Dunedin’s climate is not usually cited as one of the attractions of coming to the University of Otago, but it’s a plus for Tourism lecturer Dr Tianyu Ying.
After degrees in Tourism Management in southern China near Shanghai and a PhD in South Carolina, Tianyu admits to being “sick and tired of steamy hot summers” so he’s found Dunedin to be a refreshing change.
New Zealand’s reputation for having a beautiful natural environment was another good reason for making the move from the States, but the University was the key.
“My supervisor in the US recommended the tourism programme here at Otago because it has such a good reputation internationally.”
Tianyu also wanted to experience the great outdoors and the Kiwi lifestyle that he’d heard so much about.
“People do work hard here and are really productive, but they also enjoy a relatively laid back lifestyle compared with China and the US.
“I feel fortunate to be working in a department with such a nice group of people.”
Much of Tianyu’s research centres on tourism and social networking, as both companies and tourists are increasingly using social media to exchange information.
Companies use social media and information technology to market themselves, and potential tourists use the same channels to research destinations and activities.
“We’re also trying to understand how the tourists’ decision-making processes are affected by the way they use information technology.
“So far it’s looking to me as if people tend to trust personal information available on the net more than that supplied by commercial operations.”
Tianyu is also investigating how social network analysis can be applied to the study of tourism, and examining the development of sustainable tourism from a social perspective.
“Sustainability is not just about protecting the environment. We also need to look at socio-economic development strategies that get local communities involved and share the benefits.”