Senior Lecturer Dr. Dawn Gibson and postgraduate student Nemani Tebana.
A recent research colloquium at The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) School of Tourism and Hospitality Management (STHM) brought together cross-School and Faculty members, as well as industry representatives to discuss two ongoing postgraduate research projects.
Postgraduate student, Mr Nemani Tebana, whose interest in tourism and hospitality management started when he managed a small motel on Tarawa, Kiribati, was the first presenter. Mr. Tebana was a board member of the Kiribati Tourism Board, as well as Tourism Director for the Kiribati Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
In his research he investigated the travel behaviour of Pacific islanders based on a mixed-methods approach. Mr. Tebana, in his presentation deployed Plog’s model of allocentricity and psychocentricity, developed in the field of psychology to compare and analyse behaviours of Pacific Islanders in contrast to those of ‘Western’ tourists.
Dr. Alexander Trupp, STHM Postgraduate Programme leader stated after the presentation that tourism ceased to be a primarily Western phenomenon, thus it is important and timely to see the development of research projects that move beyond the Eurocentric bias and that explore neglected forms of tourist mobilities in the South Pacific region.
Dr. Dawn Gibson, Senior lecturer at STHM and supervisor of both presenters of the evening added ‘this is an interesting area of research, which will contribute to the limited knowledge on the mobility and travel behaviour of Pacific Islanders’.
The second presentation of the evening was conducted by Ms Lorissa Hazelman, an alumna of the STHM undergraduate programme and a former staff member of STHM.
Her presentation titled “Bridging the Gap between Graduate and Employer Expectations: A Case Study of USP's Tourism Graduates and Senior Hotel Managers” investigates the experience of USP graduates in the working environment in relation to entering employment, income, types of employment and career perspectives. It further examined the difference in expectations of selected senior hotel managers and graduates to inform institutions’ curricula for a better fit.
Results showed that the vast majority of STHM graduates find a job within six months and that their careers start within various occupational fields including the public sector, the tourism and hospitality industry or the civil society sector.
Dr Gibson concluded that ‘preliminary findings from this research show that changes in the tourism and hospitality programmes at STHM, especially the inclusion of internship courses, have substantially improved the employability of graduates’.
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