PHd Student Hyejin Park wins “Best Paper AWARD” at China Tourism Forum 2019-US
It has been a successful summer for the Eric Friedheim Tourism Institute! Hyejin Park (PhD student) was awarded “Best Paper Award” during the China Tourism Forum 2019-US (Temple University, Philadelphia, July 21-22) for a study analyzing the perceptions of destination image focused on South Korea’s KTO (Korea Tourism Organization) efforts toward Chinese travelers.
Hyejin developed the study as the final project of a Research Methods class in the Department of Tourism, Hospitality and Event Management (THEM) at the University of Florida (UF). Hyejin is a South Korean, born and raised in Seoul, and has previously worked with the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) and the Korea Culture and Tourism Institute (KCTI) assisting with research and tourism policy. For this project, she collaborated with two other graduate students in the department, Ying Qiu and Yun Liang, both from China. The trio’s interest in conducting the study originated from the Chinese government’s promise in 2018 to lift the ban and reestablish travel permits for Chinese tourist groups to visit South Korea, who had been banned since 2017 for political instabilities between the countries around the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), US-made anti-missile system. The ban caused a major deficit for the tourism industry in South Korea. During the crisis, and even more recently, no information providing insights or directions for Chinese tourists could be found on the official Korea Tourism Organization’s website. This gap in information caused a distortion in destination image perception, the focus of analysis in the study.
A content analysis was conducted between photos from the official KTO website and Mafengwo, a Chinese travel website where tourists share their own pictures, testimonials and experiences about a destination. From this analysis, the study examined the differences between the Chinese tourists’ perceptions and interests when sharing their trips and what the Korea Tourism Organization was using to market the destination. While the KTO primarily shared photos of nature, landscapes, historic buildings and people (in this order), the preferences of Chinese tourists were food, people, and nature, respectively.
Also presenting at the conference was Lijuan Su, another PhD student in the department (THEM). The topic of her oral presentation was “the spatial competition network of the top 5 economy chained hotels in Beijing,” which identified how hotel units affiliated to a specific brand compete within the same brand and with other hotels from other brands. Lijuan was also a reviewer as well as monitored a session titled “Tourism Economics.”
During the China Tourism Forum 2019-US the two students also met and interacted with a former UF THEM PhD student, Yoeong-Bae Cho, currently an assistant professor at the University of Macau.