Academic has big plans for tourism on the Sunshine Coast | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Academic has big plans for tourism on the Sunshine Coast

A globally-recognised tourism academic has made the Sunshine Coast his new research base, recently taking on the role of USC’s Associate Dean (Research).

Associate Professor Brent Moyle, 35, says the Sunshine Coast presents enormous opportunities to not only study tourism, but to help the region develop its capacity to engage more visitors in a sustainable manner.

World Tourism Day is Thursday 27 September.

“With its natural scenery and wildlife, the Sunshine Coast has huge potential for further enhancing an already vibrant eco-tourism industry and to engage visitors in citizen science,” he said.

“There’s also scope to capture the Coast’s incredible scenery to create immersive experiences for people, which can be a mix of being onsite, virtual reality, playing games and even virtual travel,” he said.

“Immersive experiences are not only a powerful marketing tool but can add significant value to attractions that are already present on the Sunshine Coast.

“In particular, virtual travel can provide an opportunity for people to experience places if they are unable to travel, or treatment for people who suffer from medical conditions, such as depression or anxiety.”

A core thread of Associate Professor Moyle’s research has been sustainability, with virtual tourism providing the potential to mitigate sustainability challenges caused by growing international tourist movement.

“China alone has 120 million outbound visitors every year. It is simply unrealistic for every person to travel everywhere,” he said.

“We know from experience that tourism has the opportunity to enhance and to destroy, and the secret to protecting a region is to ensure that that the assets are properly managed,” he said.

Associate Professor Moyle also has a strong interest in the cognitive psychology behind tourism, pinpointing the emotive factors that make tourism experiences valuable and memorable.

“I’m interested in how people react to stimuli in virtual and real tourism environments, and there are some great new technologies in this field,” he said.

He has previously applied innovative technologies that measure brain, facial, skin and heart responses to explore how to use novelty, surprise and other emotions to deliver memorable tourism experiences.

Based on this research, Associate Professor Moyle is using virtual tourism to create “windows into the past” at heritage sites in the outback on an Advance Queensland Fellowship.

He led a team that created a simulated rocket space experiential centre at the Charleville Cosmos Centre and now has helped secure funding to build a full planetarium at the site

He has also been commissioned to develop a series of immersive digital heritage experience prototypes as part of the Advance Queensland Fellowship, positioned in Charleville, a critical line of defence for Australia in World War II.

- Janelle Kirkland

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