8th Research Round Table, Friday October 11th from 12pm to 2pm in WH125 (AUT)

Authors: Dominik Huber & Guillaume Tiberghien, PhD Candidates in Tourism (AUT)

Join the Research Round Table and listen to Marta Garcia Gonzalez and Krisztian Vas who are presenting their research projects. This time we will have two sessions about presenting a thesis. Marta will talk about her masters thesis which she will present soon at a conference in Melbourne (see abstract and biography below). The thesis is about the “Online promotion of local food by accommodation operators in Vanuatu.” Krisztian will give the second presentation about his PGR9. His research is about “The Economic and Conservation Value of Bird-watching in New Zealand.” We want to give the opportunity to practice the PGR9 within the frame of the Research Round Table, as the PGR9 is a crucial step in the process of conducting a PhD thesis at AUT.

Marta Garcia Gonzalez

Online promotion of local food by accommodation operators in Vanuatu


Tourism in the South Pacific has been predicated on the sun, sea and sand images associated with large-scale tourism and poor multiplier effect. Enhancing linkages between tourism and local food is critical in retaining and spreading tourism revenue in the region. Vanuatu and other South Pacific nations are little known as a destination for culinary tourism. Tourism websites have the potential to enhance visitors’ food experiences and provide socio-economic benefits to host communities. This paper focuses on the role of accommodation websites in enhancing linkages between tourism and local food when promoting tourist experiences in Vanuatu. The objectives of this paper are to: (i) examine how accommodation websites promote local food experiences; (ii) explore how the promotion of local food varies across the different islands. Content and discourse analyses are used to analyse images and written descriptions to ascertain the extent to which local food is promoted on accommodation websites in Vanuatu. A total of 97 accommodation websites were audited to provide a better understanding on how accommodation operators can contribute to the sustainability of the tourism industry in Vanuatu.

The study highlights that accommodation websites in Vanuatu do not promote local food as a primary tourist attraction. The analysis of images and written descriptions show that accommodation websites rarely promote local food and instead focus on promoting ocean views and marine activities. Also, the way local food is promoted on accommodation websites varies across the different islands in Vanuatu – as familiar “Western” food is promoted on websites from Efate, as opposed to the attempt of businesses in the outer islands to promote the authenticity and uniqueness of local food on their websites. This paper supports the notion that the promotion of a variety of food experiences on websites of accommodation operators in Vanuatu can increase the attractiveness of the destination by disseminating relevant information to visitors prior to travel and consequently, increase tourist expenditure.


Marta has recently graduated from her Master in International Hospitality Management at Auckland University of Technology (AUT) and is currently working on the admission to a PhD programme. She is also preparing two publications co-authored by Evangeline Singh and Simon Milne and will be presenting at the 3rd Regional Food Cultures and Networks Conference 2013, in Australia, next 30th of October.

As always, please feel free to bring up any difficulties or issues you are currently facing in your own research project which we can discuss either immediately or as a next topic for following round tables. Just like last time we will have some tea, coffee and biscuits.  Please contact us for any questions, suggestions or other comments regarding the research round tables.

We hope to see many of  you there.


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