VIU researcher exploring tourism resilience in rural BC communities

Farhad Moghimefar paddling a kayak and smiling off into the distance

Dr. Farhad Moghimehfar paddling a kayak. Photo: Vancouver Island University

February 14, 2024 - 11:00am

Dr. Farhad Moghimehfar named new BC Regional Innovation Chair for Tourism and Sustainable Rural Development.

A Vancouver Island University (VIU) researcher is exploring the ability of rural and remote communities to become more resilient through tourism opportunities.

Dr. Farhad Moghimehfar is VIU’s new British Columbia Regional Innovation Chair (BCRIC) for Tourism and Sustainable Rural Development.

“I am incredibly excited to embark on this journey,” said Moghimehfar. “Rural tourism and sustainable development have always been more than academic interests. I am passionate about outdoor activities and rural areas have always played a significant role in my experiences and understanding of how tourism can positively impact communities.”

Moghimehfar has a strong track record of research in western Canada relevant to rural areas. His research interests lie in the area of nature-based tourism, focusing on community resilience and studies of human behaviour. Moghimehfar has also provided community and professional advisory services related to tourism, park planning, research design and advanced data analysis in Alberta, BC and internationally. He serves as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Ecotourism and has published in leading journals such as Tourism Management and Leisure Sciences.

In his new role, Moghimehfar will focus on five key goals:

  1. Identify key factors contributing to the adaptative capacity of communities pursuing rural tourism and develop recommendations for enhancing these factors.
  2. Understand how these communities respond to changes and challenges, such as the climate emergency and aging populations.
  3. Assess tourism’s positive and negative economic, social and environmental impacts in rural BC.
  4.  Evaluate current tourism planning and development policies and strategies in rural BC communities and develop recommendations for improving these policies and strategies to enhance resiliency and adaptation capacity.
  5. Identify best practices for enhancing the resilience of BC communities pursuing rural tourism and develop guidelines for implementing these practices in other rural regions of BC.

He will use his findings to inform decision making at the local level and influence provincial policies that impact rural communities. The research that he produces will directly align with the priorities in rural areas to support them in developing strategies are relevant, impactful and forward-thinking.

The BC Regional Innovation in Tourism and Sustainable Rural Development is funded through an endowment that was originally established in 2008 by the BC Leading Edge Endowment Fund with matching funding from Real Estate Foundation of BC and the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District. Innovate BC has since taken over the administration of the BC Regional Innovation Chairs throughout the province.

“BC’s rural regions are important economic drivers for the provincial economy, and VIU is delighted to have Dr. Moghimehfar take on this role in the province to support resilience in rural areas through tourism,” said Dr. Nicole Vaugeois, Associate Vice-President of Scholarship, Research and Creative Activity. “BC’s rural and remote communities have faced significant challenges over the past decade and Moghimehfar will provide a critical role to undertake research that provides decision makers with evident to inform their decision making."

Moghimehfar's appointment “will help to advance our efforts to address key challenges and opportunities for tourism across rural BC communities,” said Dr. Sungchul Choi, Dean of VIU’s Faculty of Management. “This will also provide excellent opportunities for our students and faculty to collaborate and address the unique needs of rural communities.”

Almost 17,000 tourism businesses operate in BC. Of these, nearly half are outside the Lower Mainland in smaller communities and rural areas. In 2021, the industry generated $13.5 billion in revenue, according to the provincial government.

“By nurturing a dynamic and adaptable rural tourism resiliency plan, I hope to see these communities thrive in the face of evolving challenges and opportunities,” Moghimehfar said.

For more information, visit the British Columbia Regional Innovation Chair website.



Eric Zimmer, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University

P: 250.618.7296 | E: | : @VIUNews

The VIU community acknowledges and thanks the Snuneymuxw, Quw’utsun, Tla’amin, Snaw-naw-as and Qualicum First Nation on whose traditional lands we teach, learn, research, live and share knowledge.

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