Jess Ponting is a leading sustainable surf tourism researcher and consultant. After an early career utilizing community-based tourism for economic and social development in Papua New Guinea, he completed the first Masters and PhD degrees to focus on sustainable surf tourism in 2001 and 2008 respectively. Beginning his academic career in Australia and Indonesia, Jess later taught at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji for three years before taking a faculty position at San Diego State University (SDSU). He helped to pioneer the growing field of surf tourism studies in the early 2000’s and has produced 18 journal articles, 14 books, 6 book chapters, and 35 conference presentations in 13 countries on the topic. He is a tenured Associate Professor in sustainable tourism at San Diego State Univeristy where he founded the Center for Surf Research in 2011 and the International Association of Surfing Academics in 2015. Jess has provided consulting services in 11 countries, worked with multilateral agencies including the UN, the World Bank, the International Trade Center and the Inter-American Development Bank. He has worked with NGOs including Conservation International, scores of surf tourism operators, and advised governments in five countries on sustainable surf tourism.
With former Center for Surf Research intern Carl Kish, in 2013 Jess co-founded the world’s first sustainable tourism certification program to focus specifically on surf and snow resorts, destinations, and events – STOKE Certified. STOKE currently manages 19 members in 8 countries and is growing fast. Also in 2013 Jess co-founded the conference series “Surf Park Summit” which is the world’s premiere trade conference for the surf park industry. His research interests include: the sustainability of surf tourism and the regulation and policy that can support it; the social construction of tourist spaces disembedded from geography and culture; well being benefits from surfing and their utilization; and, ensuring that the emerging surf park industry is developed in a sustainable way.