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Master's Thesis with the Promise of a PhD

Originally from Greece, Aikaterini Kandylidou is now a student in the Master's programme 'Experience Economy: Hospitality and Tourism Management'. Recently, she applied for an international conference in Spain with her Master's thesis abstract, and it was accepted. Here are her memories and impressions of the conference.

Back in December at HSE University St Petersburg, we had a visit by Carlos Fernandes, a Portuguese professor from Viana do Castelo. At one of his lectures, he suggested that I participate in an international conference in Santiago de Compostela, about religious and pilgrimage tourism, which is the main subject of my future thesis.

I completed the application almost immediately. I had to write an abstract of my future paper which I planned to present at the conference. With the help of my thesis supervisor, Valery Gordin, I described the purpose of the paper, the main stages to be studied/researched, the methodological tools and the literature research which I had already done. I also needed to write about the limitations of my research and its relevance. Last but not least, I needed to include the main key words from my research and 3 to 5 references. I then sent my application off and waited eagerly for an answer.


After some months, they accepted my abstract and invited me to participate in the conference. I was required to submit the paper and a presentation in advance. The paper needed to be 3,000 words (around 20 pages) and fit the structure of an article in the International journal of religious tourism and pilgrimage. 

The title of my paper was ‘Strategic seasonality through religious and pilgrimage tourism in Greece’. I began by explaining the problem of seasonality in Greece and at the same time, I compare the country with other Mediterranean countries by showing graphs with the numbers of tourists. I include some definitions that exist in literature about religious tourism and pilgrimage and I describe some similarities and differences. I then answer the question as to why certain types of tourism could improve the tourism seasonality in my country. 

One of the most important chapters of my paper was my web analysis for which I collected specific data from Trip Advisor and from Yandex in order to build my argument regarding how the Russian market can help Greece to reduce its seasonality in specific tourism areas. I used SPSS to collect this data and I made some important conclusions. 
I also created a map of Greece with the religious sites which are most visited by Russians tourists. Finally, I did a comparative analysis of Russian monasteries that work with tourists all year round and identified some best practices which could improve the Greek monastic reality. After writing my paper, I put together a presentation and I sent it to the conference committee. They then sent me confirmation of my participation and I began to plan my trip.

At the conference, everything was well-organized and the participants were very interesting, as were their papers. I presented on the second day of the conference. Everything went well and I even received the award for the youngest researcher, which was a pleasant surprise to me. They also invited me to another conference which will be held in Belgrade, Serbia in October. I will definitely try to be ready to participate in this conference also.

To conclude, it was very interesting and important for me to experience the conference. I learnt a lot about the main subject of my future thesis. I also learnt how to present a paper to a big audience. Furthermore, I met people that are specialists in their fields and was able to network. My future plans include not only writing my thesis, but also doing PhD research in cultural tourism and hospitality.