IUPUI Faculty Profile: Bingjie “Becky” Liu-Lastres, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Tourism, Event, and Sport Management
School of Health & Human Sciences
Becky Liu-Lastres is an assistant professor in the Department of Tourism, Event and Sport Management. Her main research interests include risk communication and crisis management in tourism and hospitality, tourist safety and security, and employee well-being in hospitality.
While her key area of expertise is crisis and risk management in tourism, most recently, Liu-Lastres studying and working to improve the role tourism and the tourism industry can play in slowing the effects of climate change and rebuilding sustainable futures following climate disasters. This focus explores elements such as employee well-being in hospitality, risk perceptions and personal protective behaviors, and organizational behavior in hospitality.
The goal of Liu-Lastres' research agenda is to promote safe travel and to ensure the health and well-being of tourists, organizations and other key stakeholders within the tourism and hospitality industry.
Promoting Tourism, Supporting a Sustainable Future
Tourism has been widely used as an economic development tool for many developing and developed countries; meanwhile, there has been much criticism addressing the enormous pressure on a destination brought by tourism, such as increased population, natural habitat loss, and over-tourism. Contemporary society is highly risky, and recent events such as the COVID-19 pandemic have presented various challenges for the public, communities, and society. Dr. Liu-Lastres points to Daniel Wahl’s argument that the future of tourism is highly interrelated with the future of humanity, where tourism can act as both a means to reach sustainable development goals and become a catalyst for regeneration.
Tourism and public understanding and engagement with sustainability are intertwined. The UN’s World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), for instance, is a leading voice in the promotion of responsible, sustainable, and universally accessible tourism geared towards the achievement of the universal 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The 17 SDGs and their corresponding targets offer a the world a new direction, and tourism can and must play a significant role in delivering sustainable solutions for people, the planet, prosperity, and peace. Previous academic research and organizations such as the UNWTO suggest that tourism can play a particularly useful role in SDG 8 (Decent Work & Economic Growth), SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption & Production), and SDG 14 (Life Below Water); however, the work of Dr. Liu-Lastres and her collegues is proving that tourism as an industry and a participatory learning activity has the potential to contribute, directly and indirectly, to all of the 17 goals.
Tourism Enhances Global Community and Encourages Sustainability
Dr. Liu-Lastres’s research agenda, which surrounds risk and crisis management in tourism and hospitality, reveals a bridge between the future of humanity and our planet. She suggests that a personal level, tourism acts as one of the primary vehicles that allow society to become increasingly connected through encounters. The connection between tourists and residents not only creates transformative experiences for both parties but also leads to a strong bond and results in positive consequences such as increased residents’ support for tourism and enhanced visitor experiences. At a collective level, Dr. Liu-Lastres suggests that destinations can incorporate tourism development in their disaster relief efforts and utilize post-disaster tourism as a strategy to enhance local livelihood, build community resilience, and achieve the sustainable development goals. Across the personal and collective levels tourism can have an impact on all 17 SDG outcomes. Additionally, tourism plays an active role in facilitating public-private partnerships and co-managing major disasters for destinations and communities, which is an essential component in sustainable development and specifically spelled out under SDG 17 (Partnerships for Goals).