Conference Online
Danny O'Brien

Assoc Prof Danny O'Brien
Associate Professor and Head of Program, Sport Management, Bond University

Dr. Danny O'Brien is an Assoc. Professor and Head of Program, Sport Management, in the School of Health Sciences at Bond University. Dr. O'Brien is a graduate of Australian Catholic University and California State University, Long Beach. In 2000, he completed a PhD in sport management from DeMontfort University, England that explored organisational change in English rugby union. Dr. O'Brien teaches sport tourism, event management, and strategic management. His research interests lie in sustainable surf tourism, event leveraging, and organisational change. He has served on the Editorial Boards of three academic journals for over 10 years and is the incoming Associate Editor of Sport Management Review. Dr. O'Brien has presented at over 30 international conferences and published book chapters and articles in peer-reviewed journals such as Journal of Sport Management; Sport Management Review; European Sport Management Quarterly; Annals of Tourism Research; Journal of Sustainable Tourism; European Journal of Marketing; International Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research; Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research; and Journal of Leisure Research. Dr. O'Brien is a member of Bond University's Water-Based Research Unit. He is also a Visiting Professor at both the Center for Surf Research at San Diego State University; and the Plymouth Sustainability and Surfing Research Group, Plymouth University, UK.

Presentation Title: STOKE Certified: Creating the Case for Sustainability Certification in Surf Tourism
Presentation Day: Tuesday 14th March
Presentation Time: 10.15 - 10.35am

Sustainability management and certification programs have existed in the wider mass tourism industry for many decades. However, in the niche surf tourism sector, small size and remote location renders most operations unsuitable for certification programs. This presentation explores the early stages of a coordinated effort to establish a sustainability management and certification program specifically for the surf tourism sector, called STOKE Certified. Creating the case for sustainability certification involved collecting survey data to explore surf tourists’ behaviours, attitudes and beliefs with regard to the relationship between sustainability and surf tourism. The survey results (n = 2,994) support the notion that surfers care deeply about the economic, social and ecological welfare of the communities they visit for surf trips. These data also indicate a zone of elasticity in the prices surf tourists are willing to pay for sustainability certified surf tourism services. The strategies employed by STOKE Certified to achieve some level of awareness and demand for sustainability certification are also explored. Finally, qualitative interview data with operators trailling the STOKE Certified program suggest there is an appetite in the industry for surf tourism sustainability certification. Most operators are surfers themselves, running small enterprises with limited resources. Sustainability certification has played an educative role, and enabled goodwill to be transitioned into strategic action as operators now have a framework around which to develop a comprehensive sustainability management system.

Jess Ponting, PhD Center for Surf Research, L. Robert Payne School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, San Diego State University, USA