STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSE¢â‚¬â„¢S MOUTH ... STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSE¢â‚¬â„¢S MOUTH Looking back at nearly 10 years
STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSE¢â‚¬â„¢S MOUTH ... STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSE¢â‚¬â„¢S MOUTH Looking back at nearly 10 years
STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSE¢â‚¬â„¢S MOUTH ... STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSE¢â‚¬â„¢S MOUTH Looking back at nearly 10 years

STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSE¢â‚¬â„¢S MOUTH ... STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSE¢â‚¬â„¢S MOUTH Looking back at nearly 10 years

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    Looking back at nearly 10 years as Chair of the SmartState Center in Tourism & Economic Development, I can be very proud of our accomplishments. From the beginning, the whole SmartState concept was a unique and innovative one. In 2002, in order to stimulate a knowledge-based economy in South Carolina, the General Assembly appropriated $200 million from the South Carolina Education Lottery to establish new research centers in the state’s three big research institutions. As of 2018, over 70 world-renown researchers have been recruited to South Carolina, and the SmartState Program is responsible for helping to create and support about 15,000 jobs in South Carolina, which is associated with over $2.8 billion in economic activity. The state should be proud of such a successful and pioneering program – I know of nothing like it around the world.

    Our objective in the SmartState Center for Tourism has always been to conduct research that will assist the tourism industry in South Carolina, an industry that is responsible for over $21 billion a year, employing one in ten South Carolina residents. In the last nine years, we have partnered with numerous agencies to conduct research - from Chambers of Commerce, to DMOs, to private sector companies - and we have brought in over $650,000 in grants to fund this research – an average of about $75,000 per year: no mean feat in our field. In addition to many industry reports produced as an

    outcome of these grants, we have published dozens of quality journal articles from our research, and two members of the team have won prestigious Breakthrough Research Awards, presented each year by the Office of the Vice President for Research to recognize outstanding researchers and scholars at the University of South Carolina.

    As you will see from the contents of this newsletter, 2018 was another bumper year for the SmartState Center in Tourism & Economic Development. Despite losing a fine research associate (David Cardenas) to the clutches of administration, the team was extremely productive, generating many high quality research papers, receiving internationally prestigious awards, and winning a couple of sizeable grants. One of them, funded by the SC Department of Agriculture, was to look at the economic impact of the equine sector in the state (see page 2). What we found was that this sector generates a whopping $1.9 billion annually in South Carolina, and is responsible for 28,545 jobs. And that’s straight from the horse’s mouth!

    Simon Hudson



    SmartState Center of Economic Excellence in Tourism

    Spring 2019 Newsletter

    PG2 Funded Projects PG3 Publications and Awards PG4 Visiting Scholars, Keynote & our PhD Students

  • As mentioned on the opening page, we won a grant from the South Carolina Department of Agriculture to study the economic impact of the equine sector in South Carolina. Back in 2012, we conducted a comprehensive study for Aiken’s Chamber of Commerce looking at the feasibility for an international horse park in Aiken, and this helped us win this latest grant. A recent American Horse Council study found that industry in the U.S. as a whole is responsible for about $122 billion in economic impact and 1.74 million jobs on a full-time basis, that generate $79 billion in total salaries, wages, and benefits. How much of that is felt in South Carolina? That was the question sought to answer. What we found was that horses are a galloping industry in South Carolina in terms of economic impact. Our 73,600 horses in the state contribute to a total annual economic impact of $1.9 billion, supporting 28,545 jobs. These numbers are significantly higher than those produced in the last study of this nature conducted in 2004. The data from our study will be used to inform future policy and business decisions.

    SmartState Center of Economic Excellence in Tourism - Spring 2019

    Kevin So received a prestigious ‘Breakthrough Star Award’ from the University of South Carolina. These awards are given to early-career faculty who have made great strides in their research and scholarship at USC in a relatively short time.

    Kevin So’s article, “The role of customer engagement in building consumer loyalty to tourism brands” published in the Journal of Travel Research, with 6169 downloads from Jan 2017 to May 2018, was ranked the most downloaded article published in JTR.

    Kevin So received the University of South Carolina’s 2018 College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management Patricia G. Moody Researcher of the Year Award

    Kevin So and Simon Hudson’s article “Inside the sharing economy: Understanding consumer motivations behind the adoption of mobile applications”, published in the International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management won the 2018 Emerald Literati Awards: The Highly Commended Paper Award.

    Simon Hudson was voted as one of the world’s most ‘Awesome Scholars in Tourism’ by Women Academics in Tourism

    Publications In 2018, the Center’s team published a number of high quality articles in peer reviewed journals. One was written as a direct outcome of a funded project we profiled last year that looked at African-American tourism in South Carolina. The paper, called “Racial Discrimination in Tourism:

    The Case of African- American Travelers in South Carolina”, was accepted by Current Issues in Tourism. In the paper, we explore issues of racial acceptance in South Carolina two years after removal of the confederate flag from the

    state capitol grounds. The results show that racism ideology is restricting African-Americans’ mobility and accessibility to South Carolina’s tourism destinations, as it is in other parts of America. Although the image of South Carolina had improved after the removal of the flag, we that suggest there needs to be further collaboration with the African-American community and increased marketing effort promoting African-American heritage.

    Awards and Recognition

    For another paper, Kevin So and PhD student Somang Min received the 2018 W. Bradford Wiley Memorial Best Research Paper of the Year Award. This was for their article, “Motivations and constraints of Airbnb consumers: Findings from a mixed-methods approach”, published in Tourism Management. The award was presented at the 2018 ICHRIE conference in Palm Springs. In this paper, the authors investigated a comprehensive set of motivations and constraints of Airbnb consumers finding that for motivations, price value, enjoyment, and home benefits significantly explain overall attitude toward Airbnb. As for constraints, distrust is the only factor that significantly predicts overall attitude, while insecurity is directly related to behavioral intentions. Overall attitude, perceived behavioral control, and subjective norms, such as social influence and trend affinity, predict behavioral intentions. The study simultaneously examined the predictive power of both motivations and constraints of Airbnb consumers in explaining overall attitude and purchase behavior.

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    In 2018 we also won a grant from the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Foundation to study the effect of lodging tax increases on U.S. destinations. Lodging taxes are regularly increased, and it has been suggested that the tax burden - on top of high airfares and room rates – might be significant enough to make some travelers alter their plans, cut their stay short or seek out cheaper properties. But others propose that if the revenues from increased lodging taxes are spent wisely, they can actually result in a boost to tourism and economic development. This study looked in-depth at the sensitivity to lodging tax increases in eight different destinations. Data were collected in two ways. Firstly, members of the research team traveled to each destination to conduct in-depth interviews with various stakeholders in the sector. Then for each city the research team analyzed the ADR, occupancy levels, and RevPAR two years before the increase and two years after, and compared them with those of three competitors. Overall, our data did not fully support the hypothesis that when a city’s hotel tax greatly

    increases above that of a competitor, it will cause an economic loss to the city with the disproportionate tax rates. However, hotels in two of the eight destinations we examined may have been negatively impacted by the increase in lodging tax. Certainly many industry stakeholders are opposed to further increases in tax in their cities, although there is just as much concern as to how the lodging tax is spent rather than the actual rate itself.

    Increasing African-American Tourism in South Carolina

    A study by the SmartState Center of Economic Excellence in Tourism and Economic Development

    Fang Meng was voted to be an official fellow of International Association for China Tourism Studies.

    Kevin So received the Best Track Chair Award at the 2018 Global Marketing Conference in Tokyo Japan.

  • Jing Li is a fourth-year PhD candidate in the SmartState Center and is planning to complete her degree in August. Her research interests include lodging shared economy experience, impulse buying behavior and destination brand


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