The Richardson Family SmartState Center of Economic Excellence in Tourism and Economic Development was established in 2010 with a specific goal to encourage research directly applicable to tourism in South Carolina.
Dr. David Cardenas was invited to deliver a feature presentation at the 2015 Ecotourism and Sustainability Conference in Quito, Ecuador held from April 27th-30th, 2015. The conference was sponsored by the International Ecotourism Society (Ties) who leads the efforts to make tourism a viable tool for conservation, protection of bio-cultural diversity, and sustainable community development. This conference aims to promote ecotourism and sustainable tourism globally. Dr. Cardenas was among a distinguished group of academics and industry experts who were asked to present. Dr. Cardenas presented a riveting talk titled, "A stakeholder Approach to Sustainable Place Branding: It Comes from the Heart." His presentation demonstrated his true passion for sustainable tourism development and he used his experience from his work with the Center team on the branding of Bluffton, South Carolina project to demonstrate the adoption of sustainable tourism practice in destination the branding development process.