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Doctoral Research Abstract

Reni Polus image 2020Travelling has been noted as an essential element of spiritual practices. Volunteer tourism, where people travel for deeper rather than merely hedonistic purposes, has become one of the tourism segments to embrace spiritual dimensions. Nevertheless, the search for spiritual fulfilment through travel is not a new phenomenon. Journeys due to religious fervour have been present since ancient times, especially in the form of pilgrimage. In the 21st century, the world seems to feel just as strongly about pilgrimage as it ever has, but the conceptualisation goes beyond religion, to emphasise a new dimension: spirituality. In contrast to the organised strictness of religion, spirituality reflects the individualistic search for meaning and connection with the world. Thus, this research aims to explore spirituality in the multi-phased international volunteer tourist’s lived experience using the concept of the spiritual journey and more specifically The Hero’s Journey as a metaphor to show the processes of deep psychological transformation. The research seeks to discover what international volunteer tourists understand by ‘spirituality’ and ‘spiritual experience’, and how they notice and make sense of spiritual moments or experiences when participating in international volunteer tourism. This research will focus on non-Western volunteers doing voluntary work in another non-Western country. Non-Western international volunteer tourism is strongly associated with Western-centric images. Accordingly, this research will not only provide a valuable and necessary counter to the dominant Western-centric perception of international volunteer tourism, but it will also provide new insights into the study of spirituality and tourism.

Education

Bachelor Degree in Tourism Management, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia
Master of Science in Tourism Planning, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia

Scholarships & Awards

Young Lecturer’s Scheme Scholarship, Universiti Teknologi MARA (2011)
University of Otago Doctoral Scholarship, University of Otago, New Zealand (2019)

Primary Research Interests

Heritage Tourism, Dark Tourism, Volunteer Tourism, Spiritual Experiences

Teaching Experience

Universiti Teknologi MARA, Sarawak Malaysia (2013 – Present, on study-leave)
Kinabalu Commercial College, Sabah Malaysia (2009-2011)

Teaching Assistant

Interpreting Business Data (BSNS 112), Semester 2 2020, Business School, University of Otago
Introduction to Tourism (TOUR 101), Semester 1 2020, Business School, University of Otago
Interpreting Business Data (BSNS 112), Semester 1 2020, Business School, University of Otago

Publications

Polus, R. C., Bidder, C. and Jones, T. E. (2016). Understanding Tourists' Motives and Sought Experiences at Sandakan Memorial Park Borneo, Asian Journal of Tourism Research, 1(1) 149-166.

Bidder, C., Polus, R. C., & Jones, T. E. (2017). So close yet so far: Economic accessibility of Mount Kinabalu. Journal of Tourism, Hospitality & Culinary Arts, 9(1), 11-26.

Polus, R. C., Jussem, P. M., & Chung, E. (2018). Job Satisfaction among Regional Specific Tourist Guides: Evidence from Malaysian Borneo. International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, 8(16), 103–121.

Conference Papers

Bidder, C., & Polus, R. C. (2014). Local Sabahans’ Satisfaction with Level of Access to Mount Kinabalu. SHS Web of Conferences, 12, 01091. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1051/shsconf/20141201091

Bidder, C., & Polus, R. C. (2014). Retaining Access to Key Tourist Assets for Local Residents: A Case of Mount Kinabalu. SHS Web of Conferences, 12, 01073. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1051/shsconf/20141201073

Bidder, C., Polus, R. C. and Jones, T. E. (2015), Ethnic Language and Tourism: A Case Study of the Kadazandusun Community in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, International Conference on Tourism and Ethnicity in ASEAN and Beyond 2015, Chiang Mai University, Thailand

Polus, R. C. and Bidder, C. (2016). Volunteer Tourists' Motivation and Satisfaction: A Case Study of Batu Puteh Village Kinabatangan Borneo, Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences, Elsevier, 224, 308-316

Bidder, C. and Polus, R. C. (2017). Wilderness Spirituality: Evidence from Borneo, 1st International Conference on Spirituality, Culture and Sustainable Tourism (SCST), Sabah. Malaysia.

Bidder, C. and Polus, R. C. (2017). Host Perceptions of Linguistic Impact of Tourism, 1st International Conference on Spirituality, Culture and Sustainable Tourism (SCST), Sabah. Malaysia.

Jones, T., Bui Huong, T., Bidder, C., and Polus, R. C. (2018). Climbers' Motivation and Awareness of World Heritage Listing: A Comparison of Mount Fuji and Mount Kinabalu. The Japanese Forest Society Congress.

Presentations

Bidder, C. and Polus, R. C. (2014). Local Sabahans' Satisfaction with Level of Access to Mount Kinabalu, 4th International Conference on Tourism Research (4ICTR), Sabah, Malaysia.

Bidder, C., Polus, R. C. and Jones, T. E. (2015). Economic Accessibility and Price Fairness of Mount Kinabalu, TTRA APAC 2015 Annual Conference, Meiji University, Japan.

Polus, R. C., Bidder, C. and Jones, T. E. (2015). Understanding Tourists' Motives and Sought Experiences at Sandakan Memorial Park Borneo, International Conference on Tourism and Ethnicity in ASEAN and Beyond 2015, Chiang Mai University, Thailand.

Polus, R. C. and Bidder, C. (2015). Volunteer Tourists' Motivation and Satisfaction: A Case Study of Batu Puteh Village Kinabatangan Borneo, The 6th International Research Symposium in Service Management (IRSSM-6), Sarawak. Malaysia.

Polus, R. C. and Bidder, C. (2017). Incorporating Indigenous Knowledge in Heritage Interpretation, International Conference on Spirituality, Culture and Sustainable Tourism (SCST), Sabah, Malaysia.

Polus, R. C., Jussem, P. M., & Chung, E. (2018). Job Satisfaction among Regional Specific Tourist Guides: Evidence from Malaysian Borneo, The 4th International Hospitality and Tourism Conference, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Professional Memberships

Sabah Tourist Guide Association (2009)

Industry Experience

Education and Examination officer, British Council Malaysia (2007-2008)
Nature Tourist Guide (Part-time) (2009-2011)