Tourism is vital to the economy of the South West.

University forges ahead with sport, leisure and tourism research

Following a recent award of £1.5 million from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the University of Exeter today announced the first six research projects to form part of the research cluster in Sport, Leisure and Tourism.

The cluster is the only one of its kind in this sector and affords businesses in the South West a unique opportunity to access the knowledge and expertise of University academics and PhD students.

Led by the Business School, the research projects involve academics from the School of Sport and Health Sciences, the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, the School of Psychology and the School of Geography. Partner organisations already involved include the Met Office and South West Water.

Environment and sustainability are a common component in the first six projects. People and organisations in the South West feature prominently in projects of national importance. For example, one of the projects is looking at how to effectively communicate climate change science to influence and change people’s travel choices and decisions. Dr Anna Rabinovich from the School of Psychology explained ‘There’s general agreement that more needs to be done to bring about behaviour change surrounding the effects of climate change. The focus on travel decisions is particularly important since these can have a serious impact on climate change and carbon emissions.’

The other five projects look at:

  • The impact of second home ownership on the development of sustainable communities, working with North Devon Council
  • Water use in visitor attractions and tourist accommodation and how this is likely to change in the future, particularly as a result of climate change, with South West Water
  • Whether the use of a social marketing approach may enhance and increase physical activity amongst school age children, in collaboration with HERDA South West’s Regional Education Legacy in Art and Youth Sport (RELAYS) project
  • The barriers and motivations around adoption of sustainable travel , in collaboration with the National Social Marketing Centre.
  • How current environmental capital valuation models could be used to assess the contribution of local natural capital to regional prosperity, working with Dorset County Council.

Professor Tim Coles, cluster director, commented ‘To be awarded the grant confirming the University as a centre of excellence in Sport, Leisure and Tourism research was something of a coup in the first place. Now the projects are coming through, it underlines our unique qualities in this area and proves we have something special to offer both regionally and nationally.’

Date: 26 August 2009