28 January 2015


Professor of Geography, Central Connecticut State University, USA; Chair, International Garden Tourism Network

How Gardens are Making a Difference in the World of Tourism

Dr. Richard W. Benfield teaches Human Geography, Russia, The European Union and many of the courses in the department’s Tourism track. Prior to coming to Central he was Senior Program Coordinator in the Division of Continuing Education at the University of Oklahoma where he instructed citizens of the new Russian Federation on privatization and the transition to a market economy. He obtained his doctorate in geography from the University of Oklahoma in 1998.

Prior to commencing his teaching career at the University of Oklahoma, he was Vice-President of Marketing at Whistler Ski resort, Canada, home of the 2010 Winter Olympics; Executive Director of the Banff-Lake Louise Chamber of Commerce and a tourism marketing executive with the Government of Alberta.

His current research interests are in biogeography and particularly garden tourism, and the use of tourism as a conservation tool through the great botanic gardens of the world. He has also published extensively and spoken widely on the geography of Floriculture. As part of his research he has travelled in over 115 countries and seen the botanic gardens and other private gardens in just about all of them. In 2010 he traveled to the gardens of South Africa, the Middle East, China and the Valley of Flowers, India where he researched the intersection of garden tourism and conservation. He is a much sought after speaker from Botanic Garden Conservation International conferences to local garden clubs. His book Garden Tourism was published in 2013 by CABI Press Abingdon, England.