Svetlana Stepchenkova, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Tourism, Recreation & Sport Management Associate Director, Eric Friedheim Tourism Institute

Ph.D. in Hospitality and Tourism Management, Purdue University
M.S. in Hospitality and Tourism Management, Purdue University
B.S. in Applied Mathematics, Moscow State University

Curriculum Vitae

Office: FLG 312
Address: P.O. Box 118208, Gainesville, FL 32611-8208
Contact: (352) 294-1652


Svetlana Stepchenkova, Ph.D. is an associate professor at the Department of Tourism, Recreation, and Sport Management at the University of Florida. The area of her research interests is destination management, marketing, and branding, with the focus on quantitative assessment of destination image and brand communications using unstructured and qualitative data. She is especially interested in influence of media messages on image formation, and destination image as a factor in explaining destination choice. Svetlana also studies applications of information technologies in travel and tourism, particularly virtual travel communities, destination websites, and user-generated content as a means of obtaining a competitive advantage.

In 2010-2013, Svetlana coordinated efforts of the UF team within the framework of the international project “Capacity Building Partnership to Improve Tourism Education, Research, and Industry Outreach: University of Florida, USA and the State University of Nizhni Novgorod, Russian Federation.” The project was funded (US$400,000) by the U.S. Department of Education, Funds for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education (FIPSE), with the matching funds provided by the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation. The activities focused on curriculum development, course delivery, student mobility programs, faculty training programs, seminars to disseminate best practices, and collaborative research initiatives. Currently, Svetlana is leading another project which is focused on mobility programs in university administration and tourism education and is sponsored by the State University of Nizhni Novgorod.

Svetlana publishes her research in internationally renowned academic journals. She presents her work at the national and international conferences, reviews for highly acclaimed academic journals, advises students from various countries, and serves her profession at various associations with the global outreach. In 2013, Svetlana was awarded HHP College International Educator of the Year distinction.

Research Interests

  • Destination image as a competitive factor in destination management, marketing, and branding
  • Computer-assisted analysis of qualitative data. Methodologies for statistical analysis of textual and pictorial data
  • Effects of media messages and user-generated content on tourism behavior and destination demand
  • Websites and online communities as a marketing tool for Destination Marketing Organizations
  • Cultural issues in tourism research


  • LEI 3836 Hospitality Management
  • HLP 6515 Evaluation Procedures
  • HLP 6535 Research Methods