My research project
Beyond Good Intentions: Wildlife Tourism as a Driver of Emotion and Philanthropic Behaviour Change
I am a research fellow at the European Union’s Arctic Forum and the Royal Geographical Society, and joined the University of Surrey in October 2016. Recognised and funded by the ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council), my environmental psychology based research collaborates with leading tour operators and international wildlife charities to measure the actual value travelling has for conservation across the booking journey. Outcomes of this research identify the types of experiences/activities that add value and engage tourists to emotionally connect with the environments they visit, and pinpoint triggers in travel that inspire philanthropic donations both onsite and subsequently.
Prior to Surrey, I travelled to Antarctica, having been elected as the UK’s student representative of International Polar Years in 2007-2008. I was then selected to join the UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) on a research expedition to Svalbard in 2011. Such experiences led to my Master’s thesis, The future of Antarctica. Is tourism an ally or an enemy? and publication of my first book, Arctic Reflections (Tomac., Hehir. 2013).
Alongside my polar expeditions, I have 10 years of industry experience, having held positions at Walt Disney World, Bournemouth Tourism, The Tourism Society, VisitEngland and, most recently, VisitBritain.