Browser does not support script.


Visitor Economy and Experience Research Group

This research group is led by Dr Brendan Paddison.

The Visitor Economy continues to be a key sector for growth worldwide and has special relevance for York and its hinterland as a popular tourist destination.

As well as generating substantial economic benefits, tourism raises important issues of sustainability and well-being that require careful management.

Research by the Visitor Economy and Experience Group offers important insights into the tourism experience, tourism education and mindful strategies. Our interventions contribute to the dynamic growth of this sector whist addressing key issues of sustainability.

Group members have a national and international reputation, with an extensive publication record. We also consult with a range of organisations in the development of the visitor economy and experience, tourism strategy and strategic planning.

Get in touch

We welcome applications from prospective PhD students who wish to research the Visitor Economy and particularly in the areas outlined above related to:

  • The Visitor Economy Experience
  • Visitor Economy Strategy
  • Visitor Economy Education
  • Destination Management

Research activity

The research group has addressed several important issues related to the visitor economy experience.

Dr Paddison has worked with colleagues at the University of Seville, to investigate the importance of emotions and experience quality on satisfaction (González-Rodríguez, M.R., Domínguez-Quintero, A.M. and Paddison, B. (2020)) and the closely related role of experience quality on authenticity and satisfaction in the context of cultural-heritage tourism (Domínguez-Quintero, A. M., González-Rodríguez, M.R. and Paddison, B. (2020)).

This work informed the development of a new visitor survey which evaluates the quality of experience and emotions on visitor satisfaction. Recommendations from our research have been used to inform strategic decision making in Seville, specifically the development of the Seville Post-COVID-19 recovery plan.

Professor Tribe has worked with colleagues to understand some of the negative effects of information technology, the internet and smartphones on the tourism experience (Tribe, J. and Mkono, M. (2017)), as well as investigating how Chinese backpacker groups organise and experience tourism (Cai, W., Cohen, S., and Tribe, J. (2018)).

Dr Hall has worked with co-researchers to understand the embodied, sensory and gendered experiences of tourism and adventure in extreme sporting environments (Avner, Z., Boocock, E., Allin, L. and Hall, J. (2021)). Her research has informed the development of national strategy for Mountain Training, United Kingdom and British Mountaineering Council) concerning female leadership in the outdoors (Hall, J., and Doran, A. (2020)).

It is common for most destinations to have a strategy to guide tourism development. We have a particular interest in developing mindful strategies that are designed to bring benefits to host communities over and above the expected economic ones.

Dr Paddison has set out a new approach to public management in tourism (Paddison, B. and Walmsley, A. (2018)) and together with Dr Biggins has advocated for the inclusion of community voices and interests in tourism planning and development (Paddison, B. and Biggins, R. (2017)).

Professor Tribe is the author of a book that offers an accessible practical yet critical guide for those charged with writing a tourism strategy (Tribe, J. (2016)).

At the local level Dr Paddison has established a long-term working relationship with Make It York (a UK tourism organization) as a member of the Visit York Visitor Economy steering group since 2016. In 2020, Dr Paddison was appointed Chair of the newly created York Tourism Advisory Board.

Research led by Dr Paddison has helped Make it York improve its consultation and engagement with its stakeholders, leading to significant improvement in strategic decision-making, substantial increases in visitor numbers, income from tourism and the creation of new jobs. Dr Paddison, Professor Tribe and Dr Hall continue to develop this research and are engaged in exploring new models of governance that will help reimagine a liveable city post COVID-19.

Dr Croft has explored authenticity in tourism strategy-making identifying the plurality of stakeholder voices as the embodiment of the authentic voice of strategy.

Dr Hall’s research explores gendered experiences in extreme sporting environments. Dr Hall is currently working on ‘restricted’ experiences of leisure in the digital world of Zwift and static cycling as result of COVID-19, in partnership with colleagues at Staffordshire University.

She is working with co-investigators at Northumbria University and the Outdoor Partnership Trust to understand the experiences and progression routes for young people from low socio-economic backgrounds accessing outdoor leadership opportunities.

Professor Tribe’s seminal article The Philosophic Practitioner (Tribe, J. (2002)) had a major influence in setting out not just how to improve professional practice in tourism but, more importantly, how to equip those working in tourism to take responsibility for the stewardship of tourism. Tourism faculties around the world have adapted their tourism courses to reflect these principles.

How does global education in the visitor economy compare with other university courses? Is it of a high quality? These are the questions addressed in an international study in which Professor Tribe participated (Airey, D, Tribe, J., Benckendorff, P. and H. Xiao (2014)). Recent research by Professor Tribe and colleagues has also helped to understand the informal learning that takes place in gap year travel (Johan, N., Sadler Smith, E and Tribe, J. (2018).

York St John University continues to promote cutting edge research on education for the visitor economy through its involvement with the Elsevier Journal of Hospitality, Leisure Sport and Tourism Education where Professor Tribe is Editor-in-Chief and Dr Paddison is specialist subject editor for tourism.

Additionally, Dr Paddison is co-chair of the Tourism Education Futures Initiative (TEFI) which is described as “the leading, forward-looking network that inspires, informs and supports tourism researchers, educators, those working in the sector to passionately and courageously transform the world for the better.” The 2020 TEFI conference was hosted by York St John under the banner of Re-purposing tourism: engaging our radical in tourism education.

Dr Hall is the Treasurer of the Geographies of Leisure and Tourism Research Group, which annually supports a post graduate conference and undergraduate dissertation prize.

Dr Charlie Croft: 'Different cities, different stories”? Sense of place and its implications for residents’ use of public spaces in the heritage city of York' (2021)

This study explores the relationship between sense of place and the way that individuals use (or do not use) public spaces across the city of York.

Focussing on embodied engagement, it seeks to understand how everyday use of public space is influenced by the individual’s relationship with place, their affective response to it, the understandings, beliefs, feelings and emotions that they have about it, as well as what is said about it.

The study finds that citizens engage with spaces on terms that do not necessarily accord with the “official” meaning or purpose but rather to the extent that they are able to draw them into assemblage with the particular life experiences that are core to the development of their individual subjectivity.

It points to the need for the local authority to adopt more holistic ways of engaging residents in thinking about the future development of the city where material and human considerations are consciously held together as of equal importance to sense of place.

Airey, D., Tribe, J., Benckendorff, P., and Xiao, H. (2015). The managerial gaze: The long tail of tourism education and research. Journal of Travel Research, 54(2), 139-151.

Avner, Z., Boocock, E., Allin, L., and Hall., J. (2021). 'Lines of Flight or Tethered Wings'? Analysis of women-only adventure skills courses in the United Kingdom. Somatechnics. (Pending Publication).

Boluk, K., Paddison, B. and Edelheim, J. (2022). A Collective Memory Work Reflection on Planning and Pivoting to a Virtual TEFI11 Conference, Journal of Teaching in Travel & Tourism.

Cai, W., Cohen, S. A., and Tribe, J. (2019). Harmony rules in Chinese backpacker groups. Annals of Tourism Research, 75, 120-130.

Croft, C. (2016). Hearing the authentic voice of stakeholders? Implications for governance of tourism strategy-making. Current Issues in Tourism, 21(14), 1670-1689.

Domínguez-Quintero, A. M., González-Rodríguez, M. R., and Paddison, B. (2020). The mediating role of experience quality on authenticity and satisfaction in the context of cultural-heritage tourism. Current Issues in Tourism, 23(2), 248-260.

González-Rodríguez, M. R., Domínguez-Quintero, A. M., and Paddison, B. (2020). The direct and indirect influence of experience quality on satisfaction: the importance of emotions. Current Issues in Tourism, 23(22), 2779-2797.

Hall, J., and Doran, A. (2020) Researching Female Mountaineers, United Kingdom. Capel Curig, Mountain Training UK (Unpublished Report).

Hall, J. (2018). Women Mountaineers and affect: Fear, Play and the Unknown. In: Saul, H., Waterton, E. eds. Affective Geographies of Transformation, Exploration and Adventure: Rethinking Frontiers. London, Routledge, pp.147 - 164.

Johan, N., Sadler-Smith, E., and Tribe, J. (2019). Informal and incidental learning in the liminal space of extended independent (gap-year) travel. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 18(3), 388-413.

Mkono, M., and Tribe, J. (2017). Beyond reviewing: Uncovering the multiple roles of tourism social media users. Journal of travel research, 56(3), 287-298.

Paddison, B., and Biggins, R. (2017). Advocating community integrated destination marketing planning in heritage destinations: the case of York. Journal of Marketing Management, 33(9-10), 835-857.

Paddison, B., and Walmsley, A. (2018). New Public Management in tourism: A case study of York. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 26(6), 910-926.

Tribe, J. (2002). The philosophic practitioner. Annals of tourism research, 29(2), 338-357.

Tribe, J. (2016). Strategy for tourism. Oxford, Goodfellow Publisher Limited.

Tribe, J., and Paddison, B. (2021). 'Degrees of change: Activating philosophic practitioners', Annals of Tourism Research, Vol. 91

Degrees of Change

Degrees of Change is a new collaborative project run by Dr Brendan Paddison and Professor John Tribe.

Tourism and hospitality students graduate with subject expertise and employment skills, but the Degrees of Change project aims to enhance their degrees and help students become active advocates for better tourism. 

The project is based on the research article Degrees of Change: Activating the Philosophic Practitioner, which proposes education interventions to expand students' development.

Participation in the project can be at individual lecturer level, or departmental or school level.

To find out more about the project and how to join, go to the Degrees of Change page, or watch our video.

Degrees of Change

The Dark Matters project

The Dark Matters: Understanding the impact of public engagement in a protected International Dark-Sky Reserve in the United Kingdom.

Conserving the dark sky is critical to our future. Led by Dr Jenny Hall and Dr Brendan Paddison, the Dark Matters project investigates how we mitigate the impact of light pollution through citizen science and public conservation initiatives to understand how we can protect our dark sky.

Through filmmaking and film ethnography, the study highlights how stakeholder engagement in dark-sky conservation can produce sustainable ways to raise awareness and help mitigate light pollution.

For more information, visit our project page:

The Dark Matters

Group members

Brendan Paddison

Dr Brendan Paddison

Group leader, Associate Professor

Professor John Tribe


Rebecca Biggins

Dr Rebecca Biggins

Associate Dean

Dr Alexandra Dales

Senior Lecturer

Dr Jenny Hall


Dr Charlie Croft


Dr Tom Ratcliffe

Lecturer in York Business School