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Graduate School

UofSC Ph.D. Student Working to Help Tourism Industry Recover

University of South Carolina Ph.D. student Hyunsu (Henry) Kim is leading a study that could provide practical strategies for the tourism industry as it works to recover from the impact of the pandemic. With help from a university grant, his research aims to provide tourism professionals with applicable knowledge and tools to rebuild destination economies while addressing the needs and concerns of travelers.

“The recent global outbreak of COVID-19 has resulted in an unprecedented catastrophe for the tourism industry.” Kim says.

Kim, currently working on his Ph.D. in hospitality management, is one of the 2021 recipients of the SPARC Grant sponsored by the University of South Carolina’s Office of the Vice President for Research. The SPARC programprovides the opportunity for eligible graduate students to secure funding up to $5,000 to support their research, creative or other meritorious scholarly project.

The grant will fund Kim’s research on post-disaster recovery strategies in tourism destinations and will be used for data collection needed to develop models for tourism crisis response. He hopes the results will bridge the gap between theory and practice, providing a framework for tourism industry professionals in South Carolina and around the world.

Kim says most of the tourism research done so far related to COVID-19 has focused on the negative impacts of the pandemic with little practical insight into how the industry can recover.

By using a combination of local and national data collected over time, Kim will attempt to pinpoint the key factors affecting tourism demand during the pandemic. By doing so, he hopes to shed light on changing trends in the tourism market along with potential visitors’ perceptions toward tourism destinations at the individual level.

“I’m excited about this work because it is an opportunity to make a real difference,” says Kim. “I want to help people and communities get back to normal.”

Kim received his B.A. in international studies and M.S. in convention exhibition management from Kyunghee University, South Korea before coming to South Carolina to pursue his Ph.D. in hospitality management. His research interests include technology-driven consumer behavior and marketing management in the hospitality industry. Kim will be working on his SPARC grant research with faculty advisors Kevin So of Oklahoma State University and Brian Mihalik in South Carolina’s College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management.

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