The SSAG Centenary award recognises and invests in emerging researchers and academics in geography in South Africa. Dr Giddy was selected from a very high standard of applicants, which bodes well for the future of the discipline of geography in the country.
“I’d like to thank the committee for the their efforts in assessing the applications for this award. As a geographer in South Africa for the past 10 years, it is really exciting to be recognised by the society for the work that I am doing,” says Dr Giddy.
She explains that the research project for which the award will be used, aims to assess and promote engagement with national parks, conservation spaces and nature-based tourism, broadly, among South African youth.
“The purpose of this is to not only promote domestic tourism spending, but, in addition, the continued funding of conservation spaces is highly dependent on this source of income. It is also important that young South Africans see the value in these spaces in order to sustain their future. This topic is of particular significance at the moment in time, as it can also be a means of encouraging domestic tourism,” she adds.
“The more specific objectives are to determine levels of engagement among this demographic, their perceptions towards these spaces and assess the potential for increased future engagement with these spaces. The end goal is to promote local domestic tourism in the future, which is highly dependent on nature-based tourism.”
Dr Giddy's proposed research has become increasingly important as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which necessitated a bigger push towards the domestic tourism market.
"Furthermore, the non-white leisure tourism market is incredibly under researched, particularly in the sub-sector of nature-based tourism. This research, therefore, seeks to better understand the demands of this emerging market as well as their perceptions of and engagement with nature-based tourism, especially as a result of increased domestic tourism caused by the pandemic,” she says.
Dr Giddy was also recently honoured with a National Research Foundation (NRF) award at the 2020 UMP Research and Engagement Awards. She was awarded for her research that focuses on human-environment interaction in the tourism sector. Her research background is relatively diverse which represents both her varied research interests as well as the highly interdisciplinary nature of her work.
She says: “As 2020 was my first full year of employment at UMP it was very exciting to see my research recognised so soon into my tenure at the university. It also gave me a boost during a very tough year to continue to pursue my research and to open up new avenues for research, particularly in the local context.”
Her advice to aspiring postgraduates and scholars is to work on solid, innovative research and to submit to top journals early in their careers. Often their PhD is some of the best research they will produce, as they have the time to put all their energy towards one project.
“Don’t be afraid to aim high when it comes to the submission of this work! I always recommend that early career researchers seek out as many networking opportunities as possible."
@ Story and Pictures by Cleopatra Makhaga.