What is the relationship between well-being and tourism, locally and globally, and how can we enhance it? Otago Business School researchers are addressing these questions, leading global research on well-being for visitors, host communities and for tourism industry workers.
Heading the research is Business School Lecturer, Associate Professor Sebastian Filep, the lead editor of Tourist Experience and Fulfilment: Insights from Positive Psychology (Routledge, 2013), a co-author of Tourists, Tourism and the Good Life (Routledge, 2011) as well as a co-author of an eBook, called "Vacation Rules – a guide to travel happiness". Vacation Rules is a set of fundamental principles that guide decision-making for tourists to get the most from their visitor experiences.
Tourism is undoubtedly a significant global phenomenal; in 2012 there were over 1 billion traveller movements. Each decision those travellers make has an impact on the community, the industry and the global environment, but also at an individual level. Tourism is not just a leisure industry, vacations are important to re-charge and set goals - to build individual mental well-being.
Understanding the factors that support human well-being is not solely the work of psychologists, but is now increasingly important across research disciplines, particularly in marketing and management.
What we are doing
The Otago Business School research aims to take understanding of consumer behaviour in the tourism industry to a much deeper level than just knowing where visitors go and how much they spend.
It is developing a framework for positive tourism that centres on understanding well-being, starting with the individual traveller. This will also guide the tourism industry in gearing their service to meet the well-being needs.
Assoc. Prof Filep is also keen to broaden his research to further investigate host community well-being, as well as strategies that foster well-being of workers in larger tourism organisations and small and medium sized enterprises. The goal is that, ultimately a greater focus on human well-being will inform overall tourism policy making.