STHM Research Projects

Localised perceptions of tourism mobility and participation in the South Pacific Region (Project head: Marcus Stephenson, researchers: Dawn Gibson, Alexander Trupp)

This study will examine the following sub-themes:

  1. The examination of the socio-economic and cultural barriers of travel and tourism mobility of South Pacific communities, formulating a model of non-participation concerning travel and tourism activities.
  2. The construction of intersecting typologies of tourism participation, especially with respect to recreational travel, cultural travel (cultural events and celebrations), religious-based (and philanthropic) travel, the VFR (visiting friend and relatives) market and business travel.
  3. The comparative analysis of travel and tourism mobility as a tool to assess national well-being (& happiness) and conceptualizations of citizenship from the perspectives of communities in Fiji, Solomon Islands, Samoa and Cook Islands, and to provide actionable recommendations for improved wellbeing and happiness.

The contribution to the extension of theoretical applications concerning tourism mobility/immobility, tourism participation, wellbeing and citizenship, particularly in the context of countries that are traditionally conceived as tourist-receiving societies (rather than tourist-generating societies).

Evaluating the Socio-Cultural Challenges facing the Tourism Destination of Aitutaki (Cook Islands): An Ethnographic Appraisal (Project head: Marcus Stephenson)

The research study aims to provide an evaluation of the challenges and opportunities faced by a small state in relation to the socio-cultural impact of tourism from the perspectives of the local voices. The objectives are four fold:

  1. To employ a two-staged ethnographic appraisal of perceptions of socio-cultural impact in Aitutaki, allowing for an incremental and longitudinal assessment to take place.
  2. To examine ways in which the socio-cultural impacts are understood by different people within the community, from tourism stakeholders to non-stakeholders.
  3. To comprehend the societal and cultural structures inherent in within the everyday `life worlds` of individuals and communities resident in Aitutaki.
  4. To contribute to sociological and anthropological study of tourism, particularly within the context of the ethnographic study and the evaluation of small island, tourism destinations.

Tourism and Souvenir Micro-Businesses in the South Pacific (project head: Alexander Trupp)

This research examines the opportunities and constraints of tourism micro-entrepreneurs and analyses economic and socio-cultural impacts of souvenir businesses in Vanuatu and the Solomon islands. Tourism contributes a large share of economic growth and foreign exchange earnings. However, the positive multiplier effects for small-scale businesses and vendors are often limited by the ‘all-inclusive’ resorts or cruise as well as outside businesses. First, in order to analyse economic impacts on a local level, a value chain analysis will describe and assess the activities which are required to bring a product or a service from conception, production, transport, marketing and final delivery to the souvenir stand or shop.  Second, on a socio-cultural dimension, the research addresses the question whether and under which conditions the commodification of handicrafts has preservative or destructive effects. Third, in addition to identifying and assessing the supply side of souvenir micro-businesses a survey will evaluate the demand side, thus tourist’s perspectives and evaluation of the souvenir sector. Semi-structured interviews with micro-entrepreneurs, surveys with tourists and observations at markets will be conducted. Studying both the supply and demand side of the tourism souvenir business, this study can make recommendations to improve both visitor’s experience and micro-entrepreneur’s outcome.

Assessing the demand for local food in the tourism industry: A Fiji case study (project head: Dawn Gibson)

One of the most important areas in tourism is that of food production and consumption. Ironically however, despite the fact that all tourists eat, tourist food consumption has received little attention in the academic tourism literature.

Despite an abundance of locally produced foods and food products, in most South Pacific island nations, including Fiji, a large proportion of the food served in the tourism sector is imported. This has contributed to a high degree of economic leakage. Stakeholder consultation has suggested that there is interest in and support for increasing local cuisine in the Fiji tourism industry. This has also been reinforced by organisations such as the UN-FAO (Martyn, 2011), the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (2016) and the Fiji Islands Ministry of Agriculture (2014).One challenge to achieving this however has not been acknowledged, nor has this stakeholder group been included in the conversation – the food preferences of tourists in Fiji. This research therefore aims to address this gap by building upon nascent empirical research on food consumption in tourism undertaken in other countries.

Specifically, this proposed research will comprise a quantitative survey of tourist food preferences and motivations for local food consumption in tourism in Fiji. This will be complemented by in-depth semi-structured interviews.

The results of the research will contribute to the growing academic literature on food in tourism, as well as provide valuable information for the tourism industry in Fiji, and the greater South Pacific region. This addresses needs that have been identified by supra-governmental and regional organisations, and the tourism industry. As such, the research can contribute to future strategies addressing increased use of local foods in tourism.

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