Jason Swanson
Associate Professor & Director of Undergraduate Studies

Professional Profile

Jason holds a Ph.D. in Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management from North Carolina State University and a Masters of Management in Hospitality from Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration.

At the University of Kentucky, Jason teaches classes on introductory tourism, tourism trends, and has led five Education Abroad programs to France, Panama, Greece, and the United Kingdom.  Jason has also taught strategic tourism planning to Ph.D. students at Assumption University in Bangkok, Thailand for five years.  In 2018, one of his University of Kentucky courses – Transformative Travels:  Exploring Kentucky – was featured as a TV series on PBS-affiliate Kentucky Educational Television (KET).  Jason’s Spring 2019 semester abroad in London with University of Kentucky students is the subject of the series’ second season, expected to debut in early 2021.  As the Ashland Oil Endowed Professor in Human Environmental Sciences, he is working on a new two-year television project that will feature counties within a newly-designated National Heritage Area in Kentucky.

Jason’s research contributions focus on tourism development, having co-authored three editions of the textbook, Tourism Policy and Planning:  Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow, which has been used by graduate and undergraduate students in several countries including Thailand, Iran, New Zealand, and Slovenia.  The book has also been translated into Chinese.  He has also published other research on the topic of transformative travel – how travel experiences affect the traveler – and has an emerging research interest in travel media.

Jason’s research and teaching activities have been enhanced because of his industry involvement including consulting work with VisitLEX, BP (as a tourism subject matter expert following the 2012 oil spill), the National Tour Association, and 4-H Youth Development, among other organizations.  He has received the Patricia Brantley Todd Award of Excellence in HES-Faculty Research Award and the Early Career Outstanding Teacher Award presented by the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment’s Student Council.  He was named to the inaugural class of Southeast Tourism Society’s Forty for the Future, recognizing tourism’s leading talent under the age of 40.

Jason’s professional experience prior to joining the University of Kentucky consists of hotel operations, market/feasibility analysis, hospitality real estate advisory services, and tourism development.  He has worked for consulting clients in the trade association, restaurant, hotel, spa, convention center, marina, golf course, and government sectors in over 50 markets throughout the United States, the Caribbean, and Asia.


Ph.D. North Carolina State University Parks, Recreation and Tourism Managment

M.M. Cornell University Hospitality

B.S. George Mason University Finance

Areas of Interest

Academics, Extension, Research