Brijesh Thapa, Ph.D.

Department of Tourism, Recreation & Sport Management

  • Ph.D. in Recreation, Parks and Tourism, Pennsylvania State University (2000)
  • M.S. in Recreation, Parks and Tourism, Pennsylvania State University (1996)
  • B.S. in Business Administration, West Liberty University (1994)

Contact Info

FLG 325B
P.O. Box 118208
Gainesville, FL 32611-8208
(352) 294-1656 |


Dr. Brijesh (Brij) Thapa is a Professor in the Department of Tourism, Recreation and Sport Management (TRSM) at the University of Florida (UF). Since 2000, he has served in various academic and administrative capacity at the department, college, and university level: Director for Strategic Initiatives at the UF International Center, Director of the UF Eric Friedheim Tourism Institute, Graduate Programs Coordinator for TRSM, and Academic Coordinator for the Tourism and Recreation Program. In addition, he is an Affiliate Faculty in other UF units: School of Natural Resources & Environment, Warrington College of Business, Center for African Studies, Center for Latin American Studies, Water Institute, Biodiversity Institute, Transportation Research Center, and the Graduate Program in Development Practice.

Overall, his research theme is within the nexus of tourism, conservation and sustainability. In this context, he has explored issues and associated linkages among key stakeholder groups (e.g., visitors, residents, tourism industry, and policy makers) in the U.S. and developing countries. From a U.S. perspective, he has examined specific lines of inquiry related to environmentalism, recreation behavior, planning and management issues at various nature-based settings managed by the state and federal government. Among developing countries, his research has focused on the examination of multiple themes (i.e., visitor experience, conservation finance, governance, community-based conservation, sustainable tourism, etc.) within the context of people, parks and protected areas management. He has conducted and facilitated numerous interdisciplinary projects in the U.S. and globally in various capacities (e.g., research, training, university partnership, graduate student research, etc.) in over thirty countries.
Recently, he has been focused in capacity building and institutional development projects with respect to curriculum development, research, and training in tourism, nature and cultural heritage conservation, and natural resources management. He has received funding from U.S. Federal Agencies such as: Departments of State, Education, Agriculture, and Interior, U.S. Agency for International Development, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Recreation Division), and U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation. Collectively, he has an extensive record of scholarly publications (100+ outputs in journals and book chapters), presentations (200+ international, national, regional, local, and invited), and grant funded activities ($3 million+). He has also supervised and mentored 11 PhD and 21 MS graduate students.

Additionally, he was awarded a U.S. Fulbright Senior Specialist to Nepal, and has also been recognized as UFs International Educator of the Year for his global engagement initiatives. He has been appointed as the Editor-in-Chief for the Journal of Park and Recreation Administration, which is one of the leading journals in the recreation and park discipline for over three decades.

Research Interests

  • People, parks and protected areas management
  • World Heritage Sites and tourism management
  • Tourist behaviors and impacts: socio-cultural, environmental, economic
  • Ecotourism and cultural heritage tourism
  • Tourism, conservation and sustainable development issues in Developing Countries
  • Tourism education and capacity development in Developing Countries


  • LEI 3180 Current Trends in Leisure Services
  • LEI 3301 Principles of Travel and Tourism
  • LEI 3546 Park Management
  • LEI 3836 Hospitality Management
  • LEI 4905 National Outdoor Recreation and Rural Tourism Consortium (Field Course - Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tremont, Tennessee)    
  • LEI 4955 Humans and the Environment (Study Abroad Field Course: New Zealand)
  • LEI 6325 Ecotourism
  • LEI 6839 Heritage Tourism
  • LEI 6931 Tourism and Hospitality Business Perspectives