Research in Economics, Environs and Society: TREES



In the early 1980s, Prof Gert Scholtz started a research entity called the Institute for Leisure Studies. He was director until Prof Melville Saayman took over in 1995 and changed the name to the Institute for Tourism and Leisure Studies. In the early 2000s, the National Research Foundation (NRF) put out a call for the establishment of research entities, and this led to the birth of the first tourism niche research entity called SEIT (Socio-Economic Impact of Tourism), after which the name was changed to TREES (Tourism Research in Economics, Environs and Society).

In 2015, TREES became a research unit. With tourism growing in importance in the country, we are becoming more relevant every year, and our research focus is also in line with the goals and objectives of the National Department of Tourism; especially by focusing on economic, environmental and community (society) issues. In 2019, Prof Elmarie Slabbert was appointed as the Research Director.

TREES has a strong team consisting of 17 primary researchers, two secondary researchers, 7 Extraordinary Professors and two Post-Doctoral Fellows. Seven researchers hold National Research Foundation (NRF) ratings, indicating recognised researchers by the international research community. All our researchers have PhD degrees and collectively work towards our ultimate vision, which is to become a centre of excellence.




OUR VISION is to become an internationally recognised centre of excellence in tourism research in economics, environs and society.

OUR MISSION is to conduct and publish quality tourism research within economic environs and societies, thereby contributing to:

  • Improving the quality of life of communities;
  • Addressing relevant and current societal issues;
  • Expanding the knowledge (cutting edge research: new and innovative) base;
  • The tourism industry in general;
  • Developing skilled researchers and post-graduate students; and
  • Improving the international position of the research entity.






    • Quality;
    • Ethically sound;
    • Honesty;
    • Respectability;
    • Integrity and
    • Scientific vigour.