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Tourism Research

Consumer Behavior and Tourism Marketing
Travel can change a person’s life. As a result, understanding the decisions, activities and evaluations of visitors and how to effectively market high quality and sustainable travel and event experiences is one of the richest areas of tourism research. However, the combination of more specialized travel niches and the increasing role of technology in visitor decision making has changed the consumer behavior and tourism marketing research landscape. At Clemson University, the Travel and Tourism faculty work closely with domestic and international undergraduate and graduate students on theoretically-based and applied travel and tourism research addressing local and global problems faced by tourism and event entrepreneurs, non-profit organizations and destination managers from around world. Through the use of traditional and contemporary social science theories, travel behavior models, research methods and cutting-edge analytical tools, students explore, develop and implement tourism marketing and communication plans and strategies that meet the needs of both tourism and event guests and hosts.

Sustainable Community Tourism Planning and Development
Sustainable tourism, developed and managed correctly, can create opportunities and lasting benefits to the local communities and environments where it exists. Central to sustainable tourism development are the ideas of minimizing negative impacts - environmental, socio-cultural, and economic - while maximizing the positive effects of tourism. Successful sustainable tourism development requires the involvement of local community stakeholders in the planning and decision-making process and a system for monitoring impacts. In doing so sustainable tourism can be a vehicle for economic development and poverty alleviation, foster community development and cultural authenticity, and promote environmental and wildlife conservation. Our teaching and research has focused on tourism planning here in South Carolina and the Southeast U.S., but has also transcended international borders with teaching and research related to community tourism planning and development conducted in East Africa, Central and South America, Europe, and the Caribbean.

Socio-Cultural Impacts of Tourism
Tourism directly impacts and influences the cultures and societies. Every year, over one billion travellers cross international borders for a variety of reasons: for business, to visit friends and family, and to experience the traditions and heritages of other people, while many other domestic tourists visit regions of their home country that are culturally different than their own. These cultural interactions can have lasting impacts – both positive and negative - on destinations and tourists alike. Our teaching and research in topical areas such as heritage tourism, tourism management, and sport tourism, and in regions such as East Africa, Western Europe, and North America, focuses on the many ways tourism impacts cultural values, traditions, and identity.  

Tourism and the Environment
Tourism is inextricably linked to the natural environment and impacts it both positively and negatively. Many destinations rely on the surrounding natural beauty or specific landscapes as the primary attraction, and the tourism industry is often walking a tightrope between conservation and development. While visitors and developers want accommodations and amenities close to attractions such as beaches and mountains, overdevelopment and inappropriate development cause a great amount of stress on the local ecosystems and can endanger the attractions themselves. While the negative environmental impacts of tourism receive more attention and are widespread, there are also examples of tourism being the catalyst for environmental conservation, for example tourism has played a major role in the development of state and national parks both domestically and internationally. Our teaching and research on the connection between tourism and the environment includes regional, domestic, and international examples and opportunities.