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Doctoral research abstract

Hannah ParsonsWhile pilgrimage and religious tourism have long attracted academic interest, spiritual tourism research is still largely in its infancy. Contemporary tourists are increasingly seeking personal development and transformation through spiritual, or mystical and divine, tourist experiences. Spiritual tourists are a distinct set of tourists in that they are directly motivated by the possibility of self-discovery or change; travel with the intention of facilitating spiritual growth and embarking on a self-conscious project of spiritual betterment. Indeed, spiritual tourism has been called a ‘reflexive well-being intervention,’ (Norman & Pokorny, 2017). There is evidence that some tourists look to their guide to facilitate or support their personal inner journey towards self-development, though this remains largely unexplored (Weiler and Black, 2015).

Drawing upon theories of co-creation, optimal experience, and rooted in humanistic psychology, this exploratory qualitative research seeks a deeper understanding of the (co)creation of tourists’ meaningful and transformative experiences within the context of a spiritual group package tour. The study aims to identify factors contributing to and detracting from optimal co-created spiritual tourism experiences based on empirical in-depth interviews with spiritual travellers, tour guides, and Autoethnographic field work.

Education

Master of Science in Heritage and Cultural Tourism Management, with distinction. Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh, United Kingdom, 2016.
Bachelor of Arts, double major, in International Communications, and Comparative Literary & Cultural Studies. Franklin University Switzerland, Lugano, Switzerland, 2010.

Scholarships & Awards

The University of Otago Business School Best Tutor Award (2019)
Recognition of teaching excellence in undergraduate tourism papers.

Fanny Evans Postgraduate Scholarship for Women (PhD) (2018 – Current)
University of Otago, $27,000 per year plus tuition fee waiver. Awarded for duration of PhD study in Dec. 2018.

Summer Research Scholarship (2018/2019)
University of Otago, $4000 award. Research project on tourism development in Queenstown for the World Tourism Forum Lucerne, Switzerland, 2019.

Distinction in MSc Program (2015-2016)
Edinburgh Napier University, Cultural & Heritage Tourism Management, awarded based on academic excellence.
Academic Merit Scholarship (2006-2010)

Franklin University Switzerland, $15,000 per year, awarded based on academic achievement.

Primary research interests

Tour Guiding; Spiritual Tourism; Transformative Travel; Autoethnography; Peak Experience; Optimal Experience

Teaching experience

Tourism and Hospitality Fundamentals (907.501); Queenstown Resort College; 2020; Lecturer
Sales and Marketing (716.607); Queenstown Resort College; 2020; Lecturer
Interpreting Business Data (BSNS112); University of Otago, Dunedin; 2020; Tutor & Guest Lecturer
Tourism and Hospitality Enterprise Management (TOUR218); University of Otago, Dunedin; 2019; Tutor
Introduction to Tourism (TOUR101SS); University of Otago, Dunedin; 2019; Tutor
Introduction to Tourism  (TOUR101); University of Otago, Dunedin; 2019; Guest Lecturer & Tutor
Tourism Entrepreneurship & Business (TOUR416); University of Otago, Dunedin; 2019; Guest Lecturer
Advanced Tourism Concepts (TOUR423); University of Otago, Dunedin; 2019, 2020; Invited Methodology Lectures
Tourism and Hospitality Enterprise Management (TOUR218); University of Otago, Dunedin; 2018; Guest Lecturer
Tour Industry Fundamentals; International Tour Management Institute, San Francisco; 2013-2015; Lecturer (periodic)
Safety & Crisis Management; International Tour Management Institute, San Francisco; 2013-2015; Lecturer (periodic)
International Motorcoach, Cruise, & Air Operations; International Tour Management Institute, San Francisco; 2013-2015; Lecturer (periodic)
Domestic Motorcoach, Cruise, & Air Operations; International Tour Management Institute, San Francisco; 2013-2015; Lecturer (periodic) 
Psychology of Group Travel; International Tour Management Institute, San Francisco; 2013-2015; Lecturer (periodic)
Human Resource Management for Tour Operators; International Tour Management Institute, San Francisco; 2013-2015; Lecturer (periodic)
Local & City Sightseeing Logistics; International Tour Management Institute, San Francisco; 2013-2015; Lecturer (periodic)
Business Strategy for Tour Managers; International Tour Management Institute, San Francisco; 2013-2015; Lecturer (periodic)
Resume & Cover Letter Workshop; International Tour Management Institute, San Francisco; 2013- 2015 Lecturer (periodic)

Publications

Book Chapters

Parsons, H., Houge Mackenzie, S., Filep, S. & Brymer, E. (2019). Subjective well-being and leisure. In W. Leal Filho, T., Wall, A. Marisa Azul, L. Brandli, & P. Gökcin Özuyar (Eds.), Encyclopedia of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, Good Health and Well-being, World Sustainability Series, Cham, Switzerland: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-69627-0_8-1.

Peer-reviewed Publications

Parsons, H., Houge Mackenzie, S., & Filep, S. (2020). New perspectives on tour guiding: Mediating spiritual tourist experiences. In: Williamson D, Harkison T, Brothers T, Jose P (Eds). CAUTHE 2020: 20:20 Vision: New Perspectives on the diversity of Hospitality, Tourism and Events. 2020. Auckland, New Zealand: Auckland University of Technology, 470-472. ISBN 978-0-473-50923-1 [pdf]
Parsons, H., Houge Mackenzie, S., & Filep, S. (2019). Facilitating self-development: How tour guides broker spiritual tourist experiences. Tourism Recreation Research. 44(2), 141-152. doi: 10.1080/02508281.2019.1582159

Professional Articles, Research Reports

Albrecht, J., Houge Mackenzie, S., & Parsons, H. (2019). Measuring overtourism: A Queenstown case study. Research report for the World Tourism Forum (pp. 1-39). Lucerne, Switzerland.* *Commissioned research report for global tourism agency investigating overtourism measurement strategies in 15 nations.

Parsons, H., Houge Mackenzie, S., & Filep, S. (2019, December). Facilitating self-development: How tour guides broker spiritual tourist experiences. Paper presented at the 14th Australia and New Zealand Association for Leisure Studies Conference, Queenstown, New Zealand.

Presentations

Parsons, H. (2019, December). Facilitating self-development: How tour guides broker spiritual tourist experiences. Paper presented at the 14th Australia and New Zealand Association for Leisure Studies (ANZALS) Conference, Queenstown, New Zealand.

Parsons, H. (2020, February). New perspectives on tour guiding: Mediating spiritual tourist experiences. Paper presented at the 30th Council for Australasian Tourism and Hospitality Education (CAUTHE) Conference, Auckland, Queenstown.

Professional memberships

NZAPP (New Zealand Association of Positive Psychology) 2020-Pres
ANZALS (Australia & New Zealand Association for Leisure Studies) 2019-Pres
CAUTHE (Council for Australasian Tourism and Hospitality Education) 2019-Pres
GWNZ (Graduate Women New Zealand) 2019-Pres
CODeL (Collaborative On-Demand Learning) 2018-Pres
ITMI (International Tour Management Institute) 2011-Pres

Industry experience

Rhyme & Reason Brewery (New Zealand) 2017-2018
Duty Manager
Responsibly for overseeing daily operations, human resource management, sales, marketing, customer service & educational beer tastings.

Rippon Vineyard & Winery (New Zealand) 2016 - 2017
Cellar Door Host & Event Coordinator
Responsible for facilitating memorable guest experience, providing in-depth wine tastings, sales, exceptional customer service, administrative duties, and organizing and managing events (up to 200 guests).

San Francisco Comprehensive Tours (USA) 2014-2015
Lead Guide & Operations Management
Lead hiking guide with additional responsibilities in operations management, itinerary design, sales & marketing. Designed, promoted and launched hiking tour of California Redwoods. Additional itineraries included Napa Valley & Sonoma Wine Regions, San Francisco City, and California coast multi-day trips.

International Tour Management Institute (USA) 2013-2014
Personal Assistant to the President
Personal assistant to the President and CFO of the International Tour Management Institute – highly varied role across a range of key operations for a tour management business and higher education institution. Responsible for scheduling, administration, student admissions paperwork, front-of-office communications (phone, email, face-to-face); organized traveling classroom logistics, and delivered lectures.

Contiki Vacations (USA & Canada) 2011-2013
Tour Manager
Responsible for all tour organization (average 40-52 pax, 2-4 weeks, 8-10 tours seasonally) including accommodations, ticketing, distributors, suppliers, destination knowledge, socio-political/geographic/topical education and interpretation, memorable client experiences, extensive safety & crisis management. Compiled detailed tour reports including invoicing and analysis, responsible for client evaluations, incident reporting & budgeting.

International Tour Management Institute (USA) 2010-2011
Marketing & Event Operations
Responsible for planning, organizing, promotions, social media marketing, and operations for the annual ITMI Symposium (average 500 guests, 5-day conference event). Managed alumni outreach programs and social media coordination, generated web content, and conducted international interviews with European Candidates.