The Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies is a division of the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences
Translating experiences into stories
Andrea Gardi is working in her dream job as the Director of Projects and Operations at Regional Tourism Organization 4 Inc. As part of a dedicated team, Andrea’s goal is to grow tourism in towns and cities around Waterloo, Wellington, Huron and Perth County. Working with destinations like Guelph, Waterloo, Stratford, and Bayfield, she coordinates animation, storytelling and digital/physical hygiene projects that improve visitor experience.
Making a difference in local tourism
Another focus is inspiring visitors to share their stories, which Andrea notes is key to bringing tourists; “we try to get visitors to tell stories from the destination for us….ultimately, people listen to their friends and family - and that’s a really important factor in encouraging people to visit our destinations.” Andrea loves being able to make an impact on the local tourism and share some of the hidden gems in the region, and she’s been successful through combining her expertise in both business and tourism planning.
“My graduate research definitely solidified my career path. This is where I want to be and should be, and it’s also helped to make some important connections as well.”
Andrea knew that coming to an institution that has a reputation as an international leader in recreation and leisure would be the perfect place for her to pursue a Master’s degree. She gained a strong foundation in tourism research through the University of Waterloo and completing her thesis project gave her the confidence to tackle big projects from start to finish. While working at RTO4, Andrea has been able to give back to the university by working with Assistant Professor Karla Boluk to give guest lectures and offer industry feedback to students who are conducting their own field research. Her passion for learning and for tourism has not gone unrecognized, as Andrea was selected for Destination International’s 30 Under 30, a group of young professionals in the industry who have excelled in their work and are viewed as leaders in their field.