Our projects

Ongoing research projects

Contemporary heritage movements in Asia

This project seeks to understand the role of activism in the transformations of heritage and its politics with a specific focus on the Asian continent. To this end, it draws on theories of social movements to discern various modes of engagement as well as the use of strategies, resources, material and emotional factors in forming activism in cultural heritage. Combining the knowledge gathered in heritage and in movements studies, the project seeks to develop methodologies for understanding heritage politics.

 Current and pending research outcomes: 

  • A Curtin International Visiting Fellowship is supporting the collaboration of Professor James Jasper from City University in the Asian Heritage Movements project.
  • A one day Masterclass in February 2015 at Curtin University on social movements led by Professor James Jasper and attended by 20 Curtin staff.
  • A co-authored paper by Professor James Jasper, Dr Tod Jones and Dr Ali Mozaffari.
  • An edited book titled Cultural Heritage Activism, Politics and Identity: Heritage Movements in Asia, edited by Ali Mozaffari and Tod Jones (under assessment for publication by National University of Singapore Press).
  • A panel at the June 2016 Critical Heritage Studies Conference in Montreal on Activism, Civil Society and Heritage, co-chaired by Al Mozaffari and Tod Jones.

TRC Researchers: Dr Tod Jones
Other researchers: Dr Ali Mozaffari

Cooperative resorts in tourism

Hotel resort development provides a sometimes criticised but repeatedly followed path towards efficient and effective tourism operations worldwide. However, a strong regimentation of quantitative hotel growth complicated such hotel resort development in the accommodation sector in the region of South Tyrol, Italy, and has prompted some hotel businesses to build alternative strategic alliances to realise economies of scale and scope. These can be regarded as “cooperative resorts,” and these alliances characteristically include the integration of spatially divided and legally autonomous hotels within destinations, which partially mimic traditional resorts. This project highlights the development of such an alliance, its corporate strategic approach and its relationship with the tourism destination network.

TRC Researchers: Dr Michael Volgger, Prof Harald Pechlaner
Other researchers: Sabine Pichler (Eurac Research, Italy), Dr Marcus Herntrei (Deggendorf Institute of Technology, Germany)

CSR in hospitality organisations

CSR is increasingly seen as an important business strategy. The key issue is that it relates to how the organisation is seen by various important stakeholders i.e. government, financial markets, customers, employees and a host of environmental enthusiasts in the local community. While at the heart of CSR is the ability to operate profitably, this must be achieved without sacrificing the environment, employees and the local community. CSR has benefits for corporate reputation and hotel branding, both of which could be sources of competitive advantage. These marketing implications have major implications in a competitive environment. CSR generates goodwill among key stakeholders and shield the organisation from criticism of sole focus on profit. Fortunately, in the medium term there is no trade-off between CSR and profitability especially if the starting point in its implementation, are managers and front line employees. It demands a change in attitude, constantly reinforced by senior management and made visible to customers and other key stakeholders. The investment needs not be too onerous as long as effective communication is undertaken. The process can be built over time starting with key priority areas that are of interest to the key stakeholders.

TRC Researchers: A/Prof Haywantee Rumi Ramkissoon; Adjunct Prof Dogan Gursoy
Other researchers: Prof Felix Mavondo (Monash University, Australia), Vishnee Payen (CSR Manager, LUX * Resorts & Hotels)


Demand-patterns regarding Airbnb in Australia and Germany

Airbnb is among the most prominent examples of peer-to-peer networks, which are strongly impacting on tourism. This novel form of accommodation provision may alter demand and supply structures in tourism destinations and has thus lead to concerns amongst established accommodation providers. In particular, it is questioned (1) whether Airbnb creates additional demand in a destination or whether it diverts business away from existing providers; and (2) whether Airbnb demand is linked to sustainable tourism behaviour.

TRC Researchers: Dr Michael Volgger, A/Prof Christof Pforr, Prof Ross Taplin
Other researchers: Dr Dirk Reiser (Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences), Steve Matthews (Tourism Research Australia, Australia), Dr Agnieszka Elzbieta Stawinoga (Eurac Research, Italy), Sophia Sänger (Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences, Germany)

Destination design: A new concept for the development of tourism destinations?

The transdisciplinary approach of destination design combines perspectives on destination management and governance with design theory and aesthetic considerations. Thereby, it advances discussions about service design into experience and atmospheric design, which are crucial for the development of tourism destinations.

TRC Researchers: Prof Harald Pechlaner, Dr Michael Volgger, A/Prof Christof Pforr
Other researchers: Greta Erschbamer (Eurac Research, Italy)

Destination leadership for quality improvement and competitiveness

Destination leadership is about motivating, encouraging and inspiring human actors by setting long-term values and directions. Compared to destination management, in destination leadership the human element as well as emotional factors gain in importance. A such, destination leadership is an important input factor for improving the quality of the tourism destination experience for visitors and residents alike. This project focuses on the definition of the relationship between quality management, destination competitiveness and destination leadership.

TRC Researchers: Prof Harald Pechlaner, Dr Michael Volgger
Other researchers: Prof Metin Kozak (Dokuz Eylul University, Turkey)

Exploring tourists’ (non)use of sustainability information in accommodation choices

The study explores how tourists compare accommodation offers that are both personally good (high egoistic value) and publicly deplorable (low altruistic value) with offers that perform well on both dimensions (“good/good” vs. “good/less bad”). In this context, the study investigates whether tourists consider information on altruistic value in accommodation choices and which type of information they give attention to: visual signals regarding aesthetic impact, contextual signals regarding accommodation type (hotels, farm holidays, camping, private accommodation), formal evidence such as labels and persuasion by introspective confrontation in a discussion of choices.

TRC Researchers: Dr Michael Volgger, A/Prof Christof Pforr, Prof Arch Woodside

Food, wine and China

This book specifically focuses on a growing demand for food and wine tourism experiences by Chinese visitors, which has become an important constituent of destination competitiveness in recent years. This topic will be explored from a demand as well as a specific destination response perspective. The aim of the book is two-fold: First, it seeks to better understand preferences, motivations and perceptions which drive food and wine consumption of Chinese tourists. Second, it also explores how food and wine tourism experiences have been used in a range of international destinations to specifically attract visitors from China focusing on the strategic directions adopted to guide destination development and marketing initiatives. Such a perspective provides a novel contribution to the still limited body of knowledge on China outbound tourism.

TRC Researchers: Christof Pforr (Co-Editor)
Other researchers: Ian Phau (Co-Editor)

Contributors are from New Zealand, Taiwan, China, Germany, Italy, UK, Malaysia and Australia:

  • Prof Michael Hall (University of Canterbury, New Zealand)
  • Prof Dai Bin (China Tourism Academy, China)
  • Dr Athena Mak (National Dong Hwa University, Taiwan)
  • Prof Richard Chang (National Dong Hwa University, Taiwan)
  • Dr Jo Fountain (Lincoln University, New Zealand)
  • Prof Wolfgang Georg Arlt (China Outbound Tourism Research Institute, Germany)
  • Prof Sam Huang (Edith Cowan University, Australia)
  • Prof Harald Pechlaner (University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt, Germany)
  • Dr Michael Volgger (Curtin University, Australia)
  • Dr David Lamb (Edith Cowan University, Australia)
  • Dr Alfred Olge (Edith Cowan University, Australia)
  • A/Prof Jane Ali-Knight (Edinburgh Napier University, UK)
  • A/Prof Vanessa Quintal (Curtin University, Australia)
  • Dr Ben Thomas (Curtin University, Australia)
  • Prof Ross Dowling (Edith Cowan University, Australia)
  • Dr Graham Ferguson (Curtin University, Australia)
  • Dr Isaac Cheah (Curtin University, Australia)
  • Dr Sean Lee (Curtin University, Australia)
  • Nazaruddin Haji Hamit (Curtin University, Sarawak, Malaysia)
  • Prof Piyush Sharma (Curtin University, Australia)
  • A/Prof Jeremy Galbreath (Curtin University, Australia)

Funding: Asia Business Centre
Further information: Pforr, C. & Phau, I. (2017) Food, Wine and China: A Tourism Perspective. London: Routledge (ISBN: 978-1-13-873225-4, forthcoming)

Health care systems, health policies and medical tourism

This study is based on the analysis of four countries, Germany, Australia, Italy and Poland, that represent different types of health care systems regarding their service provision, financing and regulation. The four-country comparative analysis focuses on two key drivers of outbound medical tourism, long waiting lists for elective surgeries and significant out of pocket expenses for certain health care services and procedures. It is argued that the respective adopted approach to health care governance has led to distinct landscapes of medical tourism. The study makes a contribution to the discussion on the interplay of health care systems, health policies and medical tourism, highlighting the dynamics and complexities experienced in different destination contexts.

TRC Researchers: A/Prof Christof Pforr, Dr Michael Volgger
Other researchers: A/Prof Connie Locher (University of Western Australia), Dr Anna Białk-Wolf (Academy of Tourism and Hotel Management Gdansk, Poland)

Hospitality research: Sharing economy

Co-editing a special issue in the International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management (Editor-in-Chief, Professor Fevzi Okumus)

With the global economic downturn and increasing trust of the Internet and online payments, there has been a major shift towards sharing and collaborative consumption. Start-ups such as Airbnb, Carpooling, Uber and Lyft benefit from the opportunities presented by the sharing and collaborative consumption. These new developments have serious implications for hoteliers, restaurant owners, airlines and car rental companies, tour operators and destination marketers. They change the ‘rules of the game’ in the hospitality and tourism industries. Given these developments as ‘game changers’, this special issue invites papers to advance hospitality and tourism researchers’ as well as practitioners’ understanding of how sharing and collaborative consumption affect the future of the hospitality and tourism industry.

TRC Researchers: A/Prof Haywantee Rumi Ramkissoon
Other researchers: Prof Levent Altinay (Oxford Brookes University, UK), Jingyan Liu (Sun Yat-Sen University, People’s Republic of China)

Information Search Behaviour

There is growing interest from researchers and hospitality providers to understand how consumers look for various products and services provided by the hospitality industry. With consumers using different media technologies, hospitality providers are now accelerating the flow of information across different channels of communication. This study explores significant gaps on the role of online media.

TRC Researchers: A/Prof Haywantee Rumi Ramkissoon, Adjunct Prof Dogan Gursoy

Investigating travel patterns of Chinese tourists using volunteered geographical information in regional Western Australia

The aim of this project is to derive a set of reliable itineraries of Chinese tourists in Western Australia (WA) by taking advantage of information available on the Internet, in order to provide consumer and market insights and the potential for tourism industry management. Volunteered geographical information (VGI) and tourists’ trip diary surveys will be used to identify the travel information of Chinese tourists and evaluate the performance of tourism cross WA region. The project will then identify and map the popular travel patterns and construct reliable travel itineraries using Geographic Information System (GIS) and Markov/semi-Markov chain methods. Data mining methods will be also used to characterise the popular travel itineraries. Finally, a series of travel itineraries and their corresponding target markets will be proposed to the WA tourism sectors for promoting WA tourist products to Chinese tourist markets.

TRC Researchers: A/Prof Kirsten Holmes, A/Prof Cecilia Xia
Other researchers: Dr Torsten Reiners
Funding: Curtin Bank West Economic Research Centre grant, $65,000

Learning the Traditional Arts and Crafts of Malaysia

A project with the Malaysian History and Heritage Club on intentions to participate in learning traditional arts and crafts. This research project aims at examining residents as well as local and international tourist perceptions of their role in the preservation of heritage at a travel destination. For residents, this may involve participation in grassroots movements pushing for the sustainable development of heritage sites and supporting efforts in preserving traditional arts and crafts. For tourists, local and international, their demand for a more authentic experience may reduce the over-commercialisation of heritage development sites. Essentially, this study investigates the impacts of attitude toward heritage preservation, subjective norms, and perceived behavioural control on intention to participate in heritage preservation initiatives.

TRC Researchers: Dr Sean Lee
Other researchers: Ms Melissa Chan (Curator of Baba and Nyonya Heritage Museum), Mr Bert Tan (President of Malaysian History and Heritage Club)
Funding: Malaysian History and Heritage Club and Baba and Nyonya Heritage Museum

Measuring place attachment relative to competing locations

Due to its perceived importance in driving visitation and other psychological benefits, understanding place attachment is seen as critical for organisations who are mandated to present cultural and natural landscapes to the public. The main aim of this study is to investigate innovative methods for measuring place attachment and its relationship to satisfaction and loyalty to recreational areas with both recreational value and protection of the natural environment.

TRC Researchers: A/Prof Haywantee Rumi Ramkissoon, Prof Ross Taplin

Novelty effects on tourists compared to authenticity

This stream of research aims at further clarifying the impact authenticity perceptions have on tourist evaluations of tourism products. An initial study on South Korean cosmetics revealed that unfamiliar tourists were motivated more by perceived product novelty instead of the authenticity promoted by the producer. In fact, it was surmised that unfamiliar tourists confused novelty with authenticity. This questions the assertion that modern tourists are increasingly driven by authenticity-seeking motivations and instead suggests that authenticity serves as a surrogate for novelty. More research is therefore required to examine the potential confounding role of novelty in authenticity perceptions.

TRC Researchers: Dr Sean Lee, Dr Michael Volgger

Place attachment and quality-of-life

Empirical work documenting the nexus between humans and nature reveal that emotions play a fundamental part in generating health and well-being. People develop emotional ties and give special meanings to nature-based settings, emphasising the symbiotic relationship between tourism and the environment. This study aims to contribute to the advancement of place attachment and quality-of-life research in tourism by examining complex relationships among the antecedents to quality-of-life.

TRC Researcher: A/Prof Haywantee Ramkissoon, Prof Muzaffer Uysal
Other researchers: Prof Felix Mavondo (Monash University, Australia)


Protective behaviour at cultural heritage sites

Heritage sites are often fragile, their features of uniqueness and authenticity, and their link with local identities require a balance between their protection for being transferred to future generations and their enhancement for providing mindful and engaging experiences to visitors. Visitors’ understanding and appreciation of heritage deriving from their experience at heritage sites can result in heightened support for preservation of the heritage resources with a range of implications for sustainable tourism. This implies that experience is a pivotal concept for understanding many facets of heritage tourism. Experiences of tourists also play a key role in influencing their attachment to the visited place and their future behaviour including pro-environmental behaviour. This study is an attempt to better understand the active relationship between the visitor and the place visited and its potential influences on sustainable consumption of heritage resources.

TRC Researchers: A/Prof Haywantee Rumi Ramkissoon
Other researchers: Dr Piera Buonincongtri, Alessandra Marasco (IRISS-National Research Council of Italy)
Funding: Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research

South-west for Asia: Promoting tourism product development in Australia’s south-west tourism region for Asian markets

Innovative products, including those related to the sharing economy, are crucial in increasing attractiveness and competitiveness of tourism destinations and businesses. The need for authenticity goes without saying, but to match and satisfy customer needs in international tourism, it is seemingly necessary to partially tailor innovative products to markets. By better understanding practices of ‘novelty mitigation’ in a cross-cultural context, this project aims to improve the acceptance and satisfaction of Asian visitors with tourism products and services offered in Australia’s south-west. Suggestions for customising products specifically for Asian market segments will be developed.

TRC Researchers: Dr Michael Volgger, A/Prof Christof Pforr
Funding: Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre, Southwest Development Commission, Australia’s Southwest Inc.

Special interest tourism: Current issues and prospects

Special interest tourism (SIT) has evolved from a niche tourism phenomenon to a generalised practice. Eco-tourism, heritage tourism cycling tourism and many other variants of SIT have gone mainstream and have hybridised at the same time. This project tracks the evolution of the concept and investigates whether and how special interest tourism requires specific treatment in terms of demand and supply.

TRC Researchers: A/Prof Christof Pforr, Dr Michael Volgger
Other researchers: Prof Ross Dowling (Edith Cowan University, Australia)

The efficacy of using oral storytelling to record the histories of minority cultures

This is a project with the Baba and Nyonya Heritage Museum to investigate the efficacy of using oral storytelling to record the histories of minority cultures as well as to promote these cultures. This project examines the efficacy of using oral storytelling to record the histories of minority cultures as well as to promote these cultures. Initially, a purpose-built digital storytelling website where oral stories are uploaded, archived and shared with the local, national and global communities is developed. Interviews with Peranakans in Malacca and Malaysia to compile and preserve their oral stories on the digital storytelling website’s database will be carried out. Finally, psychophysiological market-testing assessing the website’s effectiveness in promoting and attracting international tourists. The project aims at demonstrating the sustainability and cost-effectiveness of using a digital storytelling website as a means for preserving and promoting the histories of minority cultures to potential tourist as well as serving as an archiving device for historical and cultural research.

TRC Researchers: Dr Sean Lee
Other researchers: Ms Melissa Chan (Curator of Baba and Nyonya Heritage Museum)

The evolution of governance in mountain resorts

The aim of the present study is to examine transformations of resort governance through various stages of destination development. Under the increasing global influence of neoliberalism in the past few decades there has often been a tendency in tourism, as in many other fields, to replace old forms of more bureaucratic and centralised policy-making with new forms of interactive governance based on collaboration and partnerships. In this project, we compare the evolution of governance processes in selected mountain resorts in three countries; Åre, Sweden; Whistler, Canada; and, Dolomiti Superski, Italy.

TRC Researchers: Dr Michael Volgger, Prof Harald Pechlaner
Other researchers: Dr Sara Nordin (ETOUR/University of Uppsala, Sweden), Prof Alison Gill (Simon Fraser University, Canada)

The impact of Urban Indigeneity: A comparative analysis of Perth, Beersheba and Pohkara

This project investigates the nature and impact of a growing, yet under-researched, phenomenon of indigenous (re)urbanisation. It generates datasets on three modern cities each situated in a region which retains a traditional indigenous population (Perth, Australia; Beersheba, Israel; and Pokhara, Nepal) but which are now largely populated by settler/immigrant groups (including less local indigenous groups) in order to take analysis of urban indigenous issues from a descriptive to an analytic mode. The similarities and differences between indigenous groups in different urban and national contexts are little understood. The project seeks to understand urban presence and movement of indigenous people primarily through: land claims and ownership (through families and language groups); heritage and historical/cultural connections and claims; housing; and self-government and indigenous organisations.

TRC Researchers: Dr Tod Jones
Funding: RUSSIC, Curtin University

The wellness tourism industry in Namibia

The project will examine the wellness tourism industry in Namibia in the context of the broader debates on the development, management and success of wellness tourism destinations. This applied research in collaboration with industry groups and government organisations seeks to better understand the way in which wellness tourism destinations develop and to explore the specific constituents of destination competitiveness.

TRC Researchers: A/Prof Christof Pforr, Dr Michael Volgger
Other researchers: Ellen Kimaro and Jona Heita (University of Namibia); A/Prof Connie Locher (University of Western Australia)

Therapeutic landscapes, restorative environments, place attachment and well-being

This study introduces the concepts of therapeutic landscapes, restorative environments and place attachment and their relationships with well-being. It examines place-related challenges to health and well-being, including the changes over recent decades which have necessitated this renewed focus on therapeutic landscapes and restorative environment.

TRC Researchers: A/Prof Haywantee Rumi Ramkissoon
Other researchers: A/Prof Claire Henderson (Deakin University), Dr William Bird (CEO Intelligent Health, UK), Mathilda Van Den Bosch (Lund University, Sweden)

Tourism product development and the experience of remoteness

Several international tourism destinations promote themselves by promising an experience of remoteness. This holds for several places in Western Australia as well. A positioning around remoteness is vulnerable to both an under- and over-supply of services and amenities. By looking at the example of the Kimberley region and the Gibb River Road, this project analyses opportunities and limits of tourism product development in cases where the experiential proposition is “remoteness”.

TRC Researchers: Dr Michael Volgger, A/Prof Christof Pforr, Prof Harald Pechlaner

Tourist and hospitality consumers’ decision-making

With the increase in hospitality consumers focusing closely on sustainability practices of organisations, offering sustainability products that really add value is an important initiative for hospitality providers to emphasise on. Hospitality organisations’ image remains an important factor influencing decision making of the more ecologically conscious consumer. This study sets out to review customer decision making in the hospitality sector.

TRC Researchers: A/Prof Haywantee Rumi Ramkissoon; Adjunct Prof Dogan Gursoy

Transformation of destination leadership networks

Within a new funding and governance landscape, pooling knowledge and resources has become a fundamental prerequisite to ensuring the long-term sustainability of often financially-constrained Destination Management Organisations (DMOs). DMOs face challenges to deliver value to their destinations and member organisations. This study explores Distributed Leadership (DL), a recently adapted paradigm to gain momentum in the domain of DMOs and destinations as a promising response to these challenges.

TRC Researcher: A/Prof Haywantee Ramkissoon
Other researchers: Dr Dean Hrstov (Bournemouth University, UK)

Wine tourism

With the growth in wine production, there has also been a significant interest in the study of wine tourism. Innovation, increasingly seen as an important element of sustainability is further explored in the wine tourism industry. Innovation is defined as being ‘the development or introduction of any new or significantly improved activity’ (OECD & Statistical Office of European Communities, 2005) undertaken by participants, and encompasses any products, processes and methods that may have been first developed by a particular organisation that have since been adopted by others (Hall & Baird, in press). This study aims at exploring wineries’ engagement in innovation and wine tourism across Australia, New Zealand, and Italy.

 TRC Researchers: A/Prof Haywantee Rumi Ramkissoon
Other researchers: Prof Michael Hall (University of Canterbury, New Zealand), Marcella de Martino (IRISS-CNR, Italy), Tim Baird (University of Canterbury, New Zealand)
Funding: IRISS-CNR, National Research Council of Italy