Skip to main content
Danish Centre for Rural Research - CLF

PhD student Bo Villumsen in the guest corner

That's why Bo decided to do a PhD on "How the tourism industry can collaborate with voluntary organisations on nature and outdoor activities"

Lisette Gatten Olesen,

Why did you become a researcher?

I think it's really exciting to be allowed to investigate how the tourism industry can collaborate with voluntary sports organisations on nature and outdoor activities. The idea is based on the national tourism strategy published in 2016. It states that there is potential for some nature destinations to use voluntary organisations to develop activities for tourism.

Because I have been active in many organisations for many years, I thought it would be interesting to investigate whether voluntary organisations can benefit from tourism. Ringkøbing-Skjern Municipality and Varde Municipality were interested. Both are two major tourism municipalities with a strong association life. A collaboration between a municipality and voluntary organisations could, for example, be in relation to river angling tourism. The local angling associations develop good conditions for the fish and act as ambassadors when tourists come, while the tourism companies provide accommodation, catering, fishing equipment, etc.

What else were you thinking of becoming?

I'm a trained sign painter, but I drew a low number when I was on session, so I became a sailor on Navy ships. While I was there, I took a physical education course where I learnt about physiology and exercise science. It was really exciting to get an insight into how the body adapts to physical activity and how to optimise it through training.

So I quit the Danish Defence and started studying sports and health at SDU. During the programme, I became more interested in the humanistic and societal aspects of sport. After my studies, I have worked with the sports facilities in Varde Municipality.

What question would you most want to find an answer to?

I would like to learn more about cooperation between tourism and organisations. On the one hand, organisations can bring very different resources into play, e.g. a volunteer workforce, knowledge of activities and facilities. On the one hand, organisations can bring different resources to the table, such as a volunteer workforce, knowledge of activities and facilities, while the tourism business can have financial resources, knowledge of marketing, tourists, etc. No one has yet investigated if or how tourism and organisations can create synergies together. But it would be interesting if the two sectors could activate local resources for the benefit of both.

What is the biggest thing that has happened in your field?

Over the past decade, there has been a focus on the potential of voluntary organisations in relation to welfare society tasks such as integration and health, and they have begun to use the voluntary work of organisations for these tasks. The national tourism strategy takes this a step further by bringing voluntary organisations into the business world - the tourism industry.

How do you hope others can benefit from your research?

When I finish the project, I will return to Varde Municipality, where I hope I can contribute and perhaps even raise the already high level. Of course, I also hope that associations, tourism organisations and municipalities can be inspired by the knowledge that comes out of the PhD.

Which other researcher do you admire the most?

I don't have a researcher idol. But I admire my supervisors' ability to be present and supportive in a sometimes frustrating research process.

What is your greatest strength and greatest vice?

Perseverance. When doing research, there can be periods of days where you feel like the project is going nowhere. It's really important to be persistent and not give up. If anyone is interested in my weaknesses, they can ask my wife. She's sure to have a list of them.

What do you do in your spare time?

In addition to my wife, children and house, I am chairman of several associations, including the local skate association in Esbjerg and the national skate sports association, which works to strengthen the sporting aspect of skating. I've been skateboarding for more than 30 years and now it's great to help influence and support the culture that means so much to me.

Editing was completed: 10.03.2020