Richard Aquino

Richard Aquino

Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Master of International Tourism Management

The desire to complete industry-relevant research is why Richard Aquino decided to come to AUT to study tourism management.

“I wanted to do research that has the potential to provide solutions for challenges the tourism industry faces. To achieve this, I needed to advance my understanding of tourism studies and management theories, and postgraduate study in international tourism management was perfect for that.”

Choosing where to study was easy, he says.

“I chose AUT because it’s home to globally recognised experts in my field, especially in nature-based tourism, tourist behaviour and destination heritage management. AUT is also the home of the New Zealand Tourism Research Institute, which specialises in applied research and consultancy for tourism destinations around the world.”

Research that matters
For his master’s degree, Richard explored why so many tourists are fascinated by active volcanoes, despite the risks involved in visiting these sites.

“I grew up near Mt Pinatubo, an active volcano in the Philippines which last erupted in 1991. My childhood was filled by the images of this volcanic eruption and its impacts,” says Richard who came to AUT as an international student.

“Today, Mt Pinatubo is one of my country’s most popular tourist attractions, and I was curious why people visit this site, what they expect from their visits, and how they interact with the site and its people. I’m hoping that my findings will help tourism marketers when it comes to promoting volcanic sites like Mt Pinatubo.”

Now studying a PhD, Richard is currently researching the dynamics of tourism, social entrepreneurship and community development.

“I’m particularly interested in understanding whether and how communities are being transformed by tourism and social businesses. I’m currently conducting my fieldwork in two communities, which are identified as 'marginalised' in the Philippines. My goal is to create a community transformation mapping framework that can be utilised by social entrepreneurs and local tourism administrators.”

Relevant and open-minded
There have been many highlights throughout his studies, Richard says.

“AUT has provided me with a social, professional and encouraging academic environment. My lecturers are extremely generous in imparting their knowledge and expertise. The papers aren’t limited to the theoretical aspects of the subject, but they enable us to go out into field and apply what we’ve learnt through projects.

“I’ve also been able to achieve the goals I set myself when I joined AUT. I had the chance to teach tutorials for a tourism paper, I served as a research assistant and I got to present my research at the New Zealand Tourism and Hospitality Research Conference. These experiences are so valuable and helped me get employment as a researcher and consultant when I returned to the Philippines after my master’s degree.

“I’ve enjoyed my studies at AUT from the beginning to the end, and that’s why I’ve returned for more,” says Richard who is now enrolled in a Doctor of Philosophy.