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Dr. K. Thirumaran

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Dr. K. Thirumaran

Head of Academic Group Business & IT / Senior Lecturer Business


  • PhD - National University of Singapore
  • MA - University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA
  • Graduate Studies - Oxford University, UK
  • Graduate Studies - University of Iowa, USA
  • BSc & MA - Indiana State University, USA

Click here for research interest and publications


Thiru has been with James Cook University since 2008. He is Head of Academic Group for Business and IT. He facilitates and coordinates educational experiences for students across the Business and IT degree programs.

Thiru’s teaching focuses on tourism and hospitality management. He is well-known for engaging and lively classes by undergraduates and graduates alike. Thiru’s courses combine seminar with industry-related field experience, inspiring students to pursue their passions beyond classroom learning. The success of his students mirrors his effective mentoring.  One mentee has established an ecotourism attraction in Kerala, while another has successfully worked his way up several hotel management positions in Vietnam. These are just two among many career progression narratives that reflect his close interactions with students.

His professional and industry background is diverse. He has held positions at Singapore Airlines, American Express Financial Advisors, Iowa State Bank and Trust Company, Informatics Pte. Ltd., Hallmark Aviation Services, Delgro Comfort Pte. Ltd.’s former subsidiary, Singapore Sightseeing Tour East Pte Ltd., and Marriott Dining Services. He believes in infusing industry practices and skills-based-knowledge into student learning, and welcomes businesses to engage JCUS students in research projects, professional internships, and field study. Recently his students attended in-house talks and visited five multinational companies with Shared Service Centers. For more on the outcomes of this excursion please see: Klimkiert D. & Thirumaran, K. eds. (2018). Managing Shared Service Centers: Examples from Singapore & Malaysia. Munich: Grin Publishing.

His research interests are varied, but Thiru’s core specializations reside in service excellence, cultural and luxury tourism. He is co-chair of World Luxury Destinations 2018, an academic and industry conference to be held in Bangkok. He volunteers his time as an editorial board member for Asia Tourism Research Journal, and Journal of Tropical Psychology among others. He has published over 24 academic articles and welcomes collaborations from scholars and Ph.D. students from the field of tourism and hospitality.

Thiru coined the term ‘affinity tourism.’ Affinity tourism refers to the propensity of guests to partake of ‘familiar’ and ‘similar’ cultural experiences to those of their hosts. Please see Thirumaran, K. (2009). “Renewing bonds in an age of Asian travel: Indian tourists in Bali,” in Tim Winter, Peggy Teo and T.C. Chang, eds. Asia on Tour, p.127-137. New York: Routledge.

An avid debater during his school days, Thiru organizes the annual campus debate competition for students.  Aside from his academic pursuits, he enjoys swimming, bowling, and dragon boating.