Tourism Dissertation Topics

Example tourism dissertation topic 1:

Rural tourism in South Lanarkshire: Leadership and development.

Building on research by Haven-Tang and Jones (2012), this dissertation compares the LEADER programmes in Monmouthshire, and South Lanarkshire, with a greater focus on the latter. The LEADER programmes seek to develop tourism projects in rural areas, with consideration of all aspects of rural tourism. This includes bed and breakfasts, farms (for example, farming holidays, or petting farms), equine, hunting and fishing tourism, traditional skills (such as residential dry-stone walling courses, or blacksmithing), food and drink (including pubs), and arts and crafts (for instance, local galleries). Rural tourism is especially important in South Lanarkshire, given that its largest towns, East Kilbride and Hamilton, have populations of 75,000 and 48,000 respectively (ONS, 2001).

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Haven-Tang, C. and Jones, E. (2012). ‘Local leadership for rural tourism development: A case study of Adventa, Monmouthshire, UK’, Tourism Management Perspectives, Vol. 4, pp. 28-35.
  • Lane, B. (2009). ‘Rural tourism: An overview’. In, T. Jamal and M. Robinson (eds.), The SAGE handbook of tourism studies. London: SAGE, pp. 354-370.
  • Panyik, E., Costa, C. and Ratz, T. (2011). ‘Implementing integrated rural tourism: An event-based approach’, Tourism Management, Vol. 32(6), pp. 1352-1363.

Example tourism dissertation topic 2:

Safari tourism in Africa: Marketing to a Chinese clientele.

The increasing Chinese presence – both diplomatically and commercially – in Africa offers new markets for safari operators, particularly in a global environment of burgeoning Chinese-oriented tourism. This paper explores the potential for tour operators to promote safaris specifically to a Chinese market, including issues of cultural awareness, pricing, shopping, and accommodation, from the perspectives of both hunting and photographic safaris. A case study examines the move by the London-based travel firm, Abercrombie and Kent, to expand into this market (Haizhou, 2012). Finally, the dissertation considers how Chinese firms may learn from experienced safari providers to develop the market for wholly Chinese-owned providers, without African/Chinese conflict.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Ashley, C. and Roe, D. (2002). ‘Making tourism work for the poor: Strategies and challenges in southern Africa’, Development Southern Africa, Vol. 19(1), pp. 61-82.
  • Haizhou, Z. (2012). ‘Into Africa’, China Daily [online]. Available at: .
  • Michel, S. and Beuret, M. (2009). China safari: On the trial of Beijing’s expansion in Africa. New York: Nation Books.

Example tourism dissertation topic 3:

An evaluation of the success of the Annapurna Conservation Area Project in Nepal and its continuing effects on eco- and adventure tourism.

The Annapurna Conservation Project Area in Nepal seeks to redress the balance lost in the expansion of trekking tourism over the last thirty years. This thesis examines the success of the project in restoring cultural and ecological integrity to the area, without any diminution of the economic benefits that the region needs for survival. A particular focus is the success of tourism training projects among the indigenous residents of the area, and the effect of such training on tourism, given that eco- and adventure tourism continues to rise. Using both secondary research methods and primary research (through interviews) the thesis offers considerable scope for creativity and research rigour.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Baral, N., Stern, M.J. and Hammett, A.L. (2012). ‘Developing a scale for evaluating ecotourism by visitors: A study in the Annapurna Conservation Area, Nepal’, Journal of Sustainable Tourism, Vol. 20(7), pp. 975-989.
  • Khadka, D. and Nepal, S.K. (2010). ‘Local responses to participatory conservation in Annapurna Conservation Area, Nepal’, Environmental Management, Vol. 45(2), pp. 351-362.
  • Nyaupane, G.P. and Thapa, B. (2004). ‘Evaluation of ecotourism: A comparative assessment in the Annapurna Conservation Area Project, Nepal’, Journal of Ecotourism, Vol. 3(1), pp. 20-45.

Example tourism dissertation topic 4:

The role of original art in the commercial success of boutique hotels.

Although the ’boutique’ hotel sector bears so single definition, consensus seems to be drawn that such hotels have relatively few guest rooms, offer a distinctive art and design style, and a high standard of service. This paper considers how much the role of art in hotels has escalated in recent years and has become a characteristic of boutique hotels. It explores the cost of individual and original art in a number of boutique hotels in the UK, and interviews are conducted with hotel management and guests to determine the role that art plays in choosing to stay with particular hotels.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Aggett, M. (2007). ‘What has influenced growth in the UK’s boutique hotel sector?’, International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 19(2), pp.169-177.
  • Mcintosh, A.J. and Siggs, A. (2005). ‘An exploration of the experiential nature of boutique accommodation’, Journal of Travel Research, Vol. 44(1), pp. 74-81.
  • Strannegård, L. and Strannegård, M. (2012). ‘Works of art: Aesthetic ambitions in design hotels’, Annals of Tourism Research, Vol. 39(4), pp. 1995-2012.

Example tourism dissertation topic 5:

Slum tourism: Ghoulish or good-hearted?

This dissertation investigates the phenomenon of ‘slum tourism’, which dates back more than one hundred years. Examining briefly the history of such tours, it then considers the value of slum tourism in exposing individuals to inequities in living standards, income and even opportunity. Changes in slum tourism to South Africa, dating from the 1980s, is evaluated throughout its ‘progress’ to the present day, and compared to those tours currently being offered to the slums of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Dharavi, India. The paper evaluates whether the residents of slums receive any short- or long-term benefit from such exposure, thus determining its value.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Diekmann, A. and Hannam, K. (2012). ‘Touristic mobilities in India’s slum spaces’, Annals of Tourism Research, Vol. 39(3), pp. 1315-1336.
  • Dondolo, L. (2002). The construction of public history and tourism destinations in Cape Town’s townships: A study of routes, sites and heritage. Cape Town: University of the Western Cape.
  • Meschkank, J. (2011). ‘Investigations into slum tourism in Mumbai: poverty tourism and the tensions between different constructions of reality’, Annals of Tourism Research, Vol. 39(3), pp. 1315-1336.

Example tourism dissertation topic 6:

‘My home, my rules’ – a study of discrimination in bed and breakfast homes in the UK.

Recent publicity (Moynihan, 2012) has focussed on discrimination against gay couples by bed and breakfast owners in the UK. This dissertation examines not only sexual orientation discrimination but other forms of discrimination in the sector, from colour to occupation to children. It weighs the rights of the bed and breakfast owners to choose who should stay in their home with them, against the rights of those who are paying for accommodation, and in the light of anti-discrimination legislation. Interviews are conducted with those who have been declined accommodation, bed and breakfast owners, and industry representatives. Finally, it makes recommendations for owners to avoid litigation.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Bromley, C., Curtice, J. and Given, L. (2006). Attitudes to discrimination in Scotland: 2006
  • Mcintosh, A.J., Lynch, P. and Sweeney, M. (2011). ‘”My home is my castle”: Defiance of the commercial homestay host in tourism’, Journal of Travel Research, Vol. 50(5), pp. 509-519.
  • Moynihan, T. (2012). ‘Gay couple Michael Black and John Morgan sue bed and breakfast owner Susanne Wilkinson over room refusal’, The Independent, 17th September 2012.
  • Scottish social attitudes survey. Edinburgh: Scottish Government Social Research.

Example tourism dissertation topic 7:

Capacity in the London hotel market, after the London Olympics 2012.

This dissertation researches the risks in the London hotel market, focussing on over-capacity, in the wake of the London Olympics 2012. Lee and Jang (2012) suggest that over-capacity is a natural phenomenon, preferable to under-capacity, occurring in cycles, and is often related to specific events. In light of articles stressing over-capacity in London prior to the Olympics (Blitz, 2012), this paper evaluates how severe the after-shocks of the Olympics are likely to be in the London hotel market, both in the luxury and non-luxury sectors. Additionally, it provides recommendations for hotel operators to minimise such effects after other large-scale events.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Blitz, R. (2012). ‘London hotels slash Olympics prices’, Financial Times, 27th June 2012.
  • Lee, S.K. and Jang, S.C. (2012). ‘Re-examining the overcapacity of the US lodging industry’, International Journal of Hospitality Management, Vol. 31(4), pp. 1050-1058.
  • Pullman, M. and Rodgers, S. (2010). ‘Capacity management for hospitality and tourism: A review of current approaches’, International Journal of Hospitality Management, Vol. 29(1), pp. 177-187.

Example tourism dissertation topic 8:

A proposal for a co-operative corporate social responsibility model for small, independent hotels.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) need not be the province only of large companies, yet the economies of scale available to large enterprises ensures that green initiatives and similar CSR endeavours are often restricted to this market. This dissertation suggests a co-operative model for CSR, whereby small, independent hotels in distinct regions combine to achieve greater savings in energy, services and supplies. Even aspects such as staff training could be achieved within a co-operative model, thus enabling small businesses to enjoy the benefits that enhanced CSR brings, without the prohibitive costs for one-off courses and contracts.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Dam, L. and Scholtens, B. (2012). ‘Does ownership type matter for corporate social responsibility?’, Corporate Governance: An International Review, Vol. 20, pp. 233-252.
  • Garay, L. and Font, X. (2012). ‘Doing good to do well? Corporate social responsibility reasons, practices and impacts in small and medium accommodation enterprises’, International Journal of Hospitality Management, Vol. 31(2), pp. 329-337.
  • Njite, D., Hancer, M. and Slevitch, L. (2011). ‘Exploring corporate social responsibility: A managers’ perspective on how and why small independent hotels engage with their communities’, Journal of Quality Assurance in Hospitality & Tourism, Vol. 12(3), pp. 177-201.

Example tourism dissertation topic 9:

Conference souvenir sales: T-shirts, tea towels, and teddy bears.

Many conference attendees find themselves too busy to shop, but their families look forward to souvenirs; airport souvenir sales outlets do not always fulfil this need, particularly with limited trading hours or have smaller, regional facilities with few shops. This thesis considers the opportunity for conference souvenirs to expand past the items offered by exhibitors, such as logo-inscribed pens and baseball caps, to a specific sales outlet that retails a variety of souvenirs aimed at different market sectors and price points, and with repeat collectability. Reviewing that which is currently available, the paper explores the profitability of such enterprises and makes recommendations for conference facilities considering this form of expansion.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Abendroth, L.J. (2011). ‘The souvenir purchase decision: Effects of online availability’, International Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research, Vol. 5(2), pp.173-183.
  • Swanson, K.K. (2004). ‘Tourists’ and retailers’ perceptions of souvenirs’, Journal of Vacation Marketing, Vol. 10(4), pp. 363-377.
  • Wei, L., Zhan, L. and Zhang, H. (2010). ‘Theoretical exploration on tourism souvenir development based on culture regionalism’, International Conference on e-Product, e-Service and e-Entertainment, Henan, China, 7-9 November 2010.

Example tourism dissertation topic 10:

‘Death tourism’: Not just a one-way trip.

The popular perception that those wishing to die at assisted suicide facilities such as that of Dignitas, in Switzerland, make a single trip is false. At least three trips are required, and patients are usually accompanied by at least one family member. This paper investigates the growing market of death tourism, and considers the opportunities for ‘package deals’, whereby clients purchase in advance the three components of the travel process. Such packages may include specialised excursions, medical assistance or other amenities. The thesis also examines the legal risks involved in ‘death tourism’ and the possible prosecution of companies involved.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Akhilesh, P., Mangal, H.M., Hetal, K. and Sadik, H. (2009). ‘Death tourism (sterbetourism): Destination to heaven’, Journal of Indian Academy of Forensic Medicine, Vol. 31(3), pp. 274-276.
  • Coggan, J. (2008). Assisting ‘death tourism’: Possible prosecution or pragmatic immunity? Centre for Social Ethics and Policy, Institute for Science, Ethics, and Innovation, School of Law, University of Manchester.
  • Srinivas, R. (2009). ‘Exploring the potential for American death tourism’, Michigan State University Journal of Medicine and Law, Vol. 91(13), pp. 92-123.

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