Coastal and marine tourism constitutes approximately 50% of all global tourism and is a vital component of the economy of small islands and coastal communities. Image credit: Adobe Stock

UCF Hospitality Researchers’ Expertise Is Tapped for Global Sustainable Tourism Report

By: Robert H. Wells on

University of Central Florida hospitality researchers have co-authored an international report that identifies ways to ensure sustainable coastal and marine tourism around the globe.

These include a renewed focus on stimulating new high-quality economic opportunities for local communities, restoring the natural environment, and revitalizing cultural heritage and communities, the report states.

The work is being presented this week at the United Nations Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal, which world leaders are attending.

“The future of tourism post-pandemic is an issue of global importance, especially for those living in areas such as Florida that are tourist dependent,” says report co-author, Alan Fyall, associate dean and Visit Orlando Endowed Chair of Tourism Marketing with UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management.

“This report brings together a number of leading international experts to provide a future agenda for a more sustainable, regenerative, and resilient industry capable of transforming coastal and marine tourism long into the future,” he says. “The high-level presence of world leaders on the Ocean Panel, including President (Joe) Biden, highlights its significance and relevance to all ocean-based economies.”

Coastal and marine tourism constitutes approximately 50% of all global tourism, equal to $4.6 trillion or 5.2% of global gross domestic product, and is a vital component of the economy of small islands and coastal communities, the report states.

UCF researchers’ contributions to the report included a look at the future of tourism by identifying six trends that will impact the industry and the risks and opportunities they present.

These trends are:

  • Shifting demand and preferences as a result of travel restrictions from COVID-19, higher prices for travel, and more
  • Labor, such as alternative means to accommodate a reduced and more expensive labor force
  • Population growth and dispersion, including increased demand for tourist destinations
  • Climate change, including demands to reduce carbon emissions from travel and abandoning assets in areas affected by sea-level rise
  • Biodiversity and the loss of coastal ecosystems put the economic viability of many coastal and marine destinations directly at risk
  • Changing impact of technology on tourism, including greater amounts of data about tourists and the places they visit

UCF co-authors also included Assistant Professor Sergio Alvarez; Professor Robertico Croes, Associate Professor Jorge Ridderstaat, and postdoctoral researcher Maksim Godovykh, all with Rosen College of Hospitality Management. Godovykh has expertise in economics, behavioral economics, and management.

“UCF Rosen College is ranked No. 1 in the nation for its research output and No. 2 in the world,” Fyall says. “With our collaboration with colleagues in the UCF Coastal Cluster, we have a highly experienced and well-respected team that has both academic and practitioner experience, which is a crucial combination for a report of this nature.”

Alvarez says it was a great honor to have participated in the report, which was commissioned by the Ocean Panel and overseen by the global nonprofit, the World Resources Institute.

“When I was in high school, my interest in environmental issues was nourished by reading books and reports by the World Resources Institute,” Alvarez says. “So, it is a very special feeling to be a contributor to one of their reports, especially when the target audience is presidents and prime ministers from some of the leading coastal and ocean nations.”

Croes says the team was high-energy and passionate about improving sustainable practices worldwide.

“We were efficacious in delivering a concise and insightful document about coastal and marine tourism,” he says.

Fyall received his doctorate in destination management from Bournemouth University in England and joined UCF in 2012. He is a member of UCF’s National Center for Integrated Coastal Research and has published widely in the areas of tourism and destination marketing and management. His current research interests relate to tourism sustainability and resilience with a specific focus on the impacts of tourism on resident communities of tourist destinations.

Alvarez received his doctorate in food and resource economics from the University of Florida and joined UCF in 2018. He is a member of UCF’s National Center for Integrated Coastal Research and Sustainable Coastal Systems faculty research cluster. He has published articles on a range of topics, including the economics of marine resources, the costs and management of biological invasions, and the value of ecosystem services such as clean water and outdoor recreation. His current research includes estimating economic losses and impacts of Florida red tide. Between 2013 and 2018, Alvarez served as the chief economist at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Croes received his doctorate in applied economics from the University of Twente in the Netherlands and joined UCF in 2002. He has authored four books, issued more than 100 published works, contributed to more than twenty books, and released more than 30 industry reports. In his previous career, Croes was the minister of economic affairs and tourism and finance in Aruba.

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