Tourism Management

Economic Contributions of the St. Augustine Amphitheater in St. Johns County, Florida (2014)

The historic city of St. Augustine in St. Johns County, Florida, is a major tourism attraction in the southeast United States, which generates significant local spending and economic impacts. The St. Augustine Amphitheater, established in 1965, is a 4000-seat publicly owned venue that offers a variety of entertainment and community/cultural events during March through December each year, including 25-30 large concerts annually with nationally known musicians, and a weekly farmers market. The facility has an annual operating budget of about $5 million. The number of events and attendance has increased since a major ($9M) renovation of the amphitheater was completed in 2007. Approximately 150-200 temporary employees and vendors are employed for major events, and the facility also has a large number of volunteers who assist with events. Current information on numbers and types of visitors and their economic contributions was needed for local policy-makers and facility managers in order to make informed decisions in support of resource management and economic development. Some particular issues which were addressed included the types of visitors patronizing the amphitheater, willingness to pay for events, and what features of the facility are most attractive to visitors. This project was funded by the St. Augustine Amphitheater and led by Dr. Alan Hodges (Food and Resource Economics) with Dr. Svetlana Stepchenkova, Dr. Lori Pennington-Gray, and Dr. Michael Scicchitano (Florida Survey Research Center/Political Science).

Visit Gainesville Advertising Conversion Study (2013)

The purpose of this study was to ascertain the overall effectiveness and return on investment of Visit Gainesville/Alachua County Visitors and Convention Bureau’s (VG/ACVCB) promotional efforts to attract visitors to Gainesville/Alachua County, Florida. By a determination of the conversion rate of information inquirers to tourists to the county, Visit Gainesville was able to document a favorable return on investment for the expenditure of tax dollars. This study examined: 1) traveler characteristics, 2) information about traveler’s recent trip(s) to Gainesville/Alachua County (if applicable), and 3) marketing impacts of Visit Gainesville’s Visitors Guide, website, and social media accounts including Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. This project was led by Dr. Lori Pennington-Gray with support from her doctoral student, Ashley Schroeder. The project was funded by Visit Gainesville/Alachua County Visitors and Convention Bureau.

Perceived Effects and Impacts of Gaming in Florida: Tourism Industry Professionals & Consumer Perspectives (2013)

This purpose of this study was to examine perceived effects and impacts of gaming in Florida among tourism industry professionals and consumers. For industry professionals, there were three objectives: 1) To gauge the sentiments, perceptions and intentions of Florida tourism industry professionals toward the current gambling situation; 2) To examine industry responses toward potential changes in gambling opportunities within the State; and 3) To evaluate the related potential impacts of those changes on the State’s tourism industry. Data were collected from 195 tourism industry professionals. The analysis included results in both the aggregate and segment samples such as comparisons between respondents residing in each of the three regions (North, Central and South Florida), and between those who held a management/director role versus those who were line staff employees.

For consumers, the study examined attitudes, perceptions, and intentions toward the possible expansion of gambling in Florida, and the potential impact of expanded gambling on the state and its tourism industry. Respondents were asked to provide their opinion on: 1) Preferences for gambling in general and, specifically of expanded gambling; 2) The likelihood and type of participation in gambling activities; 3) Preferred gambling regulations; 4) Travel intentions toward the State and specific Florida destinations given the presence or absence of expanded gambling venues; and (5) Demography and gambling addiction characteristics given the presence or absence of expanded gaming opportunities in Florida. Respondents were 18 years and older and consisted of adults residing in Florida (n=1223); and in non-Florida States (n=1213). Data were collected via a 20-minute online survey. This project was conducted on behalf of the Florida Legislature and Spectrum Gaming Group (Linden, New Jersey), and was led by Dr. Greg Dunn and Dr. Lori Pennington-Gray with support from her doctoral student, Ashley Schroeder. To view the Florida Tourism Industry Gaming Study, click here. The full report is available at

Public Awareness and Education: Agritourism in Antigua and Barbuda (2012)

The Antigua and Barbuda Ministry of Tourism has committed itself to developing agritourism as a tourism attraction within the two island nations. The Ministry concluded that there is both need for awareness of and education on agritourism and how it can properly function in both Antigua and Barbuda. In response, a series of awareness seminars were conducted in Antigua on the following topics: 1) What is Agritourism?; 2) How to Partner to Grow Agritourism Products; 3) What is Packaging? How Do You Create Award Winning Packages in Agritourism?; 4) Why is Social Media Necessary for Promoting Your Agritourism Business?; 5) How to Create a Winning Website. This project resulted in familiarization tours for workers in the tourism industry, additional workshops and private consultations, training on Good Agriculture Practices (GAP), the development of an Agritourism Business Plan, and the creation of a Ministry of Tourism Agritourism Unit. This project was funded by Florida Association for Volunteer Action in the Caribbean and the Americas (FAVACA) and the Ministry of Tourism, Antigua and Barbuda. This project was led by Dr. Lori Pennington-Gray in conjunction with Jennifer Maynard (agritourism consultant for the Ministry of Tourism).

Capacity Building Partnership to Improve Tourism Education, Research, and Industry Outreach: University of Florida, USA and the State University of Nizhni Novgorod, Russian Federation (2010-2013)

Given the current influx of visitors as well as development of destinations and attractions in Russia, there has been limited number of institutions that have focused on tourism related curriculum. Overall, capacity building and institutional development in tourism education is a fundamental component for the vitality and sustainability of the industry in Russia. Therefore, the objective of this project was to create a synergistic partnership between the University of Florida (UF) and the State University of Nizhni Novgorod (UNN) to strengthen tourism education, training, research and industry outreach. More specifically, the project will engage in tourism degree curriculum development, faculty and student exchange mobility program, language skills development, experiential education and service learning projects. In addition, to engage in collaborative research initiatives and participate in industry outreach via the proposed new Center for Tourism Management at UNN.

It is important to highlight that the partnership is mutually beneficial for UF and UNN. New curriculum development and online delivery were implemented at both institutions. Service learning projects and field trip for students from both countries strengthened their understanding of issues pertinent to tourism, hospitality, and destination management and also experience practical applications. Moreover, students improved their language skills and cultural understanding of the host country. During the faculty mobility program, UF and UNN team engaged to develop, share and partner in teaching methodologies, instructional materials, research initiatives as well as industry outreach activities. Also, it is expected that this partnership will continue beyond the completion of this project. This project was led by Dr. Svetlana Stepchenkova.

A Multilateral University Consortium to Strengthen Tourism Education, Research, and Industry Outreach: University of Florida, USA; Dokuz Eylul, Turkey; Armenian State University of Economics, Armenia (2010-2013)

The prospect to promote cultural understanding, mutual respect and peace via travel and tourism is a monumental opportunity to strengthen dialogue between Turkey and Armenia whose relations have been strained by a number of historical and political issues. Travel and tourism education and research partnerships between Turkey and Armenia can facilitate the normalization of relations between the two nations. This project proposed collaboration between academic institutions and the private sector in both countries that trained, educated, and brought together resources which relate to sustainable regional tourism development for both countries. The purpose of this project was to formulate a Multilateral University Consortium to Strength Tourism Education, Research and Industry Outreach. The partnership was led by the University of Florida, U.S. along with Dokuz Eylul University, Turkey, and Armenian State University of Economics, Armenia. The following activities were proposed to accomplish four major objectives: (1) Curriculum Development; (2) Research; (3) Industry Outreach; (4) Capacity Building. The project was funded by the United States Department of State-US Embassy in Turkey.