Centre for Sustainability and Wellbeing in the Visitor Economy (SWELL) logo

Centre for Sustainability and Wellbeing in the Visitor Economy

We are developing critical evidence to inform public and private governance of the visitor economy, in the UK and globally.

Research aims

Centre for Sustainability and Wellbeing in the Visitor Economy (SWELL) logo

We strive to deliver research and teaching which drives inspiration for an environmentally, economically and socially sustainable society with a particular focus on the transport, tourism, hospitality and events industries. With a truly interdisciplinary group of academics, we work with intergovernmental organisations, industry and NGOs. We focus on the following key areas:

  • Sustainability evidence-based policy making
  • Industry’s acceptance of responsibility for sustainable development
  • Sustainable development and entrepreneurship
  • Sustainable and efficient transportation
  • Sustainability marketing, product design and communication.

Research projects

Current projects



We analyse and promote methods for travel trade associations, industry and certification bodies to take more responsibility to be sustainable. The Association of Independent Tour Operators has commissioned us to develop and deliver a sustainability pledge system for its members.

During 2019-20 we are researching primate-tourist-resident conflict resolution methods, with the support of the Global Challenges Research Fund.

In 2018 we researched the responsibility that travel trade associations acknowledge to promote animal welfare amongst their members, in partnership with World Animal Protection. We previously researched the corporate social responsibility policies and practices of cruise lines, international hotel groups and small hospitality firms, including an audit of the Sustainable Development Goals in global hotel groups, for United Nations Environment.

EU and Interreg logos


We have partnered with six regions on a cross-border Interreg EU funded project called EXPERIENCE.

The project aims to reduce seasonality across the French-English Channel region through the introduction of sustainable, experiential tourism activities designed for the winter season. Building upon the growing trend in experiential tourism based on regional uniqueness, the project aims to identify and enhance each region’s cultural and natural assets in order to attract more visitors during off-peak season.

An essential goal of the strategy however is to ensure a sustainable growth in winter tourism numbers without jeopardising the eco-systems and quality of life of the host communities.

EXPERIENCE will harness the experiential tourism trend to extend the visitor season, generating 20m new visitors and delivering sustainable economic growth across the France Channel England region. 14 Project Partners will reinvent the way the economy, environment, communities and brands interact across 6 pilot regions - focusing on low-impact activities and working to secure the future resilience of our natural and cultural assets.

This €23.3m project will develop and test the strategy across six pilot regions:

  • Brittany
  • Pas-de-Calais
  • Compiègne
  • Norfolk
  • Kent
  • Cornwall.

Our role:

Our role as a university will be to assist in the following work packages:

  • Uniting and training traditional (tourism offices) and atypical actors (foresters/artisans) to recognise unique regional tourism selling points
  • Co-designing a new off-season tourism offer with destinations, harnessing regional selling points to create exciting itineraries
  • Testing off-season experiential tourism marketing solutions through the use of the Digital Lab.

We will also be the lead partner for the evaluation of economic, social, and environmental impacts on pilot regions to ensure the project creates long-lasting benefits in host communities. We will ensure the sustainability of project activities by creating indicators to monitor and measure how EXPERIENCE will contribute towards:

  • Economic gain (e.g. Supporting local businesses and year-round jobs)
  • Social gain (visitors must not overwhelm local culture and service provision in host communities)
  • Environmental gain (protecting natural and cultural assets that visitors travel to see).

Budget: €16.1 million ERDF

Project duration: 3.8 years



Our team was behind the creation of the European Tourism Indicator System (ETIS), and we continue to engage with governments to use sustainability evidence to take more informed policy decisions. In 2019, we will work with municipalities in South Sardinia (Italy) on sustainability evidence-based policy making.

We recently created the Global Sustainable Tourism Dashboard in collaboration with Griffith University. This dynamic online tool presents a range of sustainability indicators for the tourism sector, and aims to provide a broader insight into how the sector is contributing to key sustainability goals at the global level. In 2018, we wrote a manual to transfer best practices on sustainable tourism policy making, park of the Interreg Mitomed+ project.

In 2017, we advised the Catalan Tourist Board on their 2017 marketing plans, centred around repositioning Catalonia as a sustainable tourist destination. We were also commissioned to develop a white paper for the city of Barcelona on how its tourist board could redesign its marketing strategy to achieve more sustainable development.

Start date: 2016
End date: 2020



  • Amount: €135,000.


Our research focuses on sustainable aspects of mobility, hypermobility, promotion of slower and more environmentally friendly travel. In 2016-17, we were awarded €135,000 to assess the socio-economic and environmental impact of Clean Sky 1, the EU’s largest ever aeronautics research programme, for its ability to meet the Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe’s 2020 objectives for emissions abatement, noise reduction, and lifecycle design.

Observatory for Human Rights and Major Events (HaRM)

HaRM logo

Aligning ‘well-being’ and ‘human rights’ together, specifically in the context of major events, SWELL is home to the new research ‘Observatory for Human Rights and Major Events’ (HaRM). HaRM’s work is focused around three Pillars: 1) human exploitation and trafficking, 2) urban regeneration and development: Community disruption and displacement, and 3) Visitor economies and experiences: Organisational and behavioural barriers to community leveraging. More detailed information about HaRM, research topics, and experts involved can be found on the HaRM webpage.

Gender, Entrepreneurship and Social Policy Institute (GESPi)

Gender, Entrepreneurship and Social Policy Institute (GESPi) logo

The Gender, Entrepreneurship and Social Policy Institute (GESPi) conducts research on how to achieve more sustainable forms of development and how to promote wellbeing through the tourism, hospitality, events and other service sectors. This includes getting a better understanding regarding the role of tourism and the services sectors within communities in enabling the diversification of livelihoods and promoting sustainable entrepreneurship and employment, particularly for marginalised communities, including promoting gender empowerment. We analyse how policy adjustments and stakeholder collaborations can generate positive change and inclusive growth. For more information please see the GESPi website.

Find an expert


Susanne Becken profile image

Professor Susanne Becken

VC Research Fellow

Scott Cohen profile image

Professor Scott Cohen

Professor of Tourism and Transport, School Director of Research, Head of Department of Tourism and Transport

Mike Duignan profile image

Dr Michael Duignan

Head of Department and Reader in Events

Cristina Figueroa Domecq profile image

Dr Cristina Figueroa Domecq

Marie Curie Research Fellow

Leo Jago profile image

Professor Leo Jago

Emeritus Professor

Albert Kimbu profile image

Dr Albert Kimbu

Senior Lecturer

Yanning Li profile image

Dr Yanning Li

Lecturer in Events Management

Graham Miller profile image

Professor Graham Miller

Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Professor of Sustainability in Business

Nigel Morgan profile image

Professor Nigel Morgan

Head of School of Hospitality and Tourism Management

Manuel Alector Ribeiro profile image

Dr Alector Ribeiro

Lecturer in Tourism Management

Caroline Scarles profile image

Professor Caroline Scarles

Professor of Technology in Society, Director of Centre of Digital Transformation in the Visitor Economy

Daniel Scott profile image

Professor Daniel Scott

Vice-Chancellor's Fellow

Nikolas Thomopoulos profile image

Dr Nikolas Thomopoulos

Senior Lecturer in Transport

Xuan (Lorna) Wang profile image

Dr Lorna Wang

Deputy Head, Department of Hospitality

Postgraduate research students

Mohammad Ruhual Amin profile image

Ruhual Amin

Postgraduate Research Student

Hoyoung (Rachel) Chang profile image

Rachel Chang

Postgraduate research student

David Cloarec profile image

David Cloarec

PhD Researcher

Gloria Crabolu profile image

Gloria Crabolu

PhD Researcher

Sara Dalir profile image

Sara Dalir

PhD researcher

Christy Hehir profile image

Christy Hehir

Programme Leader and Lecturer in Events / PhD Researcher (Environmental Psychology & Travel)

Lori Hoy profile image

Lori Hoy

PhD Researcher

Placeholder image for staff profiles

Mohamed Ibrahim

Postgraduate Research Student

Yuting Jiang profile image

Yuting Jiang

Postgraduate Research Student

Minhee Jung profile image

Minhee Jung

PhD Researcher

Hye Rhim Kim profile image

Hye Rhim Kim

PhD Researcher

Xiaotong Ma profile image

Xiaotong Ma

Postgraduate Research Student

Luigina Jessica Montano profile image

Luigina Montano

PhD Researcher

Pablo Pereira Doel profile image

Pablo Pereira Doel

Research Fellow

Placeholder image for staff profiles

Harald Rice

PhD Student

Placeholder image for staff profiles

Prosanjit Saha

Postgraduate Research Student

Lauren Siegel profile image

Lauren Siegel

PhD Researcher

Bert Smit profile image

Bert Smit

Postgraduate Research Student

Whitney Smith profile image

Whitney Smith

PhD Student

Jenny Suno Wu profile image

Jenny Suno Wu

Postgraduate Research Student

Darina Svobodova profile image

Darina Svobodova

PhD Researcher

Anke Winchenbach profile image

Anke Winchenbach

Teaching Fellow and PhD Researcher

Contact us

  • Phone: +44 (0)1483 686300
  • Fax: +44 (0)1483 686346

Find us

School of Hospitality and Tourism Management
Austin Pearce Building (AP)
University of Surrey