The master’s student will present nutrition-based research to global leaders in travel, tourism and hospitality.

A University of Johannesburg (UJ) master’s in tourism and hospitality student has been chosen to present her ongoing research at the World Tourism Forum’s (WTF’s) Young Talent Programme in Switzerland in April.

Gifty Koufie’s research focuses on the efficacy of nutrition-based applications, investigating their ability to influence lifestyle changes in the hospitality industry, specifically restaurants.  Her sample group for this research was limited to people between the ages of 25 and 40 with access to mobile devices, across Johannesburg. 

The 28-year-old from Ghana told Wits Vuvuzela that she had always had an interest in nutrition, which was rekindled when she met her supervisor Dr Hema Kesa, who had set up the Food Evolution Research Laboratory at UJ. 

“With obesity and chronic non-communicable diseases on the rise, I believe communication on nutrition is important to me,” said Koufie.

The theme for the 2021 festival is “Moving forward” and the WTF’s Maria Adrianzen told Wits Vuvuzela that, “[WTF] believes the future belongs to those who can innovate, adapt and remain agile. There has never been a more important time for our community to come together to restart the global economy and create a more resilient, healthy and sustainable world.”

The Young Talent Programme is open to students across the globe who are working on bachelor’s or master’s dissertations in the field of hospitality and tourism. Koufie will be participating in the diversity category which aims to create a global network where academics, government ministers, leaders and young talents in the travel industry can solve problems for a sustainable future. 

She told Wits Vuvuzela that because of the role that restaurants play in the hospitality industry, they can influence nutrition-related choices of patrons.

“In this regard, I perceive the hospitality sector as an ideal ecosystem for collaborative experiments with nutrition-related technology companies in introducing new experiences that emphasise healthy eating habits,” said Koufie. 

She stands a chance to launch a professional career in collaboration with the WTF, through which she will receive mentoring. 

“Researchers have a natural interest in keeping abreast of developments and trends within the tourism industry, therefore it is very important to us to invite them to attend the Innovation Festival and contribute to the dialogue,” Adrianzen said.

FEATURED PHOTO: UJ researcher Gifty Koufie is waiting for confirmation of her travel plans to Switzerland in April. PHOTO: Provided.