become an important constituent of destination competitiveness in recent years. This topic will be explored from a demand as well as a specific destination response perspective. The aim of the book is two-fold: First, it seeks to better understand preferences, motivations and perceptions which drive food and wine consumption of Chinese tourists. Second, it also explores how food and wine tourism experiences have been used in a range of international destinations to specifically attract visitors from China focusing on the strategic directions adopted to guide destination development and marketing initiatives. Such a perspective provides a novel contribution to the still limited body of knowledge on China outbound tourism.

TRC Researchers: Christof Pforr (Co-Editor)
Other researchers: Ian Phau (Co-Editor)

Contributors are from New Zealand, Taiwan, China, Germany, Italy, UK, Malaysia and Australia:

  • Professor Michael Hall (University of Canterbury, New Zealand)
  • Professor Dai Bin (China Tourism Academy, China)
  • Dr Athena Mak (National Dong Hwa University, Taiwan)
  • Professor Richard Chang (National Dong Hwa University, Taiwan)
  • Dr Jo Fountain (Lincoln University, New Zealand)
  • Professor Wolfgang Georg Arlt (China Outbound Tourism Research Institute, Germany)
  • Professor Sam Huang (Edith Cowan University, Australia)
  • Professor Harald Pechlaner (University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt, Germany)
  • Dr Michael Volgger (Curtin University, Australia)
  • Dr David Lamb (Edith Cowan University, Australia)
  • Dr Alfred Olge (Edith Cowan University, Australia)
  • A/Prof Jane Ali-Knight (Edinburgh Napier University, UK)
  • A/Prof Vanessa Quintal (Curtin University, Australia)
  • Dr Ben Thomas (Curtin University, Australia)
  • Professor Ross Dowling (Edith Cowan University, Australia)
  • Dr Graham Ferguson (Curtin University, Australia)
  • Dr Isaac Cheah (Curtin University, Australia)
  • Dr Sean Lee (Curtin University, Australia)
  • Nazaruddin Haji Hamit (Curtin University, Sarawak, Malaysia)
  • Professor Piyush Sharma (Curtin University, Australia)
  • A/Prof Jeremy Galbreath (Curtin University, Australia)

Funding: Asia Business Centre
Further information: Pforr, C. & Phau, I. (2017) Food, Wine and China: A Tourism Perspective. London: Routledge (ISBN: 978-1-13-873225-4)

Go Your Own WA: Recovery and regeneration for the tourism industry in Western Australia

Response measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 virus led to border closures and massive disruptions to local, interstate and international travel. Prior to the pandemic WA’s tourism industry was on a pathway of growth. Based on unique natural endowments, in 2018-19 the sector contributed $12bn in gross value added terms (GVA) to the WA economy and employed almost 67,000 people. The contribution of tourism to the state economy naturally declined during the pandemic. In 2020-21 the GVA contribution of tourism in WA fell to $6.7Bn, 45 per cent below peak levels. However, recent arrivals and expenditure trends from tourists to the state suggest that a recovery is well on its way.
Overall, visitor spending has increased significantly across Destination Perth and Regional WA since the borders opened in March 2022. While regional WA saw mixed trajectories, in general there has been a steady decline in the 2022-2019 gap in short-term international visitor arrivals over the course of 2022. However, global uncertainties remain, and the speed at which international borders have been reopening globally continues to impact the state.

In order to get insights into the residents’ perception of tourism in their region, the Tourism Resident Survey asked residents across all five regions in WA a series of questions relating to how they perceived the impact of tourism on their region. The items were collated and categorised into four main domains. Two of these domains relate to the perceived positive impacts of tourism (economic benefits and impact on local amenities) with two domains relating to the perceived negative impacts of tourism (negative amenities; and housing and cost impacts). Prepared by the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC) in collaboration with the Tourism Research Cluster (TRC) at Curtin University, this report, the 7th in the BCEC Focus on Industry report series examines the dynamics of the tourism industry.

TRC Researcher: Clayton Dias and Dr Michael Volgger

Download report [PDF, 8mb]

Health care systems, health policies and medical tourism

This study is based on the analysis of four countries, Germany, Australia, Italy and Poland, that represent different types of health care systems regarding their service provision, financing and regulation. The four-country comparative analysis focuses on two key drivers of outbound medical tourism, long waiting lists for elective surgeries and significant out of pocket expenses for certain health care services and procedures. It is argued that the respective adopted approach to health care governance has led to distinct landscapes of medical tourism. The study makes a contribution to the discussion on the interplay of health care systems, health policies and medical tourism, highlighting the dynamics and complexities experienced in different destination contexts.

TRC Researchers: Professor Christof Pforr, Dr Michael Volgger
Other researchers: A/Prof Connie Locher (University of Western Australia), Dr Anna Białk-Wolf (Academy of Tourism and Hotel Management Gdansk, Poland)

Hospitality research: Sharing economy

Co-editing a special issue in the International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management (Editor-in-Chief, Professor Fevzi Okumus)

With the global economic downturn and increasing trust of the Internet and online payments, there has been a major shift towards sharing and collaborative consumption. Start-ups such as Airbnb, Carpooling, Uber and Lyft benefit from the opportunities presented by the sharing and collaborative consumption. These new developments have serious implications for hoteliers, restaurant owners, airlines and car rental companies, tour operators and destination marketers. They change the ‘rules of the game’ in the hospitality and tourism industries. Given these developments as ‘game changers’, this special issue invites papers to advance hospitality and tourism researchers’ as well as practitioners’ understanding of how sharing and collaborative consumption affect the future of the hospitality and tourism industry.

TRC Researchers: A/Prof Haywantee Rumi Ramkissoon
Other researchers: Professor Levent Altinay (Oxford Brookes University, UK), Jingyan Liu (Sun Yat-Sen University, People’s Republic of China)

Information Search Behaviour

There is growing interest from researchers and hospitality providers to understand how consumers look for various products and services provided by the hospitality industry. With consumers using different media technologies, hospitality providers are now accelerating the flow of information across different channels of communication. This study explores significant gaps on the role of online media.

TRC Researchers: A/Prof Haywantee Rumi Ramkissoon, Adjunct Prof Dogan Gursoy

Investigating travel patterns of Chinese tourists using volunteered geographical information in regional Western Australia

The aim of this project is to derive a set of reliable itineraries of Chinese tourists in Western Australia (WA) by taking advantage of information available on the Internet, in order to provide consumer and market insights and the potential for tourism industry management. Volunteered geographical information (VGI) and tourists’ trip diary surveys will be used to identify the travel information of Chinese tourists and evaluate the performance of tourism cross WA region. The project will then identify and map the popular travel patterns and construct reliable travel itineraries using Geographic Information System (GIS) and Markov/semi-Markov chain methods. Data mining methods will be also used to characterise the popular travel itineraries. Finally, a series of travel itineraries and their corresponding target markets will be proposed to the WA tourism sectors for promoting WA tourist products to Chinese tourist markets.

TRC Researchers: Professor Kirsten Holmes, A/Prof Cecilia Xia
Other researchers: Dr Torsten Reiners
Funding: Curtin Bank West Economic Research Centre grant, $65,000

Learning the Traditional Arts and Crafts of Malaysia

A project with the Malaysian History and Heritage Club on intentions to participate in learning traditional arts and crafts. This research project aims at examining residents as well as local and international tourist perceptions of their role in the preservation of heritage at a travel destination. For residents, this may involve participation in grassroots movements pushing for the sustainable development of heritage sites and supporting efforts in preserving traditional arts and crafts. For tourists, local and international, their demand for a more authentic experience may reduce the over-commercialisation of heritage development sites. Essentially, this study investigates the impacts of attitude toward heritage preservation, subjective norms, and perceived behavioural control on intention to participate in heritage preservation initiatives.

TRC Researchers: Dr Sean Lee
Other researchers: Ms Melissa Chan (Curator of Baba and Nyonya Heritage Museum), Mr Bert Tan (President of Malaysian History and Heritage Club)
Funding: Malaysian History and Heritage Club and Baba and Nyonya Heritage Museum

Measuring place attachment relative to competing locations

Due to its perceived importance in driving visitation and other psychological benefits, understanding place attachment is seen as critical for organisations who are mandated to present cultural and natural landscapes to the public. The main aim of this study is to investigate innovative methods for measuring place attachment and its relationship to satisfaction and loyalty to recreational areas with both recreational value and protection of the natural environment.

TRC Researchers: A/Prof Haywantee Rumi Ramkissoon, Professor Ross Taplin

Novelty effects on tourists compared to authenticity

This stream of research aims at further clarifying the impact authenticity perceptions have on tourist evaluations of tourism products. An initial study on South Korean cosmetics revealed that unfamiliar tourists were motivated more by perceived product novelty instead of the authenticity promoted by the producer. In fact, it was surmised that unfamiliar tourists confused novelty with authenticity. This questions the assertion that modern tourists are increasingly driven by authenticity-seeking motivations and instead suggests that authenticity serves as a surrogate for novelty. More research is therefore required to examine the potential confounding role of novelty in authenticity perceptions.

TRC Researchers: Dr Sean Lee, Dr Michael Volgger

Place attachment and quality-of-life

Empirical work documenting the nexus between humans and nature reveal that emotions play a fundamental part in generating health and well-being. People develop emotional ties and give special meanings to nature-based settings, emphasising the symbiotic relationship between tourism and the environment. This study aims to contribute to the advancement of place attachment and quality-of-life research in tourism by examining complex relationships among the antecedents to quality-of-life.

TRC Researcher: A/Prof Haywantee Ramkissoon, Professor Muzaffer Uysal
Other researchers: Professor Felix Mavondo (Monash University, Australia)

Protective behaviour at cultural heritage sites

Heritage sites are often fragile, their features of uniqueness and authenticity, and their link with local identities require a balance between their protection for being transferred to future generations and their enhancement for providing mindful and engaging experiences to visitors. Visitors’ understanding and appreciation of heritage deriving from their experience at heritage sites can result in heightened support for preservation of the heritage resources with a range of implications for sustainable tourism. This implies that experience is a pivotal concept for understanding many facets of heritage tourism. Experiences of tourists also play a key role in influencing their attachment to the visited place and their future behaviour including pro-environmental behaviour. This study is an attempt to better understand the active relationship between the visitor and the place visited and its potential influences on sustainable consumption of heritage resources.

TRC Researchers: A/Prof Haywantee Rumi Ramkissoon
Other researchers: Dr Piera Buonincongtri, Alessandra Marasco (IRISS-National Research Council of Italy)
Funding: Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research

South-west for Asia: Promoting tourism product development in Australia’s south-west tourism region for Asian markets

Innovative products, including those related to the sharing economy, are crucial in increasing attractiveness and competitiveness of tourism destinations and businesses. The need for authenticity goes without saying, but to match and satisfy customer needs in international tourism, it is seemingly necessary to partially tailor innovative products to markets. By better understanding practices of ‘novelty mitigation’ in a cross-cultural context, this project aims to improve the acceptance and satisfaction of Asian visitors with tourism products and services offered in Australia’s south-west. Suggestions for customising products specifically for Asian market segments will be developed.

TRC Researchers: Dr Michael Volgger, Professor Christof Pforr
Funding: Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre, Southwest Development Commission, Australia’s Southwest Inc.

Special interest tourism: Current issues and prospects

Special interest tourism (SIT) has evolved from a niche tourism phenomenon to a generalised practice. Eco-tourism, heritage tourism cycling tourism and many other variants of SIT have gone mainstream and have hybridised at the same time. This project tracks the evolution of the concept and investigates whether and how special interest tourism requires specific treatment in terms of demand and supply.

TRC Researchers: Professor Christof Pforr, Dr Michael Volgger
Other researchers: Professor Ross Dowling (Edith Cowan University, Australia)

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The efficacy of using oral storytelling to record the histories of minority cultures

This is a project with the Baba and Nyonya Heritage Museum to investigate the efficacy of using oral storytelling to record the histories of minority cultures as well as to promote these cultures. This project examines the efficacy of using oral storytelling to record the histories of minority cultures as well as to promote these cultures. Initially, a purpose-built digital storytelling website where oral stories are uploaded, archived and shared with the local, national and global communities is developed. Interviews with Peranakans in Malacca and Malaysia to compile and preserve their oral stories on the digital storytelling website’s database will be carried out. Finally, psychophysiological market-testing assessing the website’s effectiveness in promoting and attracting international tourists. The project aims at demonstrating the sustainability and cost-effectiveness of using a digital storytelling website as a means for preserving and promoting the histories of minority cultures to potential tourist as well as serving as an archiving device for historical and cultural research.

TRC Researchers: Dr Sean Lee
Other researchers: Ms Melissa Chan (Curator of Baba and Nyonya Heritage Museum)

The evolution of governance in mountain resorts

The aim of the present study is to examine transformations of resort governance through various stages of destination development. Under the increasing global influence of neoliberalism in the past few decades there has often been a tendency in tourism, as in many other fields, to replace old forms of more bureaucratic and centralised policy-making with new forms of interactive governance based on collaboration and partnerships. In this project, we compare the evolution of governance processes in selected mountain resorts in three countries; Åre, Sweden; Whistler, Canada; and, Dolomiti Superski, Italy.

TRC Researchers: Dr Michael Volgger, Professor Harald Pechlaner
Other researchers: Dr Sara Nordin (ETOUR/University of Uppsala, Sweden), Professor Alison Gill (Simon Fraser University, Canada)

The impact of Urban Indigeneity: A comparative analysis of Perth, Beersheba and Pohkara

This project investigates the nature and impact of a growing, yet under-researched, phenomenon of indigenous (re)urbanisation. It generates datasets on three modern cities each situated in a region which retains a traditional indigenous population (Perth, Australia; Beersheba, Israel; and Pokhara, Nepal) but which are now largely populated by settler/immigrant groups (including less local indigenous groups) in order to take analysis of urban indigenous issues from a descriptive to an analytic mode. The similarities and differences between indigenous groups in different urban and national contexts are little understood. The project seeks to understand urban presence and movement of indigenous people primarily through: land claims and ownership (through families and language groups); heritage and historical/cultural connections and claims; housing; and self-government and indigenous organisations.

TRC Researchers: Dr Tod Jones
Funding: RUSSIC, Curtin University

The wellness tourism industry in Namibia

The project will examine the wellness tourism industry in Namibia in the context of the broader debates on the development, management and success of wellness tourism destinations. This applied research in collaboration with industry groups and government organisations seeks to better understand the way in which wellness tourism destinations develop and to explore the specific constituents of destination competitiveness.

TRC Researchers: Professor Christof Pforr, Dr Michael Volgger
Other researchers: Ellen Kimaro and Jona Heita (University of Namibia); A/Prof Connie Locher (University of Western Australia)

Therapeutic landscapes, restorative environments, place attachment and well-being

This study introduces the concepts of therapeutic landscapes, restorative environments and place attachment and their relationships with well-being. It examines place-related challenges to health and well-being, including the changes over recent decades which have necessitated this renewed focus on therapeutic landscapes and restorative environment.

TRC Researchers: A/Prof Haywantee Rumi Ramkissoon
Other researchers: A/Prof Claire Henderson (Deakin University), Dr William Bird (CEO Intelligent Health, UK), Mathilda Van Den Bosch (Lund University, Sweden)

Tourism product development and the experience of remoteness

Several international tourism destinations promote themselves by promising an experience of remoteness. This holds for several places in Western Australia as well. A positioning around remoteness is vulnerable to both an under- and over-supply of services and amenities. By looking at the example of the Kimberley region and the Gibb River Road, this project analyses opportunities and limits of tourism product development in cases where the experiential proposition is “remoteness”.

TRC Researchers: Dr Michael Volgger, A/Prof Christof Pforr, Professor Harald Pechlaner

Tourist and hospitality consumers’ decision-making

With the increase in hospitality consumers focusing closely on sustainability practices of organisations, offering sustainability products that really add value is an important initiative for hospitality providers to emphasise on. Hospitality organisations’ image remains an important factor influencing decision making of the more ecologically conscious consumer. This study sets out to review customer decision making in the hospitality sector.

TRC Researchers: A/Prof Haywantee Rumi Ramkissoon; Adjunct Prof Dogan Gursoy

Transformation of destination leadership networks

Within a new funding and governance landscape, pooling knowledge and resources has become a fundamental prerequisite to ensuring the long-term sustainability of often financially-constrained Destination Management Organisations (DMOs). DMOs face challenges to deliver value to their destinations and member organisations. This study explores Distributed Leadership (DL), a recently adapted paradigm to gain momentum in the domain of DMOs and destinations as a promising response to these challenges.

TRC Researcher: A/Prof Haywantee Ramkissoon
Other researchers: Dr Dean Hrstov (Bournemouth University, UK)

Wine tourism

With the growth in wine production, there has also been a significant interest in the study of wine tourism. Innovation, increasingly seen as an important element of sustainability is further explored in the wine tourism industry. Innovation is defined as being ‘the development or introduction of any new or significantly improved activity’ (OECD & Statistical Office of European Communities, 2005) undertaken by participants, and encompasses any products, processes and methods that may have been first developed by a particular organisation that have since been adopted by others (Hall & Baird, in press). This study aims at exploring wineries’ engagement in innovation and wine tourism across Australia, New Zealand, and Italy.

 TRC Researchers: A/Prof Haywantee Rumi Ramkissoon
Other researchers: Professor Michael Hall (University of Canterbury, New Zealand), Marcella de Martino (IRISS-CNR, Italy), Tim Baird (University of Canterbury, New Zealand)
Funding: IRISS-CNR, National Research Council of Italy