Tourism in South Carolina is responsible for more than $17 billion in spending annually and employs approximately 10 percent of the state's workforce. The Center's vision is to be the leading center for innovative, relevant, and interdisciplinary research in tourism and destination management throughout the world.
- Become a one-stop resource of relevant data and research related to tourism and hospitality for the South Carolina tourism industry.
- Help guide public and private sector policies through academic consulting that will lead to improved tourism planning and development in South Carolina.
- Disseminate research via speaking engagements, conferences, research seminars, the website, newsletters, social networking, and marketing.
- Provide training and education for domestic and international leaders and scholars in various areas of excellence in the tourism industry.
- Act as a think tank for both applied and academic tourism-related research.
Lori Pennington-Gray, Ph.D.
Lori Pennington-Gray is a leader in tourism crisis management. She currently is the director of the Richardson Family SmartState Center for Economic Excellence in Tourism and Economic Development. She has a strong commitment to enhancing the industry and aiding in strategic policy decisions.
Ashley Schroeder, Ph.D.
Ashley Schroeder is an assistant professor in the School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management at the University of South Carolina. She also serves as the research lead of the Crisis Management Working Group in the Richardson Family SmartState Center for Economic Excellence in Tourism and Economic Development.
Marketa Kubickova, Ph.D.
Marketa Kubickova is an associate professor at the University of South Carolina School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management where she has worked since 2014. Prior to joining academia, she held a number of managerial positions in several upscale international hotels such as Four Seasons, The Breakers Resort in Palm Beach and The Boca Raton Resort and Spa in Boca Raton.
Estefania Basurto, Ph.D.
Estefania Basurto serves as research assistant professor in The Richardson Family SmartState Center of Economic Excellence in Tourism and Economic Development. In addition, she serves as the Destination Management Team Leader for the center.
Our Graduate Assistants
Graduate Research Assistant
Yaqi Gong is from Changsha, China. She received her B.S. in tourism management from Central China Normal University and her M.S. in recreation, park, and tourism management from the Pennsylvania State University. Her research interests include tourist online behavior, tourists’ interaction with technology, and ethical issues behind technology-enhanced tourism.