Business & Economy

UWF hospitality professor Dr. Andrew Holdnak receives excellence in research award

The Resort and Commercial Recreation Association presented its 2015 Excellence in Research Award to Dr. Andrew Holdnak, associate chair of the Department of Hospitality, Recreation and Resort Management at the University of West Florida.

The award recognizes Holdnak’s case study entitled “Comparing 2010 Gulf Oil Spill Estimated Tourism Impacts on Escambia County, Florida, Using Bed Tax Collection Data (Versus STR Data).”

Holdnak says the inclusion of bed tax dollars from non-hotel lodging set his research apart. Most included only STR data, a benchmark of hotel performance that excludes other lodging options such as condominiums and vacation home rentals, which account for more than 50 percent of visitor stays, according to the Florida Vacation Rental Management Association.

“After the oil spill there were many articles written about the economic, environmental and social impacts on our region,” Holdnak said. “What we found was that although the revenue reports were highly correlated, since condo and vacation rentals account for about 27 percent of the bed tax collections in Escambia County, if one estimated lodging losses based only on STR data, the total lodging revenue losses would be underestimated by millions of dollars.”

Andy HoldnakHoldnak believes he was selected for the prestigious award because a large percentage of the RCRA membership come from non-traditional, or non-hotel, lodging operations. These members, he says, are always interested in learning more about how they fit within the overall hospitality world.

The hospitality world of the Emerald Coast is where Holdnak makes his home, teaching students about an industry that is easily accessible.

“I’ve taught at other universities where we would have to drive several hours just to see a tourist destination,” Holdnak said. “Here, many students already have experiences from several properties. At other universities, students read about the impacts of tourism. Here, they live them.”

The associate department chair enjoys staying involved with the research aspect of university academic life, while at the same time being able to tie the data to issues affecting the industry and region.

“On a personal level, it is nice to be noticed, but at the department and university level, it reaffirms our commitment to being of service to the Northwest Florida region,” he shared.