Graduate Student Research Supporting Tourism Through the Pandemic

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A variety of produce on display at a farmers market

Colorful produce lines the booths at the NC State Farmers’ Market. Credit: Becky Kirkland

Sara Brune will be graduating with her Ph.D. in May of 2021. Her dissertation research was part of the Strengthening Local Food Systems through Children project with Drs. Carla Barbieri, Whitney Knollenberg and Kathryn Stevenson. Brune’s contribution to the project included developing an instrument to measure the impact of agritourism experiences on education and by measuring the influence of agritourism experiences on agritourists’ local food systems engagement.

Her dissertation expanded the knowledge about the benefits of agritourism revealing that agritourism experiences help educate the public and reconnect agricultural producers and consumers which motivates local food systems engagement. She has published two journal articles (one linked above and another linked here) and is currently developing an extension fact sheet that will be posted to the Tourism Extension website as soon as it is published.

Brune was awarded a Quick-Response grant in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 crisis entitled Family Farms’ Resilience and Challenges under COVID-19 Containment Measures in North Carolina. She worked with Dr. Knolleberg, Olivia Vila, and Dr. Danielle Lawson on this research project. This semester Brune will be working on producing several outputs from her research and finalizing her research projects.

Student, Professor posing in front of TTRA Southeast Chapter sign at conference

Posts and Knollenberg at TTRA Southeast Chapter in Feb 2020.

Hailey Posts is a second-year masters student anticipated to graduate in May 2021. She has been busy working on two research projects. Posts’ first project is with Wake County’s destination marketing organization the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau (GRCVB). In collaboration with GRCVB and Dr. Knollenberg, she is assessing stakeholder knowledge of tourism’s value and providing a baseline measure of their potential for engaging in tourism advocacy in Wake County. Research for this study is also going to be utilized for her thesis.

Posts is also contributing to a national tourism advocacy study with Dr. Knollenberg, Dr. Amanda Stewart (NC State Public Administration) and Dr. Ashley Schroeder. The project aims to identify how tourism organizations and associations engage in advocacy planning, the resources associations utilize when planning for advocacy efforts, and resources needed to improve their planning efforts. She is currently producing technical reports for both projects that will be shared on the Tourism Extension website when completed. She also has presented her research in 2020 at Southeastern Travel and Tourism Research Association (SETTRA) conference and the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA). This spring she will be wrapping up her reports, thesis and have a few more exciting updates for us to follow up on.

Half full beer glass from New Belgium Brewing

New Belgium Brewing Company beer from the tour in Asheville.

Claudia Gill-Arroyo is in her third year pursuing her PhD. She is currently working on two research projects, both with Dr. Whitney Knollenberg and Dr. Carla Barbieri. In the first of her projects, Gill-Arroyo will be applying the Destination Resources Acceleration Framework, developed in her previous research in Ica (Peru), which is a craft beverage destination. She’ll be applying a technique called Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique (ZMET) to examine the relationship between Ica’s destination image with the local craft beverage (i.e., pisco) from the perspective of supply stakeholders in Ica. This year she will be collecting data for this study.

Gil-Arroyo’s other project is examining the role of context in the image formation of Ica from the perspective of potential visitors from the US. She will use an online survey to measure changes in their willingness to visit and recommend Ica as a craft beverage destination by inducing knowledge about the destination and its beverage-related resources. She is also, currently collecting data on this project. The first piece of her dissertation research findings was published in the Annals of Tourism Research in 2020. This year she’ll be completing data collection in Peru for her dissertation. Gill-Arroyo is intrigued to learn about stakeholder’s views of tourism while conducting interviews in Ica.