Heather Gibson, Ph.D.

Professor, Associate Director
Department of Tourism, Hospitality & Event Management,
Eric Friedheim Tourism Institute

  • Ph.D. University of Connecticut, USA
  • M.A. University of Connecticut, USA
  • B.Ed. Brighton Polytechnic, UK

Gibson CV

Contact Info

FLG 190C
P.O. Box 118208
Gainesville, FL 32611-8208
(352) 294-1649 | hgibson@hhp.ufl.edu


Heather J. Gibson, Ph.D., is a Professor in the Department of Tourism, Hospitality & Event Management at the University of Florida. She is a graduate of the University of Connecticut with a PhD in Sport, Leisure and Exercise Science.

Dr. Gibson teaches classes in leisure and tourism theory, sport tourism and research methods. She also leads study abroad programs in Australia and Fiji with a focus on sustainability.

Her research interests include sport tourism (specializing in sport events and active sport tourism), leisure and tourism behavior in mid and later life, women as tourists, including her recent project on Girl Friend Travel, and perceived risk in travel. She has published over 60 academic journal articles and has 20 years of academic research presentations. She has edited two books: Sport Tourism: Concepts and Theories, a collection of original essays on this type of tourism and co-edited Leisure and Aging: Theory and Practice.

She is a Fellow of the Academy of Leisure Sciences and the Academy of Distinguished Teaching Scholars.  In 2014 she was the recipient of the HHP Charles S Williams Service Award. Dr. Gibson is a Managing Editor of Leisure Studies, an Associate Editor for Leisure Sciences and the Journal of Sport and Tourism, an Editorial Board member for the Journal of Sport Management, the Journal of Policy Research in Leisure, Tourism and Events and the World Leisure Journal. She is an ad hoc reviewer for countless journals including Annals of Tourism Research and Tourism Management.

Research Interests

  • Active sport tourism participation in mid and later life – senior games and Bike Florida.
  • The social impacts of event sport tourism on communities.
  • Girl friend getaways – health and wellbeing effects for women.
  • Leisure and travel in retirement.
  • Tourist roles (behavior) during the lifespan with a focus on gender, motivation, risk and thrill seeking.


  • LEI 3830 Principles of Travel and Tourism
  • LEI 4880 Evaluation in Leisure Services
  • LEI 5188 Trends in Leisure Studies
  • LEI 6838 Sport Tourism
  • LEI 6895 Tourism Concepts and Theories
  • LEI 7163 Foundations of Leisure Behavior