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John Tribe
Eugeni Aguilo: Economics, Univ de las Islas Baleares, Spain
Professor of Tourism Jong-yun Ahn: Public Admin., Hanyang Univ, R. Korea
University of Surrey Julio R Aramberri: Sociology, Drexel Univ, USA
Guildford Irena Ateljevic: Socio-cultural geography, Wageningen University, The Netherlands
René Baretje: Economics, CIRET, France
GU2 7XH Susanne Becken: Environment, Lincoln University, New Zealand
United Kingdom Bill Bramwell: Geography, Sheffield Hallam Univ, UK
Ralf Buckley: Ecology, Griffith Univ, Australia
Email: Kenneth Button: Economics, George Mason Univ, USA
Christine Buzinde: Cultural Studies, Pennsylvania State Univ, USA
FOUNDING EDITOR Joseph S Chen: Leisure, Indiana Univ-Bloomington, USA
Jafar Jafari Sidney Cheung: Anthropology, Chinese Univ of Hong Kong, China
Michael Clancy: Political Science, Univ of Hartford, USA
Web: Malcolm Cooper: Urban/Regionals, Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific Univ, Japan
Peter U C Dieke: Tourism, George Mason Univ, USA
ASSOCIATE EDITORS Kadir H Din: Environment, Univ Utara Malaysia, Malaysia
• Anthropology David A Dittman: Accounting, Cornell Univ, USA
Sara Dolnicar: Marketing, University of Wollongong, Australia
Nelson H H Graburn: Univ of California-Berkeley, USA Larry Dwyer: Economics, Univ of New South Wales, Australia
Dennison Nash: Univ of Connecticut, USA William R Eadington: Economics, Univ of Nevada-Reno, USA
• Economics and Management Science Christopher Endy: History, California State Univ-Los Angeles, USA
Josef A Mazanec: Vienna Univ Austria Eduardo Fayos-Sola: Economics, Univ of Valencia, Spain
Alan Fyall: Marketing, Bournemouth Univ, UK
Abraham Pizam: Univ of Central Florida, USA Vasiliki Galani-Moutafi: Anthropology, Univ of the Aegean, Greece
• Geography William C Gartner: Resource Economics, Univ of Minnesota, USA
John Coshall: London Metropolitan Univ, UK Charles R Goeldner: Marketing, Univ of Colorado-Boulder, USA
Anton F Gosar: Geography, Univ of Ljubljana, Slovenia
• History Rodrigo Grünewald: Anthropology, Univ of Campina Grande, Brazil
Auvo A Kostiainen: Univ of Turku, Finland Dogan Gursoy: Hospitality/Tourism, Washington State Univ, USA
• Hospitality Jan Vidar Haukeland: Sociology, Inst. of Transport Economics, Norway
C. Michael Hall: Social Science, Univ of Canterbury, New Zealand
Kaye Chon: Hong Kong Polytechnic Univ, China Andrew Holden: Environment, University of Bedfordshire, UK
• Information Technology Tzung-Cheng Huan: Outdoor Recreation, National Chiayi Univ, Taiwan
Ulrike Gretzel: Texas A&M Univ, USA Jens Kr Steen Jacobsen: Sociology, Univ of Stavanger, Norway
Tazim Jamal: Management, Texas A&M Univ, USA
• Leisure/Recreation Myriam Jansen-Verbeke: Geography, Leuven Univ, Belgium
Cara Aitchison: University of Bedfordshire, UK Carson L Jenkins: Economics, Univ of Strathclyde, UK
Geoffrey Wall: Univ of Waterloo, Canada Lee Jolliffe: Museum, Univ of New Brunswick, Canada
• Political Science Maria Kousis: Sociology, Univ of Crete, Greece
Metin Kozak: Tourism, Mugla University, Turkey
Linda K Richter: Kansas State Univ, USA Neil Leiper: Southern Cross Univ, Australia
• Psychology Christine Lim: Economics, Univ of Waikato, New Zealand
Philip L Pearce: Psychology, James Cook Univ, Australia Dean MacCannell: Applied Behavior Sciences, Univ of California-Davis, USA
Yoel Mansfeld: Geography, Univ of Haifa, Israel
Regina G Schlüter: Univ Nacional de Quilmes, Argentina Darya Maoz: Anthropology, The Centre for Academic Studies, Or Yehuda,
• Regional Planning Israel
Douglas C Pearce: Victoria Univ of Wellington, New Zealand Jerome L McElroy: Economics, Saint Mary’s College, USA
Bob McKercher: Tourism, HongKong Polytechnic Univ, China
• Sociology Marc L Miller: Anthropology, Univ of Washington, USA
Erik Cohen: The Hebrew Univ of Jerusalem, Israel Chaim Noy: Communications, Israel
David H Harrison: Univ of the South Pacific, Suva, Fiji Islands Lars Olov Nyberg: Geography, Mid Sweden Univ, Sweden
Fevzi Okumus: Management, Univ of Central Florida, USA
FIELD EDITORS James Petrick: Texas A&M University, USA
John J Pigram: Geography, Univ of New England, Australia
Antonios Andronikou: Former Director General, Cyprus Antonio Russo: Geography, Univ Rovira i Virgili, Tarragona, Spain
Tourism Organization, Cyprus Oriol Pi-Sunyer: Anthropology, Univ of Massachusetts, USA
Alexander Anolik: President, International Forum of Travel Richard Prentice: Tourism Marketing, Univ of Strathclyde, UK
and Tourism Advocates, USA Greg Richards: Geography, Univ Rovirai Virgili, Spain
Lou D’Amore: President, International Institute for Peace Michael Riley: Sociology, Univ of Surrey, UK
Melville Saayman: Recreation, Potchefstroom Univ, South Africa
through Tourism, USA Noel Salazar: Anthropology, University of Leuven, Belgium
Francesco Frangialli: Secretary-General, World Tourism Carla A Santos: Mass Communication, Univ of Illinois, USA
Organization, Spain Pauline J Sheldon: Economics, Univ of Hawaii, USA
Victor S Kachanov: Vice President, Central Council for Ercan Sirakaya-Turk: Sustainable Development,
The University of South Carolina, USA
Tourism and Excursions, Russia Egon Smeral: Economics, Institute of Economic Research, Austria
Walter Leu: Executive Director, European Travel Commission, Ginger Smith: Communication, George Washington Univ, USA
Belgium Valene L Smith: Anthropology, California State Univ-Chico, USA
Geoffrey H Lipman: Former President, World Travel and Trevor Sofield: Anthropology, Murdoch Univ, Australia
Victor B Teye: Geography, Arizona State Univ, USA
Tourism Council, UK Paris Tsartas: Sociology, Univ of the Agean, Greece
Bengt Pihlstrom: Former Director, Finnish Tourist Board, Finland Hazel Tucker: Social Anthropology, University of Otago, New Zealand
Tom Selanniemi: Chairman, Aurinkomatkat-Suntours, Finland Muzaffer Uysal: Recreation, Virginia Tech, USA
Salah E A Wahab: President, Tourismplan, Egypt Soile Veijola: Sociology, Univ of Lapland, Finland
Boris Vukonic: Economics, Faculty of Economics, Croatia
COMMENTARY EDITOR Gordon Waitt: Geography, Univ of Wollongong, Australia
Doug Walker: Economics, College of Charleston, USA
Margaret B Swain: Anthropology, Univ of California-Davis, USA Ning Wang: Sociology, Zhongshan Univ, China
Paul F Wilkinson: Geography, York Univ, Canada
REPORT EDITORS Allan M Williams: Geography, London Metropolitan Univ, UK
Juergen Gnoth*: Marketing, Univ of Otago, New Zealand Shinji Yamashita: Anthropology, Univ of Tokyo, Japan
Russell A Smith*: Planning, Nanyang Tech. Univ., Singapore Jorge Zamora: Consumer Studies, Univ of Talca, Chile

Stephen L J Smith*: Recreation, Univ of Waterloo, Canada


Honggen Xiao: Linguistics, Hong Kong Polytechnic University,

*Department Head and Associate Editor

Editors represent various disciplines in order to ensure both strength and balance in Annals’ multidisciplinary approach to the study
of tourism. Annals Language Bank (Editors): Afrikaans, Arabic, Catalan, Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish,
Ghanian, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Norwegian, Persian, Polish,
Portugese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovene, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish.
Annals of Tourism Research, Vol. 36, No. 3, pp. 373–389, 2009
0160-7383/$ - see front matter Ó 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Printed in Great Britain

Influence of Market Ethics
Andrew Holden
University of Bedfordshire, England

Abstract: Society is at a critical juncture in its relationship with the natural environment, a
relationship in which tourism has growing significance. Yet, twenty years after the Brundtland
Report, environmental policy has to date had little influence upon the workings of the tour-
ism market, the supply and demand elements of which determine the ‘use’ or ‘non-use’ of
nature. Inherent to the market is its environmental ethic, that is, the extent of our recogni-
tion of nature’s rights to existence. The thesis of this article is that whilst environmental
policy may possibly have a greater influence in the future, it is the environmental ethics
of the market that will be deterministic to the balance of the tourism-environment
relationship. Keywords: environmental ethics, environmental economics, sustainable tour-
ism. Ó 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

The literature on tourism’s impacts upon the natural environment is
well-established (e.g., Mishan 1969; Mathieson and Wall 1982; Hunter
and Green 1995; Mieczkowski 1995; Holden 2008) and it is not the
intention to reiterate its negative and positive consequences. The rapid
growth in demand for international tourism during the second half of
the last century has lent a global spatial dimension to these impacts.
For example, impacts of tourism on the natural environment of Antarc-
tica have been observed (Hall and Wouters 1994; Hall and Johnston
1995), whilst the contribution of aviation to Greenhouse Gas (GHG)
emissions has become an issue of economic and environmental debate.
In the context of the society-environment relationship, which is at a
critical juncture for deciding the extent that human activity is permit-
ted to alter patterns of nature, our behavior and attitudes towards the
natural environment will subsequently also influence the tourism-envi-
ronment nexus. A lexicon of terms depicting environmental problems,
including global warming, ozone depletion, bio-diversity loss, species
extinction, and ecosystem degradation are now interwoven into the

Andrew Holden is Professor of Environment and Tourism and Director for the Centre for
Research into the Environment and Sustainable Tourism (CREST) at the University of
Bedfordshire (Putteridge Bury, Luton, LU2 8LE, England. Email: <andrew.holden@beds.>). His research interests include environmental ethics; sustainable tourism develop-
ment; poverty alleviation; and the tourist behavior/natural environment interface.

374 A. Holden / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 373–389

discourse of global society. Scientific evidence suggests that these

changes are a consequence of human activity rather than natural pro-
cesses (Stern 2006; IPCC 2007). Significantly, these changes in the nat-
ural environment also present a threat to the ‘‘ecosystem services’’
upon which our well-being depends (Millennium Ecosystem Assess-
ment 2005).
These ecosystem services include: ‘‘provisioning services’’ for exam-
ple, food and water; ‘‘regulating services’’ for example, climate and
flood control; ‘‘cultural services’’ that offer recreational, aesthetic
and spiritual benefits; and ‘‘supporting services’’, for example, photo-
synthesis and nutrient recycling (ibid.). Evidently the raison d’être of
tourism is closely linked with cultural services but it is ultimately depen-
dent upon the other ecosystem services, that is, recreational benefit is
less likely to be obtained if there is a reduction in the quality of
provisioning, regulating and supporting services. Subsequently, the
tourism-environment relationship can be understood as being recipro-
cal, tourism influencing environmental well-being which in turn im-
pacts upon the characteristics and quality of tourism. The predicted
numerical and spatial growth of tourism, the United Nations World
Tourism Organization (UNWTO 2007) forecast an increase in interna-
tional tourism arrivals from a current level of approximately 800 mil-
lion per annum to 1.6 billion per annum by 2020, implies that
tourism will have an increasing global significance as a user of natural
resources in the future.
Tourism’s relationship with the natural environment is made com-
plex through the involvement of a diversity of stakeholders, the vari-
ance of the spatial dimension of its activities, a lack of clear
definition of key conceptual themes, and the subsequent difficulties
of the systematic planning of its development. For example, whilst
most stakeholders in tourism would probably agree that ‘‘sustainable
tourism development’’ is a desirable goal, the variety of interpretations
of what it actually is, typically lends it a reductionist approach, limited
to isolated examples of environmental initiatives and improvements
undertaken by tour operators, hotel groups or destinations. This
shared observation of the limitations of sustainable tourism leads Saari-
nen (2006:1133) to ask: ‘‘Are the present local solutions to global chal-
lenges enough, and do they represent all that tourism can do?’’
Thus, twenty years after the publication of the Brundtland Report
(WCED 1987), the subsequent advocating of sustainable tourism by
international agencies including the United Nations World Tourism
Organization (UNWTO), United Nations Environment Program
(UNEP), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organi-
zation (UNESCO), the European Union (EU), and the World Develop-
ment Bank, the extent to which tourism’s relationship with the natural
environment has ‘‘improved’’, however we choose to conceptualize
and measure it, is debatable and contentious.
With reference to a list of rhetorical questions concerning the suc-
cess of the mitigation of the negative environmental impacts of mass
tourism, including; whether the majority of hotels and other tourism
companies had now adopted environmental management systems; nat-
A. Holden / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 373–389 375

ural resource usage had been minimized and the treatment of effluent
is common practice; the hundreds of millions of tourists traveling
around the world had an awareness of the impacts of their consump-
tion patterns and behavior, a senior representative of the UNWTO
comments: ‘‘It would certainly be naive to pretend to give a purely po-
sitive answer to all these questions. . . Progress towards sustainable
development of tourism is hardly satisfactory while sustainable prac-
tices are restricted to a few niche markets, with the rest of the tourism
industry keeping its priorities clearly on profit rather than sustainabil-
ity’’ (Younis 2003:13).
It is subsequently argued that environmental and sustainable tourism
policy has had relatively little influence on the workings of the tourism
market, the main mechanism for deciding how the natural environ-
ment and resources will be used for tourism. Subsequently, when con-
sidering the future of the tourism-environment relationship, it is
necessary to observe the dynamics of the market, the workings of which
will be critical in determining the balance of a symbiotic or destructive
tourism-environment relationship.


Markets act as the key global mechanism for resource allocation,
bringing together buyers and sellers, giving voice to people’s values
that reflect their preferences (Pearce, Markandya and Barbier 1988).
The basis of the supply and demand functions of the market is that
they generate order to the wider social system through the establish-
ment of an equilibrium price, which acts as a type of rationing mech-
anism (Heilbroner and Thurow 1998). However, the use of price as
the tool of a rationing mechanism is problematic when no market ex-
ists for a good or service, as is the case for some of the services provided
by the natural environment, their consequent ‘‘zero price’’ making
them vulnerable to over-use and exhaustion. These problems are likely
to be accentuated where resources display characteristics of open-ac-
cess, that is, a lack of ownership and regulation, which at a global level
has traditionally included the atmosphere, oceans outside territorial
waters, and the stratosphere (Pearce 1995). Examples of such resource
over-use in the context of tourism include the emission of aircraft pol-
lution into the atmosphere; hotels pumping sewage into the sea; and
the mining of coral reefs for building materials.
Efforts are being made to address this lack of market for environ-
mental services, most pressingly in relation to carbon emissions and
associated global warming, a problem in which aviation has increasing
significance. Typically this takes the form of the establishment of car-
bon trading schemes, for example, the EU Emission Trading Scheme
(ETS) for CO2 that started in 2005, the aim of which is to help member
states to meet their Kyoto obligations and progress towards low-carbon
economies (European Union 2005). The EU ETS represents the larg-
est existing company-level scheme for trading in CO2 emissions,
encompassing all 25 member states (ibid.). The second stage of the
376 A. Holden / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 373–389

EU ETS (2008–2012) has direct implications for tourism, with the

intention to include emissions from all aircraft departing from EU air-
ports within the scheme. In this case, through governmental co-opera-
tion to agree limits for carbon emissions, the atmosphere has
effectively been turned from an open-access resource to a global com-
mon property resource, that is, defined by Pearce (1995) as possessing
an ownership structure. However, as Pearce et al (1989) noted twenty
years ago, even if markets for environmental services are eventually
generated, there is no guarantee this can be achieved before they
are extinguished or irreparably damaged.
Attempts can also be made to economically cost negative externali-
ties and to integrate them into the market system through environmen-
tal taxation in line with the ‘‘Polluter Pays Principle’’ (PPP). Yet, to
date aviation fuel has remained largely exempt from most fuel taxes
(Gössling, Broderick, Upham, Ceron, Dubois, Peeters and Strasdas
2007), despite producing per passenger kilometer more CO2 than
any other form of transport (Dubois and Ceron 2006). Nor has inter-
national aviation been included in the Kyoto Protocol or emissions
incorporated into national GHG inventories (Gössling et al 2007).
Whilst the total contribution of aviation to GHG emissions is a topic
of contentious political debate, for example the International Air
Transport Association (IATA 2007) suggests it is 2 per cent whilst Gös-
sling and Peeters (2007) estimate it to be between 3.4 to 6.8 per cent,
there is little dispute about the increasing demand for air transport.
Associated with this growth in demand will be increased pollution,
even allowing for the continued technological improvements in the
environmental performance of aviation. The quantity of CO2 pollution
from aircraft is expected to double by 2025 to between 1.2 billion to 1.4
billion tonnes (Adam 2007), whilst scientific calculations indicate that
the emissions from air travel into the upper troposphere and lower
atmosphere have a larger impact upon warming than the level of
CO2 emissions would suggest (Stern 2006).
Other attempts at internalizing the negative externalities of tour-
ism’s environmental impacts are noticeable by their absence, not least
because of the difficulties of disassociating tourism impacts from other
anthropogenic causes and inherent spatial discontinuities (Hunter and
Green 1995; Mieczkowski 1995). One exception is the case of the Bale-
aric Islands in the Mediterranean, the government of which imple-
mented an eco-tax on tourists in 2002 at a rate of one Euro per
night, with the aim of funding environmental improvements including
heritage conservation and the protection of land for national parks.
However, following the election of the centre-right Popular Party a year
later in 2003, the tax was rescinded, much to the delight of foreign tour
operators and the Balearic’s business community, the majority of
whom were opposed to the scheme (Templeton 2003). This opposition
was founded upon reduced demand following the imposition of the
tax caused by tourists choosing to visit competing destinations offering
a more competitive price.
An alternative approach to mitigate tourism’s negative environmen-
tal impacts is to attempt to control demand as an objective of policy, in
A. Holden / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 373–389 377

essence a type of rationing of the resource. Two main approaches may

be used to achieve this, ‘‘price control’’ and ‘‘quota’’ control measures.
Price control measures rely upon fixing a higher price for resource use
than that determined by market equilibrium, subsequently reducing
demand. A quota control system places a restriction of access on tour-
ism stakeholders to natural resources. An example of this approach is
the tourism policy of Bhutan, which limits the permitted number of
tourists to a maximum of 20000 per annum, all of whom have to pay
a fee of US$ 200 per day during their stay. Out of this sum the govern-
ment is allocated US$ 65 per day, whilst the limited number of
government approved tour operators use the remainder to provide
services for the tourists and make a profit (Brunet, Bauer, De Lacy
and Tshering 2001; Dalrymple 2008).
However, the use of price or quota control measures to restrict access
of usage is usually reliant upon government interference in the market
place. Given the neo-liberal emphasis of contemporary political econ-
omy, such interference may be regarded as politically inappropriate,
as was the case in the Balearics. The case of the Balearics also illustrates
the price elasticity of mass tourism demand, implying that if market val-
ues do in fact represent people’s preferences of how to maximize util-
ity, there would seem to be little concern over the impacts of tourism
on the environment.
However, the ability of markets to be able to accurately reflect the
plurality of nature’s values in a meaningful way, to permit an individual
to make a fully informed and purposive choice between the alternative
uses of scarce resources is questionable. As Holmes (1988) observes,
nature carries a range of values alongside the economic, including a
life-support value; re-creational value; scientific value; aesthetic value;
genetic-diversity value; historical value; and life value. A concept that
has been developed in ecological economics in an attempt to reflect
the importance of nature in fulfilling a wide range of human needs
is ‘‘natural capital’’. The concept emphasizes biophysical and geophys-
ical process and their outcomes, for example, fish in the sea, oil in the
ground, in the context of their relationship to human needs over time
(Butcher, 2006). In an early reference to natural capital, Pearce et al
(1989:42) suggests that the maintenance of the services of the natural
environment is essential for the sustaining of economic livelihoods.
Yet, two decades later, difficulties still exist in translating the worth
of natural capital into market values (Butcher 2006). Nevertheless,
the concept has relevance as a signifier of the reliance of development
and well-being upon nature.
Even if it should prove possible in the future to establish markets for
the services provided by nature for society, the ‘use’ of nature remains
an ethical question as much as one of economic efficiency. As Holland
and Cox (1992:25) comment in the context of the natural environ-
ment: ‘‘An important contribution which the philosopher has to make
is to remind us that society must decide what is right, before deciding
what is efficient’’. Implicit to this statement is our collective environ-
mental ethic and the ‘‘rights’’ of nature, which Holland and Cox
(ibid.) argue are not subjective and sacrificial, as is the case for ‘‘eco-
378 A. Holden / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 373–389

nomic value’’. Hence, it is argued that in an attempt to understand the

relationship between tourism and nature, it is necessary to clarify the
ethical basis of society’s relationship with the environment.


In the view of Nash (1989), the idea that the human-nature relation-
ship should be treated as a moral issue represents one of the most
extraordinary developments in recent intellectual history, having po-
tential future implications for thought and behavior comparable to
that of the ideal of human rights at the time of democratic revolution
in the eighteenth century. Similarly, to emphasize the significance of
what he believes to be the beginning of a contemporary ‘‘moral
change’’ in attitudes to global warming, Attenborough (2007) makes
a comparison to the ethical shift in how slavery was perceived 200 years
ago. He suggests that it will be very difficult to impose limits on peo-
ple’s behavior, such as the freedom to fly, without individuals possess-
ing a stronger environmental ethic.
Although the need to consider our ethical relationship with nature is
a contemporary issue, concerns over the effects of industrial develop-
ment upon nature were already being expressed in the 19th century
by notable social theorists, for example, Henry Thoreau and John Ru-
skin. However, it was Aldo Leopold (1949) who overtly expressed the
human-nature relationship in the context of ethics. In his concept of
the ‘‘land ethic’’, he comments (1949:219): ‘‘In short, a land ethic
changes the role of Homo Sapiens from conqueror of the land-com-
munity to plain member and citizen of it. It implies respect for his fel-
low-members, and also respect for the community as such.’’
This concept of a land-community has synergy and resonance with
indigenous belief systems and practices. That genealogies should exist
beyond the human to incorporate the non-human, making humans
part of the landscape rather than separate from it, is common to many
indigenous cultures (Whitt, Roberts, Norman and Grieves 2001). Sub-
sequently, it is argued that the spirituality of the non-human world, re-
flected in practices such as animism and shamanism, purports to a
more caring attitude towards nature than is inherent to humanism.
Yet, the extent of the bio-centrism often attributed to indigenous cul-
tures is contentious. According to Fennell (2008) this perspective is
based upon little empirical evidence, whilst Pepper (1996) notes that
counter-views exist to the First Nation Peoples of North America living
as part of an extended community of animals and humans. Inherent to
this counter-position, are accounts of the over-culling of animals; the
discovery of palaeo-biologists of extensive forest and fauna devastation
by indigenous peoples before European contact; and the perspective
that the principal rationale for stewardship was based upon a technical
vis-à-vis moral rationale (Pepper 1996; Fennell 2008).
Included in the concerns of Leopold (1949) was the role of the travel
trade, which he viewed as promoting access to nature in bulk, conse-
quently reducing the opportunities for solitude (Hollinshead 1990).
However, despite the recent growth in considered literature on ethics
A. Holden / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 373–389 379

and tourism, for example, Butcher (2003), Fennell (2006), Fennell

and Malloy (2007), Hall and Brown (2006), Smith and Duffy (2003),
Yaman and Gurel (2006), Lovelock (2008), the balance of ethical
concerns remains weighted towards the anthropocentric. Nevertheless,
both Holden (2003) and Macbeth (2005) recognize the importance of
environmental ethics to the tourism-environment relationship. Holden
(ibid.) stresses the need for a non-rationalized approach to valuing
nature from tourism stakeholders, whilst Macbeth (2005) emphasizes
the requirement for tourism policy makers, and it may be added all
stakeholders, to have a reflexive understanding of ethical issues of
the environment in practice.
Despite the limited development of a conceptual framework for envi-
ronmental ethics relevant to tourism, the growth in philosophical
thinking about the moral standing of nature during the last four dec-
ades, has led to a large array of diverse views (Booth 1998). However,
thematic perspectives can be recognized, categorized by their extent
of the recognition of the ‘‘rights’’ of nature to an existence.
‘‘Instrumentalism’’ views nature as having no rights to existence,
subsequently determining that human impacts upon nature are unwor-
thy of consideration beyond their potential harm to the interests of
other humans, a position supported by a Cartesian philosophy that
stresses our moral superiority to other beings (Nash 1989). Whilst,
the non-recognition of the rights of nature to an existence is an ex-
treme interpretation of anthropocentrism, a belief in our moral supe-
riority over nature provides a rationale for the prioritization of
economic growth over conservation. Examples of this philosophy in
practice includes General Franco’s policy for tourism development in
Spain, the Plan Nacional de Estabilization of 1959, which held an
inherent creed of ‘‘crecimiento al cualquier precio’’ or ‘‘growth at any
price’’. Similarly, the development of Cancun in Mexico from a village
housing 12 Maya families in the 1970s to a resort receiving 2.6 million
visitors per annum, in the process causing the destruction of rainfor-
ests and mangroves, the filling of lagoons, and the leveling of sand
dunes (Lynas 2003). is representative of an instrumental approach to
tourism development.
The converse ethical position to instrumentalism is ‘‘libertarian
extension’’, in which all sentient and non-sentient beings right ‘to
be’ is recognized, independent of any value bestowed on them by
humankind. Important to the rationale of this thinking is the work
of Stone (1972) who drew attention to the rights and legal status of sen-
tient and non-sentient being’s in his seminal ‘‘Should Trees Have
Standing?’’ He comments (1972:450): ‘‘It is not inevitable, nor is it
wise, that natural objects should have no rights to seek redress on their
own behalf. It is no answer to say that streams and forests cannot have
standing because streams and forests cannot speak.’’
The application of this latter ethic as the rationale for environmental
law could have dramatic implications for tourism development, chal-
lenging an established legal system that is centered upon human
rights. The concept of ‘‘Wild law’’ or ‘Earth jurisprudence’ recognizes
the rights of an ‘‘Earth community’’, in which humans as part of that
380 A. Holden / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 373–389

community cannot ignore the rights of the rest of it (Thornton 2007).

Under this law for example, a hotel owner could be sued on behalf of
the diversity of species belonging to a coral reef, whose habitat was
being destroyed by sewage emitted from the hotel. If the species of
the coral reef won, the hotel would have to find other means to dispose
of the sewage, as the right to existence would be paramount.
The middle ground between ‘‘instrumentalism’’ and ‘‘libertarian
extension’’ is occupied by the ‘‘conservation’’ ethic, which recognizes
our reliance upon nature and values nature for our own well-being. In
the view of Vardy and Grosch (1999) this is the diktat of society’s moral
reasoning about nature; the conservation ethic being central to envi-
ronmental policy as exemplified in the Brundtland Report’s (WCED
1987) advocating of natural resource conservation for the benefit of
future generations. Similarly, Holden (2003) suggests that the conser-
vation ethic represents the moral reasoning of most tourism stakehold-
ers, as demonstrated by the then World Tourism Organization’s (WTO
2001) ‘‘Global Code of Ethics for Tourism’’ (GCET), Article 3 of which
states: ‘‘All the stakeholders in tourism development should safeguard
the natural environment with a view to achieving sound, continuous
and sustainable economic growth satisfying equitably the needs and
aspirations of future generations’’ (WTO 2001:3).
However, judging by the marginal improvements in the tourism-envi-
ronment relationship (Lynas 2003) and the reductionist approach to
sustainable tourism (Saarinen 2006) during the last two decades, it is
suggested that environmental policy has to date had relatively little ef-
fect on the workings of the tourism market. Nevertheless, an evident
trend is for some tourism suppliers to demonstrate a commitment to
environmental conservation and protection. A significant innovation
is ‘‘corporate social responsibility’’ (CSR), the motivation for which
is uncertain, but would seem to represent a combination of environ-
mental altruism, a need for market competitiveness and a medium to
long term business strategy. According to the UNEP (2005:8) the
advantages of CSR for tourism suppliers are, it: ‘‘can have significant
business advantages for a company, in terms of its cost savings, market
share, reputation and preservation of its main business assets—the
places and cultures their clients are willing to pay to visit’’.
To this list can be added that CSR or the adoption of other environ-
mental management practices for example, environmental auditing
and codes of conduct, demonstrate an attempt at voluntary environ-
mental regulation, which may be influential in counteracting moves to-
wards government regulation of the industry. For example in Europe,
members of the European Parliament have called upon the tourism
industry to ‘‘face up to its responsibilities’’, pointing out that consum-
ers are becoming increasingly aware of ethical issues and expected
assurances over worker exploitation, environmental impacts and chil-
dren’s rights (Searle 2005). An increased ethical awareness is also re-
flected in industry advertising, for instance, a European low-cost
airline in its own in-flight magazine stressed its environmental creden-
tials about its fuel efficiency and the quietness of its aircraft under the
A. Holden / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 373–389 381

title: ‘‘Do you care about the environment? So do we’’ (EasyJet

Conversely it can be asked, ‘‘What if we didn’t? Would you?’’ There
would appear to be a presumption within some tourism organizations
that consumers are interested in their environmental credentials as this
influences buying behavior. Whilst this may be true to varying degrees
in markets for other goods and services, what evidence is there of a
strong enough environmental ethic in the tourism market to influence
demand? Although Poon (1993) had observed the emergence of ‘‘new
tourism’’ and ‘‘new tourists’’ by the early 1990s, an implicit character-
istic of which was environmental concern, sustainable practices still re-
main the preserve of market niches (Younis 2003). The environmental
conviction of these market niches has also been questioned, for exam-
ple ‘‘ecotourism’’ has been criticized as a sham by Wheeller (1993,
2005), referring to it instead as ‘‘egotourism’’ with the potential to
have similar negative causal effects as mass tourism.
Existing empirical evidence to support or disprove a strengthening
environmental ethic within the tourism market is limited and some-
times contradictory. A comprehensive environmental attitudinal survey
of 1192 households in the United Kingdom found that although four
out of five households believed that climate change will affect them,
and the same number believed that climate change was already having
an effect, only 22 per cent were willing to fly less, defined as flying to
one holiday destination rather than two per annum (Energy Saving
Trust, 2007). Based upon their willingness to forego personal benefits
for the sake of the environment, it was the second most unpopular
statement out of five statements presented to the interviewees, the first
being a willingness not to purchase a plasma television to protect the
environment to which only 21 per cent responded positively. In com-
parison, 73 per cent were willing to: ‘‘Stop leaving the tap running
when brushing teeth’’; 56 per cent were willing to: ‘‘Give up driving
when able to walk’’; and 52 per cent were willing to: ‘‘Cook more local
produce’’ (ibid.). Further in-depth analysis was not conducted to un-
cover the reasons that lay behind these responses, nor was the existing
level of awareness of the contribution of aircraft emissions to global
warming ascertained.
It is observable from the responses to the statements, that there
seems to be a propensity for a higher degree of reluctance to relin-
quish activities associated with pleasure than other types. Similarly, Bec-
ken (2007) found reluctance from tourists to take voluntary initiatives
and be pro-active to address the global impact of air-travel. Based upon
focus group meetings with 32 tourists in New Zealand, she found that a
low level of awareness of air travel’s contribution to climate change ex-
isted, and that the mitigation of negative impacts was viewed to be the
responsibility of governments and organizations vis-à-vis the individual.
Conversely Asthana and McKie (2005) suggest that there are a
growing number of concerned individuals who are turning away from
international flights. However, the comments of interviewees indicate a
divergence of opinion over who has responsibility for taking action to
reduce the demand for flying. For example, one interviewee replied:
382 A. Holden / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 373–389

‘‘With the government (author’s note: United Kingdom) planning to

triple aviation in the next 30 years, the only thing you can do is to take
individual action’’; whilst another commented: ‘‘Flights are now unre-
alistically cheap. It makes it difficult for people to say no to them. The
government should take that decision away from people’’. Implicit to
these two contradictory statements is that whilst individual action is
necessary, the attractiveness of flying may be too strong, making coer-
cion from government necessary to reduce demand.
Research undertaken by Chesshyre (2005) into the motivations of
women for participating in ‘‘responsible tourism’’ also provides a ri-
cher understanding of attitudes and behavior towards the natural envi-
ronment. The results reveal a level of culpability about flying, being
viewed as a type of behavior that is discordant with the respondents’
usually environmentally conscious lifestyles. Comments included:
‘‘I’ve always been quite conscientious about my impact upon the envi-
ronment’’; ‘‘I fly a lot and that makes me feel guilty’’; and ‘‘We’re plan-
ning to go to Australia next year, but I use a carbon-neutralizing
scheme to offset the emission charge’’ (Chesshyre 2005:4). The extent
to which these travelers would be willing to deny themselves the plea-
sures of tourism for protection of the natural environment was less
clear. The only direct reference to foregoing tourism was made by
one respondent who commented: ‘‘The only way to preserve things
is not to go there at all. But you have to draw the line between com-
plete restraint and enjoying something. It should be about having a
minimal impact’’ (ibid.). A common approach of the sample was to tra-
vel but to attempt to minimize their negative impacts, for example
through using less environmentally damaging modes of transport
where feasible or contributing to carbon off-setting schemes, whilst
simultaneously maximizing their economic contributions to local
Ethical concern over the impacts of flying has also been displayed by
the founders of two of the best-selling guide books series for indepen-
dent travelers, the ‘‘Rough Guide’’ and the ‘‘Lonely Planet Series’’,
which collectively sell 6 million copies per annum (Barkham 2006).
Reflecting on concern over ‘‘casual flying’’, Mark Ellingham the foun-
der of the ‘‘Rough Guide’’, comments: ‘‘We’ve got a responsibility to
make people aware of the information about climate change so people
have a less casual attitude towards flying. We want to show that two
companies who are direct rivals feel this is an issue important enough
to coordinate and cooperate on’’ (Barkham 2006:3). Ellingham com-
pares tourism to the tobacco industry in the sense of the denial of its
true impacts by the industry, notably the effects carbon emissions from
flying are having on global warming. In new editions of the guides,
warnings about the impacts of flying on global warming will appear. Be-
side a demonstration of environmental culpability, the ethical stance is
notable in representing a combined approach of two market competi-
tors towards a universal benefit. Alongside providing information on
less environmentally damaging travel options to air travel where possi-
ble, other suggested behavioral changes to reduce negative environ-
A. Holden / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 373–389 383

mental impacts include flying less but staying longer in destinations,

and the donation of money to carbon offsetting schemes.
However, although carbon off-setting may go someway to assuaging
environmental guilt, such schemes have received a number of criti-
cisms, including: varying calculations by different organizations of
the amount of CO2 emitted by the same flights; up to 40 percent of
the donations being used to cover administrative and salary costs; peo-
ple in developing countries being forcibly removed from their land for
the cultivation of new forests; the planting of non-native trees in mono-
culture plantations causing ecosystem disturbance; and that trees only
absorb CO2 when they are living, subsequently releasing it when they
die or are burnt (Gössling et al 2007; Robbins 2006). At present carbon
off-setting is in an embryonic stage of usage by the tourism industry
and tourists as Gössling et al (2007:241) comment: ‘‘Voluntary com-
pensation is still far from firmly rooted in the tourism industry and
amongst tourists’’.
Whilst flying has global environmental implications, the ethical
behavior of tourists at a local level will also be influential in shaping
the tourism-environment relationship, as the impacts of tourism are
typically associated with the cumulative effects of visitation. Whether
they are consciously aware of it or not, each person has ethical posi-
tions which guide their decision-making on moral issues (Macbeth
2005), and their subsequent actions. As one tourist commented on a
nature-based experience to Kilimanjaro; ‘‘I went on a trek up Kilimanj-
aro in Tanzania, and what struck me was the amount of rubbish there.
We were expressly told not to leave any rubbish, and yet people did. I
was disgusted that people didn’t listen. You feel that you put the effort
in—why can’t everyone else do the same?’’ (Chesshyre 2005:4). The
implication of this statement is that a similar environmental ethic is
not shared by all the tourists, even those who may be viewed as partic-
ipating in types of tourism that could be construed as being environ-
mentally centered. This observation is supported by research
undertaken by Zografos and Allcroft (2007) into the environmental
values and attitudes held by people thought of as ecotourists because
of a propensity to visit areas of natural beauty. They discovered that
there were high levels of variance between the tourists based upon
parameters relating to attitudes and action towards nature; support
for species equality; level of concern for the earth and its limits; and
a belief in the level of human skills and development to deal with envi-
ronmental problems.
The influence of an environmental ethic on behavior and impacts
in situ can be demonstrated through the example of visitor to a forest,
who recognizing the intrinsic value of the nature and wildlife avoids
making unnecessary noise out of respect for other sentient beings,
even when it is certain there are no other people around. In contrast,
the visitor who places little value on wilderness beyond its anthropo-
centric benefits, may decline from unnecessary noise or disturbance
if other humans are present but may otherwise feel at liberty to make
as much noise as they wish, provided it does not interfere with the
enjoyment of others. Emphasis in the latter case is placed upon duty
384 A. Holden / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 373–389

to other humans whilst in the former it is placed upon duty to all sen-
tient beings.

Given the expanding spatial boundaries of tourism and its environ-
mental impacts, it represents a significant agent for change in the con-
text of society’s relationship with nature. Its impacts which have
traditionally been focused upon at a destination and regional level,
are now understood to have consequence on a global scale, notably
as an outcome of aviation’s contribution to GHG emissions. The neg-
ative externalities of the effects of resultant global warming not only
threatens the livelihoods of many people, particularly the poor of
developing countries, but also the well-being of eco-systems and the
continued existence of many species of flora and fauna. It is argued
that there is a strong propensity for tourism and aviation to be a focus
of ethical debate as society seeks to re-evaluate its position relative to
Accepting capitalism as the dominant economic ideology; the mar-
ket system will have a central role in the representation of the ethical
and economic values of nature. The market is given higher advocacy
through the forces of neo-liberalism, which favor the minimization of
government interference in it. For example, the strong opposition
from the tourism industry to the Balearic government’s attempt to im-
pose an eco-tax, illustrates the challenges governments may face to ac-
tion that is perceived to reduce market competitiveness for the benefit
of the natural environment.
Subsequently, it is suggested that the interaction between the indus-
try and the consumer will be the defining relationship in deciding the
outcomes of the interaction between tourism and the natural environ-
ment. The strength of the market’s environmental ethic; the willing-
ness of stakeholders to trade-off individual benefit for the greater
environmental good, will be instrumental in deciding the extent of
tourism’s impacts upon nature. In a system that encourages individual-
ity, consumption and freedom of choice, symbolized by the right to tra-
vel for recreational purposes, a move towards what may be regarded as
a more ascetic lifestyle will pose a major challenge.
Tensions over the loss of personal benefit or utility as a consequence
of a stronger environmental ethic are evident in the demand for flying.
Whilst there is research (Becken 2007; Energy Saving Trust 2007) that
suggests a reluctance to voluntarily reduce participation in flying, there
is also evidence (Asthana and McKie 2007) of the beginning of a shift
away from its use for recreational purposes. If aviation becomes a major
source of GHG emissions, and the level of public debate over the ethics
of flying increases, it is not inconceivable that the increase of demand
for flying experienced over the last 50 years may begin to reverse. Un-
likely as this may seem at present, using the analogy of the tobacco
industry, the knowledge of the harmful effects of a particular activity
can lead to behavioral changes. Whilst, the tourist who is willing to
A. Holden / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 373–389 385

fly less presently represents a minority, changes in market behavior are

likely to be incremental and progressive rather than sudden.
However, the ability of technological innovation to mitigate negative
impacts in the face of increasing consumer demand is debatable. For
example in the case of the aviation industry, even if a non-carbon jet
fuel became commercially viable, there can be no assurance that it
would not have unforeseen long-term negative environmental or eco-
nomic consequences. For instance, the cultivation of maize for ethanol
production to use as a bio-fuel is a contributory factor to increasing
grain prices, having implications for the future of world food consump-
tion(Vidal 2007). Nor would the use of non-carbon aviation fuel ad-
dress problems of noise and local air pollution, or land-use and
ecosystem changes, which characterize airport development.
It is optimistic to expect that an approach reliant upon technological
innovation and improved management will provide the solutions to
environmental problems resulting from tourism. Whilst technological
advancement has a key role to play in the creation of a more balanced
society-environment relationship, critically important is the behavior of
individuals and governments in combination with science. For exam-
ple, it was through a partnership of government action to limit chloro-
fluorocarbon (CFC) use, chemical companies’ innovation to find an
environmentally benign alternative to CFCs, and a consumer boycott
of CFC emitting products for example, aerosols, that the growth of
the hole in the ozone layer has been arrested.
However, this partnership of government policy, industrial innova-
tion, and change in consumer behavior has not yet been witnessed
in the tourism market. Rather, the relationship between the tourism
industry, tourists and governments is at cross-roads of confusing signals
that may or may not imply change. Nevertheless, whilst the principle of
carpe diem may remain attractive to some, tourism cannot exist in a void
of connectivity with the changing dynamics of the wider society-envi-
ronment relationship.
The effects of changes in this relationship are beginning to filter into
the tourism market. Notably, it would seem that the days of tourism
being free from constraints of global environmental policy are limited.
Aviation will be affected by its inclusion in the follow-up agreement to
Kyoto, as it will by its inclusion in the next stage of the EU’s ETS agree-
ment. Tourism businesses will also eventually be subject to carbon trad-
ing schemes and have to look to reduce GHG emissions in line with
agreed quota systems. At an individual level, it is not inconceivable that
in the future we will have personal carbon allowances, limiting our
opportunities to travel without the incursion of extra cost.
Nevertheless, environmental policy takes time to be implemented,
whilst in the meantime market forces will continue to determine pat-
terns of tourism development. It is suggested that the conservation
ethic has established itself in the market and that there is an embryonic
progression towards a stronger sense of duty to nature. If an environ-
mental ethic founded upon the intrinsic right of nature ‘‘to be’’,
should become established in the consumer market in the future, then
tourism is likely to be different. The desire to travel long distances will
386 A. Holden / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 373–389

be constrained by our duty to nature, our behavior in natural environ-

ments will be more orientated to reducing negative impacts than at
present, and sentient and non-sentient beings will have legal rights
to representation and redress when their interests are threatened by
tourism development. As unlikely as perhaps this seems at present,
the thoughts of John Stuart Mill quoted by Nash (1989:8) are apposite:
‘‘every great movement must experience three stages: ridicule, discus-
sion, adoption’’.

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Submitted 23 November 2007. Resubmitted 1 June 2008. Final Version 26 August 2008.
Accepted 5 October 2008. Refereed anonymously. Coordinating Editor: Kadir Din

Available online at

Annals of Tourism Research, Vol. 36, No. 3, pp. 413–438, 2009
0160-7383/$ - see front matter Ó 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Printed in Great Britain


Paul Williams
American University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
Geoffrey N. Soutar
University of Western Australia, Australia

Abstract: The growth in demand for adventure tourism has been significant in recent years.
This study applied an existing marketing framework and empirically examined the relation-
ships between value, satisfaction, and behavioural intentions in an adventure tourism context.
Four hundred and two respondents provided their perceptions of the value for an adventure
tour in Australia. Customer value was conceptualised as a multidimensional construct and
indeed three value dimensions had strong, positive influences on customer satisfaction and
behavioural intentions in an adventure tourism setting. Value-for-money was prominent,
but also emotional value and novelty value were also significant predictors of satisfaction
and future intentions. The present study suggests that researchers should take a broader,
holistic view of value in a tourism context. Keywords: customer value, satisfaction, intentions,
adventure tourism. Ó 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Adventure tourism has grown significantly in recent years, becoming
a major niche within the special interest tourism sector, and is said to
be the fastest growing outdoor tourism market sector, with an esti-
mated annual growth of fifteen percent (Buckley 2007; Travel Industry
Association 2005; Cater 2005; Burak 1998). Indeed, approximately a
half of American adults (98 million) took an adventure vacation in
the last five years of the twentieth century (Tsui 2000) and a quarter
of the European package tour market options have an adventure travel
context (Keeling 2003). While statistics vary due to the diversity of
adventure consumption, it appears adventure travel’s growth is signifi-
cant and likely to continue.
Most adventure research has been undertaken in the leisure sci-
ence, adventure education and adventure recreation fields (see for
example: Hall and Weiler 1992; Ewert and Hollenhorst 1989; Ewert
and Shultis 1997). In recent years, there have also been a number

Paul Williams is an Associate Professor of Marketing at the School of Business and

Management, American University of Sharjah, (University City, Sharjah, United Arab
Emirates, E-mail: <>). His main research interests are the links between
quality, value, and customer satisfaction in the services sector, in particular the tourism
industry. Geoffrey Soutar is Professor of Marketing at the University of Western Australia,
Crawley, Western Australia, Australia. Geoff has research interests include the marketing of
services, especially educational services, the marketing of technology, the role of design in
marketing, and service quality management.

414 P. Williams, G.N. Soutar / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 413–438

of notable research contributions specific to adventure tourism (see

for example: Buckley 2007; Page, Bentley and Walker 2005; Swar-
brooke, Beard, Leckie and Pomfret 2003; Weber 2001; Sung, Morri-
son and O’Leary 1997). To date, however, there have been few, if
any, research studies into the behaviour patterns of adventure tour-
ists. What are the needs, wants and expectations of adventure tour-
ists? What do they want from their adventure experiences? What
motivates them? How often do they want to undertake such experi-
ences? What gives them satisfaction? What makes them come back
for more? What are the marketing implications of adventure tourism?
The present study was an attempt to answer some of these questions
and used a recognised services marketing framework to examine the
relationships between adventure tourists’ perceptions of value, satis-
faction and future intentions.
From a services marketing perspective, customer value is a critical
element in consumers’ consumption and decision making behaviour
(Zeithaml 1988; Bolton and Drew 1991; Sweeney, Soutar and Johnson
1999). However, it has received considerably less attention than service
quality or satisfaction (Woodruff 1997). While customer value research
has emerged as a broad and dynamic body of knowledge (Woodruff
1997), much of the research to-date has focussed on consumer retail
products (e.g. Bolton and Drew 1991; Dodds, Monroe and Grewal
1991; Chang and Wildt 1994; Sweeney et al 1999; Jayanti and Ghosh
1996). In these situations, a utilitarian perspective of customer value
has been accepted, as value is measured as a trade-off between benefits
and sacrifices, (Zeithaml 1988; Dodds et al 1991). The current study,
however, had a services focus, in which perceptions of value differ
due to the risk and uncertainty consumers face when considering ser-
vices (Murray and Schlacter 1990; Zeithaml 1981; Petrick 2002). Con-
sequently, a multidimensional customer value framework, which
included utilitarian and socio-psychological perspectives (Sheth, New-
man and Gross 1991; Sweeney and Soutar 2001; Woodruff 1997), was
used to capture the complexity of adventure tourism experiences.
The study recognised the importance of customer value from a services
marketing perspective and examined the construct in an adventure
tourism context.


The Nature of Adventure Tourism
A number of research studies have investigated the rapidly growing
adventure tourism domain. More specifically, research has focussed
on adventure tourism definitions (Weber 2001; Sung et al 1997; Hall
and Weiler 1992); the structure of the adventure tourism industry
(Buckley 2007; Hudson 2002; Davis, Banks, Valentine and Cuthill
1997; Beedie 2003; Swarbrooke et al 2003; Cloutier 2003); the impacts
of adventure tourism on the environment (Williams and Soutar 2005;
Ewert and Jamieson 2003; Tabata 1992; Cloke and Perkins 1998) and
P. Williams, G.N. Soutar / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 413–438 415

the health and safety of adventure tourists (Page et al 2005; Wilks and
Page 2003; Bentley and Page 2001). While many conclusions can be
drawn from these studies, they have tended to ignore the ‘tourism con-
sumption’ dimension, which includes consumers being away from a
home environment, often paying a commercial operator to guide the
tour and providing specialised equipment (Buckley 2007; Buckley
Similarly, little empirical research has examined the relationships be-
tween value, satisfaction and behavioural intentions in tourism con-
texts (Baker and Crompton 2000). In tourism, like most other
services, the consumption experience is complicated by intangibility,
dynamism and subjectivity (Botterill and Crompton 1996; Jayanti and
Ghosh 1996). Tourism consumption experiences include a complex
mix of functional, objective and tangible components (e.g., travelling,
eating, drinking, and recreating), as well as subjective, hedonic, emo-
tional and symbolic components (e.g., enjoying an experience, laugh-
ing, socialising and having fun). Several studies have researched the
heterogeneous nature of tourism consumption experiences (Ryan
1997; Botterill and Crompton 1996; Urry 1990), but there is a lack of
understanding about the nature of these experiences or their relation-
ship with marketing constructs, such as service quality, customer value
or satisfaction.
Adventure tourism consumers tend to be young, educated, affluent,
active thrill seekers who spend significant sums of money in their pur-
suit of adventure (Swarbrooke et al 2003; Tsui 2000; Christiansen
1990). Adventure travelers are often demanding and discerning con-
sumers while on holiday, and often travel to some of the most re-
mote, extreme environments of the world to satisfy their needs for
emotional highs, risk, challenge, excitement, and novelty (Zuckerman
1994; Christiansen 1990; Bello and Etzel 1985; Crompton 1979). A
better understanding of the socio-psychological dimensions of such
consumption would help marketers target such consumers more
From an industry perspective, many new adventure destinations
and tourism products have evolved to serve the discerning needs of
adventure consumers. For example, Bentley Page and Laird (2003)
found there were more than 400 adventure tourism operators in
New Zealand and that 11% of visitors to the country used these
adventure products. For example, Queenstown, New Zealand, mar-
kets itself as the ‘‘Adventure Capital of the World’’ and has a diverse
range of adventure products to tempt travelers (Buckley 2007; Cloke
and Perkins 1998). The area’s most famous adventure product is the
‘‘awesome foursome’’ which includes white-water rafting the rapids
on the Shotover River, jet boating through narrow gorges, a helicop-
ter ride and the Hackett bungee jump into a 134 meter deep canyon
(Cloke and Perkins 1998). Adventure tourists can also go sky-diving,
jet boating, white-water rafting, parasailing, four-wheel driving, scu-
ba-diving and mountain biking in some of the most distant places
on the planet.
416 P. Williams, G.N. Soutar / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 413–438

Towards a Multidimensional Perspective of Customer Value

Traditional value research has taken a functional, utilitarian view with
the value construct measured as the net ratio of benefits to costs (Cra-
vens, Holland, Lamb and Moncrieff 1988; Dodds 1991; Dodds et al
1991; Sinha and DeSarbo 1998; Sweeney et al 1999). For this notion
of ‘‘value’’, a buyer and seller infer value if the benefits received are
greater than what is given up. In other words, both parties feel they
are better off because each receives something more useful to him or
her than what he or she has relinquished (Sinha and DeSarbo 1998).
It has been argued that the utilitarian functional perspective of the value
construct is one of the most salient determinants of purchase intentions
and repeat purchase behavior (Chang and Wildt 1994; Zeithaml 1988).
A multidimensional value perspective is often considered more
appropriate in services contexts (Zeithaml 1988; Sheth et al 1991; De
Ruyter, Wetzels, and Bloemer 1997; Sweeney and Soutar 2001; Petrick
2002) as the sociological and psychological aspects of consumption are
more important because of the interaction between producers and
consumers, and the heterogeneous nature of the service experience
(Holbrook 1994). As noted earlier, in many services contexts, value
perceptions differ from those made for goods, due to the greater risk
and uncertainty (Murray and Schlacter 1990; Zeithaml 1981). A func-
tional value perspective may be too simplistic for such consumption
experiences (Schechter 1984; Bolton and Drew 1991; Baker and
Crompton 2000).
Recently, tourism researchers have begun to address the need for a
multidimensional value perspective and have examined its relationship
with other post-consumption constructs, such as satisfaction and behav-
ioral intentions (Murphy, Pritchard and Smith 2000; Petrick 2002; Oh
2003; Gallarza and Saura 2006). Thus, Gallarza and Saura (2006) used
an eight-dimensional value framework, initially developed by Holbrook
(1994) (efficiency, excellence, status, esteem, play, aesthetics, ethics
and spirituality), to form a three dimensional construct. They found
weak or insignificant relationships and acknowledged there were
operationalization difficulties with some of the categories. Sánchez,
Callarisa, Rodrı́guez, and Molineret (2006) also developed a multi-
dimensional value scale for use in a tourism context (GLOVAL) but,
to date, their study has not been replicated.
Given these issues, it is clear more tourism context information is
needed and the present paper used the PERVAL framework developed
by Sweeney and Soutar (2001) to measure customer value in such a
context. PERVAL was adapted from Sheth et al (1991) model and
has been applied to different consumer products. However, it has
not previously been used in a tourism context. The PERVAL
framework has a functional value component (functional value and va-
lue for money), but also includes other value dimensions (social value,
epistemic value and emotional value).

Functional Value. Functional value is defined as the ‘‘perceived utility

acquired from an alternative’s capacity for functional, utilitarian or
P. Williams, G.N. Soutar / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 413–438 417

physical performance’’ (Sheth et al 1991:160) and is seen as a pri-

mary driver of consumer choice. It is often conceptualized as the va-
lue received for the price paid or as value for money (Zeithaml,
1988; Dodds et al 1991; Bolton and Drew 1991; Holbrook 1994;
Woodruff 1997). Common functional value attributes include quality,
reliability, durability and price. In tourism, the number of attractions
seen, the on-time performance of a tour, seat comfort, price and
safety record may all influence functional value perceptions. In
adventure tourism operations, functional value is important because
of safety issues and the planning needed to minimize risk (Williams
and Soutar 2005). Tour operators can offer functional value through
convenience, contacts, speed, efficiency and administrative help
(Christiansen 1990).

Emotional Value. Emotional value is a social-psychological dimension

that is dependent on a product’s ability to arouse feelings or affective
states (Sheth et al 1991). Emotional responses are likely in adventure
tourism experiences and contribute a large, but often ignored, portion
of the explained variance in satisfaction evaluations (Otto and Ritchie
1996). In adventure tourism experiences, the emotions that precede
and lead to the emotional highs of exhilaration and excitement are of-
ten fear, hesitation and apprehension. Emotional value is, thus, likely to
be a key factor in the consumption of adventure.

Social Value. Social value has been defined as the ‘‘perceived utility
acquired from an alternative’s association with one or more specific so-
cial groups’’ (Sheth et al 1991:161). Choices involving highly visible
products (e.g. clothing, jewelry) and goods or services shared with oth-
ers (e.g. gifts, products used in entertaining) are often driven by social
value. In tourism, factors such as interactions between people on a
tour, the relationship between passengers and the tour guide and
the individual recognition or prestige obtained from undertaking the
trip may create social value. Social value may be strong in small group
tours, similar to the ‘‘communitas’’ and bonding of river rafting partic-
ipants highlighted by Arnould and Price (1993).
Epistemic Value. While epistemic value (novelty value) was not initially
included in the PERVAL framework, it is a key component of the adven-
ture tourism experience as it includes the novelty of the activity and the
destination (Hall and Weiler 1992). Epistemic value is created when a
product arouses curiosity, provides novelty and/or satisfies a desire for
knowledge (Sheth et al 1991). In tourism, novelty and seeking new
knowledge are significant motives for adventure travel (Weber 2001;
Walle 1997; Crompton 1979; Bello and Etzel 1985). Epistemic value is
a key factor in many adventure tourism products due to tourists’
desire for exploratory, novelty seeking and variety seeking behavior
(Zuckerman 1994). Tour operators need to change and adapt their
product to create new and novel experiences for tourists to ensure they
obtain epistemic value. Epistemic value was included in the present study
because of its potential importance in an adventure tourism context.
418 P. Williams, G.N. Soutar / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 413–438

Customer Value, Satisfaction and Behavioural Intentions

Customer Value. Early studies into customer value focused on the
retailing sector, generally measuring pre-purchase value perceptions
and their links with purchase decisions or willingness to buy (Dodds
et al 1991; Liljander 1994; Zeithaml 1988; Sweeney et al 1999). It was
argued by Woodruff (1997) that value concepts differ according to
the circumstances in which customers think about value (i.e., custom-
ers could perceive value different before and after purchase). This is
important as, if repeat purchase is sought, post purchase value percep-
tions must be in line with pre-purchase expectations. Woodruff and
Gardial (1996) also argued value perceptions are linked to other
post-consumption constructs, such as satisfaction and repurchase
intentions. Patterson and Spreng (1997) found value’s impact on re-
purchase intentions was not clear, partially because consumers have
experience and familiarity on which to base repurchase intentions.
However, it seems customer satisfaction is positively influenced by va-
lue (Bolton and Drew 1991; Woodruff 1997) and that value is nega-
tively impacted by perceived price (Zeithaml 1988; Chang and Wildt
1994; Sweeney et al 1999).

Customer Satisfaction. One of the most frequently raised questions

about satisfaction and its relationship with other constructs has been
whether it is a cognitive process (through disconfirmed expectations)
(Cronin and Taylor 1992; Bolton and Drew 1991; Boulding, Kalra, Sta-
elin, and Zeithmal 1993) or an emotional state from post-purchase feel-
ings, (Dube and Morgan 1996; Richins 1997; Oliver 1993; Mano and
Oliver 1993). Woodruff, Cadotte and Jenkins (1983) argued customer
satisfaction should be defined to reflect the link between cognitive
and emotional processes as customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction is
an emotional feeling developed in response to confirmation or discon-
firmation (which is a cognitive process). In the same manner, Pfaff
(1977) suggested cognitive and affective models might be appropriate
for describing satisfaction, which justifies the multidimensional ap-
proach used in the present study. The cognitively-oriented service qual-
ity and value constructs precede the emotionally oriented appraisal of
satisfaction (Bagozzi 1992; Liljander 1994; Oliver 1997) and it seems va-
lue is a more complete antecedent to satisfaction than is quality (Wood-
ruff 1997; McDougall and Levesque 2000; Gallarza and Saura 2006).
There has been recent empirical interest in the relationships be-
tween quality, value, satisfaction and behavioral intentions in tourism
(Oh 2003; Petrick, Backman and Bixler 1999; Baker and Crompton
2000; Bojanic 1996; Oh 1999). These studies have used different tech-
niques to operationalize variables, different types of multivariate tech-
niques to analyze data and different contexts to apply theories. In
particular, the studies have used a range of scales to measure value, of-
ten leaning on the utilitarian perspective of quality and the price paid
(Gallarza and Saura 2006), despite the need for multidimensionality
that was noted earlier. Other weaknesses include the use of single-item
P. Williams, G.N. Soutar / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 413–438 419

scales to measure the constructs of interest (Oh 1999; Al Sabbahy,

Ekinci, and Riley 2004).
A number of satisfaction studies have been undertaken in the tour-
ism sector (e.g. Ryan 1995; Crompton and Love 1995; Chadee and
Mattson 1996; Baker and Crompton 2000). Most have focused on mea-
suring the quality of tourists’ experiences and how various quality per-
formance factors impact on tourists’ satisfaction. However, it is clear
research into the subjective, affective and experiential factors that
make up a substantial portion of consumer satisfaction with tourism
services is also needed (Otto and Ritchie 1996). In tourism, satisfaction
is a tourist’s emotional state of mind after an experience. It is not attri-
bute-based as it is ‘experiential’ (Baker and Crompton 2000:788) and
‘‘emotions may intervene or act as a mediator between performance
and satisfaction’’ (Otto and Ritchie 1996:39). Indeed, Bojanic (1996)
found a strong positive correlation between perceived value and satis-
faction in a tourism context.

Behavioral Intentions. Several studies have examined the direct and

indirect relationships between value, quality, satisfaction and post-pur-
chase consequences, such as customer loyalty, positive word of mouth,
price premiums and repurchase intentions (e.g. Cronin and Taylor
1992; Bolton 1998; Ostrom and Iacobucci 1995; Fornell, Johnson,
Anderson and Everitt 1996; Chang and Wildt 1994). Many of these
studies concluded the relationships between the constructs were com-
plex, diverse and dynamic. Cronin, Brady, and Hult (2000) claimed
there was significant divergence of opinion about the relationships
(both direct and indirect) between quality, value, satisfaction and
behavioral intentions.
There appears to be widespread recognition of a strong link between
satisfaction (including perceived quality and perceived value) and re-
purchase intention (Rust and Oliver 1994; Bitner 1990). Similarly, con-
sumers’ value perceptions seem to drive future intentions (Brady and
Cronin 2001). Satisfaction has also been found to be a predictor of
post-purchase behavioural intentions (Zeithaml 1988; Patterson and
Spreng 1997). In a pre-purchase context, Chang and Wildt (1994)
found value was mediated by quality and price and positively impacted
on re-purchase intentions. They also found price had a direct (nega-
tive) effect and quality had a direct (positive) effect on purchase inten-
tions. Similarly, satisfaction is positively influenced by value (Bolton
and Drew 1991; Woodruff 1997), whereas value is negatively impacted
by price (Zeithaml 1988; Chang and Wildt 1994). Anderson and Sulli-
van (1990) found service satisfaction was strongly related to repurchase
intention. Thus, there appears to be a consensus that satisfaction is an
antecedent to future intentions in service environments (Anderson
and Sullivan 1990; Cronin and Taylor 1994; Patterson and Spreng
1997). It should also be noted that, even though satisfaction has a sig-
nificant influence on future intentions, its relationship with value
should be closely monitored as there are structural links between the
two concepts (Murray and Howat 2002).
420 P. Williams, G.N. Soutar / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 413–438

Boulding et al (1993) found a positive correlation between custom-

ers’ perceptions of service quality and their repurchase intentions
and willingness to recommend. In tourism, this is important because
there is a reliance on word-of-mouth for new business. Because of
the experiential nature of services, word of mouth communications
are viewed as more reliable and trustworthy. Consequently, they are
the primary means by which consumers gather information about ser-
vices (Bolton and Drew 1991; Gronroos 1990; Zeithaml, Berry and
Parasuraman 1993) and tourism is no different in this regard. In tour-
ism, Gallarza and Saura (2006) offered the most recent insight into
some of these relationships in a tourism context. They found moderate
to strong links between value, satisfaction and loyalty, but admitted
their fit-indices suggested the results should be treated with caution.
They acknowledged that their sample size and the use of a convenience
sample may have distorted their findings. They also suggested their
study should be replicated in different tourism contexts, as was the case
in the present study, which is discussed in the next section.
Based on this analysis of the literature, the present study aimed to
investigate the direct and indirect relationships between multi-dimen-
sional value perceptions of value; satisfaction and future behavioral
intentions in an adventure tourism context. Specifically, the research
study examined the following research propositions:-

 Each value dimension will have a direct, positive and significant association
with customer satisfaction.
 The socio-psychological dimensions of value (emotional value, social value, epi-
stemic value) will have a greater influence on customer satisfaction than the cog-
nitive dimensions of value (function value, value-for money).
 Customer satisfaction will have a direct, positive and significant association
with behavioural intentions.
 Customer satisfaction will completely mediate the relationship between customer
value and behavioural intentions, and customer value will only indirectly influ-
ence behavioural intentions.

As the study’s interest was adventure tourism, data were collected
from customers travelling on four-wheel drive adventure tours to the
Pinnacles in Western Australia, which is a popular adventure destina-
tion. The tours use specialist vehicles to manage a part on-road and
part off-road experience. The tour is marketed as an adventure tour,
and includes a visit to several unique rock formations at the Pinnacles
in Nambung National Park in Western Australia about 240 kilometres
on bitumen road from Perth. After visiting the rock formations, the
tours head back towards Perth, but use rough, off-road tracks for about
80 kilometres. This section of the tour takes about 4 hours and in-
cludes the more adventurous pursuits, such as driving on the beach,
crossing a range of steep sand dunes, and using advanced driving tech-
P. Williams, G.N. Soutar / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 413–438 421

niques (such as sliding the vehicles sideways down the dune). Some of
the sand dunes are over 100 feet high and this creates an unnatural
steep angle for the vehicles, which many first timers find quite fright-
ening. The vehicles are driven by qualified drivers and are equipped
with safety and recovery gear and satellite communications.
After obtaining support from the peak industry bodies, seven four-
wheel drive tour operators who were running day trips to the Pinnacles
were approached by telephone and in writing and invited to partici-
pate. After follow up telephone calls, two operators agreed to partici-
pate in the study. One of the authors and a research assistant
independently went on a day-tour from each of the participating com-
panies before data collection started and compared the two tours for
consistency and similarity. As part of this preliminary exercise, the four
drivers were interviewed during the tour and were asked to comment
generally about the consistency of the tours on a day-to-day basis and
asked to highlight where differences may occur. Field notes were taken
and the two researchers compared notes to identify any potential dif-
ferences. It was concluded that the tours were very similar in terms
of route taken; vehicles used (all OKA 14 seater vehicles); similar off-
road tracks and sand dune areas (as controlled by government conser-
vation authorities); similar driver commentary; same rest stops for
refreshments, lunch and rest rooms; and similar times taken for the
trip (approximately 9 hours). The interaction of the drivers with the
consumers and the interaction between consumers were noted as po-
tential areas of difference between tours. However, the tours were con-
sidered quite repetitive and, overall, were considered similar in scope
for the sampling strategy and data collection.
Data was collected during the December and January summer holi-
day period in Australia, which is the time when weather and off road
and sand conditions are most consistent. It is traditionally warm sunny
weather, with excellent track conditions for off-road vehicles. The
Christmas and New Year holiday period, combined with the end of
the wildflower season, sees large numbers of tourists on these tours.
This sampling strategy was considered appropriate to collect the
needed data in a relatively short time frame. Feedback from the tour
operators indicated that passengers during this holiday period are sim-
ilar to tourists who take these tours throughout the year, although in
larger numbers. It should be noted, however, that the tour experience
can vary depending on the season when there may be different weather
(colder and wetter in winter), different track conditions (tides can
wash away the tracks in the winter) and different numbers of tourists
(smaller numbers in winter). This may raise some issues for potential
bias from collection of data only in the summer period and the results
may not be generalizable to the whole population of four-wheel drive
consumers on these tours.
Approximately 450 passengers on 41 different tours from the two
companies were approached to participate in the study. While seated
on the bus, customers were asked to fill in a self-completion question-
naire towards the end of a full day adventure tour (approximately 30
minutes from the end of the tour). The questionnaire included 65
422 P. Williams, G.N. Soutar / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 413–438

questions including the data required for this study and some addi-
tional background questions required by the participating companies.
For all the value, satisfaction and intention questions, customers were
asked to rate their perceptions on a 7-point Likert scale with ‘‘1’’ rep-
resenting ‘‘Strongly Disagree’’ and ‘‘7’’ representing ‘‘Strongly
Information as to which customers agreed to participate in the study
and which customers refused was not collected. Consequently, no
checks could be made to assess non-response bias. However, the re-
sponse rate was considered very high as a total of 428 questionnaires
were collected and, after checking the quality of responses, 402 usable
questionnaires were obtained, suggesting non-response bias was unli-
kely to be an issue. The tour buses from which data were collected also
had to have a spare seat for the research assistant to administer the
questionnaires and had to have a reasonable number of passengers
to make data collection cost effective (approximately ten passengers
in the four-while drive vehicle used). The research assistant introduced
the purpose of the survey to customers and outlined that it was entirely
voluntary and confidential. The surveys were self-completion and the
research assistant was available to answer questions where necessary.
Respondents were asked about the value of their experience, their sat-
isfaction with the tour and their future intentions. The various con-
structs were adapted from a number of sources, as can be seen in
Table 1, as are the individual items used in each case.
The value dimensions were taken from the PERVAL value scale
developed by Sweeney and Soutar (2001). A novelty (epistemic) value
dimension was added as it is important in a tourism context. Prior re-
search has found doing novel and adventurous things and escaping
from the routine are important for tourists (Crompton 1979; Jeong
and Park 1996; Loundsbury and Hoopes 1985; Hawes 1979; Otto and
Ritchie 1996), as is seeking insight and knowledge (Walle 1997; Weber
2001). The added construct was an attempt to measure these aspects of
the tourism experience.
The data analysis followed a two-stage procedure. In the first stage,
composite constructs for the various constructs of interest were esti-
mated using confirmatory factor analysis procedures that reflected
the relationships between a latent construct and its observed variables
(the items in the questionnaire in this case) (Holmes-Smith and Rowe
1994; McGill, Hobbs and Klobas 2003). Four indicators were used for
each construct (Bollen 1989) and it was assumed loadings of 0.60 or
more were acceptable (Bagozzi and Yi 1988). Composite reliability
was calculated to assess the unidimensionality of the constructs, Aver-
age Variance Extracted (AVE) scores were calculated to assess the con-
structs’ convergent validity and Fornell and Larcker’s (1981) test was
used to assess the discriminant validity between the constructs. The
goodness of fit indices for a congeneric model are also a type of validity
test as, for a model to fit well, the items must represent the same latent
trait (Holmes-Smith and Rowe 1994).
In the second stage of the data analysis, the composite constructs
were used in a series of regressions that explored the relationships be-
P. Williams, G.N. Soutar / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 413–438 423

Table 1. Scales Used to Represent the Constructs

Construct Scale items Source

Functional Consistent quality Sweeney and Soutar (2001)

Value Done well
Acceptable standard of quality
Well organized
Value for Good return for money Sweeney and Soutar (2001)
Money Value for money
Good one for the price paid
Reasonably priced
Emotional Gave me feelings of well being Sweeney and Soutar (2001)
Value Was exciting
Made me elated
Made me feel happy
Social Value Gives social approval from Sweeney and Soutar (2001)
Makes me feel acceptable to
Improves the way a person is
Give a good impression on other
Novelty Made me feel adventurous Bello and Etzel (1985)
Value Satisfied my curiosity Weber (2001)
Was an authentic experience
We did a lot of things on the
Satisfaction Was exactly what I needed Oliver (1997)
I was satisfied with decision
It was a wise choice
It was a good experience
Intentions I would recommend this tour to Babakus and Boller (1992)
I would go on other tours in Patterson and Spreng (1997)
I would go on other
‘‘adventure’’ tours in future
I would go on other day trip
while on holiday in future

tween the various value dimensions and their respective impact on cus-
tomer satisfaction and customer intentions. The variables in the regres-
sion models were assessed for non-normality as required for
multivariate analysis (Hair, Anderson, Tatham and Black 1998). The
normal probability plots, skewness tests and kurtosis values did not
indicate any major distortion from a normal distribution. While regres-
sion assumes residuals (predicted minus observed values) are distrib-
uted normally, most tests (and specifically the F-test) are robust to
424 P. Williams, G.N. Soutar / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 413–438

violations of this assumption (Hair et al 1998; Stevens 1992). In addi-

tion to the regressions that looked at the direct effects the value dimen-
sions had on satisfaction and intentions, some indirect effects were
measured. The mediation effect satisfaction had on the relationship
between value and intentions was assessed using the three step proce-
dure recommended by Baron and Kenney (1986).


A summary of the backgrounds of the respondents is shown in Table
2. Discussions with the tour operators involved in the study suggested
the sample reflected their customer base well, which means the results
are likely to be representative of customers taking these tours.
As was noted earlier, confirmatory factor analysis was used to assess
the measurement characteristics of the various constructs included in
the study. The preliminary results obtained are shown in Tables 3
and 4. As can be seen in Table 3, all of the constructs seemed to be uni-
dimensional as the models fitted the data well and their reliabilities
were greater than 0.70 and their AVE scores were greater than 0.50
(Hair et al 1998).
It can be seen in Table 3, that respondents generally had positive
perceptions about the value received from their tour, as four of the five
value dimensions had means above the midpoint ‘‘4’’ on the seven-
point scales that were used. The highest-ranking value dimension was
emotional value, with a mean of 5.1. The traditional value dimensions
of quality and value for money were also rated highly (with means of

Table 2. Respondents’ Backgrounds

Frequency Percent

Gender Male 159 40

Female 237 59
Missing 6 1

Age 19 or less 9 2
20–29 123 31
30–39 98 25
40–49 51 13
50 or more 116 29
Missing 5 1

Country of Origin Japan 187 51

S.E. Asia 65 18
United Kingdom 54 15
Europe 18 5
Other 42 11
Missing 36 9
P. Williams, G.N. Soutar / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 413–438 425

Table 3. A Summary of the One-Factor Congeneric Models

Functional Value for Emotional Social Novelty Satisfaction Intentions

Value Money Value Value Value

Composite 0.87 0.92 0.88 0.94 0.87 0.91 0.86
Average 0.63 0.73 0.66 0.79 0.62 0.72 0.62
Cronbach’s 0.86 0.91 0.85 0.94 0.84 0.92 0.85
Goodness of fit
Chi-square 0.84 0.05 6.62 1.21 1.58 1.05 5.96
Probability 0.36 0.82 0.06 0.55 0.45 0.59 0.05
Goodness 0.99 1.00 0.99 0.99 0.99 0.99 0.99
of fit
Adjusted 0.97 0.99 0.96 0.99 0.99 0.99 0.96
of fit
Normed fit 0.92 1.00 0.99 0.99 0.99 0.99 0.99
Root mean 0.00 0.00 0.02 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.07
Root mean 0.02 0.01 0.03 0.02 0.02 0.01 0.03
Mean (1 to 4.8 4.7 5.1 3.0 4.8 4.2 5.4
7 scale)
Standard 0.77 0.90 0.82 1.03 0.84 0.83 0.92

4.8 and 4.7 respectively). Interestingly, novelty value, which included

items such as experiencing new places, doing things not able to do
at home and feeling adventurous, was also rated highly (4.8). The so-
cial value dimension had the lowest mean (3.0), suggesting respon-
dents did not feel they would obtain social approval by going on the
tour. Respondents were relatively satisfied, although the mean of 4.2
426 P. Williams, G.N. Soutar / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 413–438

could not be considered high as it was close to the mid-point of ‘‘4’’ on

the scale. Despite this, respondents had positive intentions as the mean
intention score was 5.4.
The discriminant validity between the value constructs was assessed
based on the squared correlations that are shown in Table 4. Fornell
and Larcker (1981) argued constructs have discriminant validity if
the AVE score for each construct is higher than the squared correla-
tion between that construct and any other construct. Table 4 shows
the AVEs and the squared correlations between the various constructs.
It can be seen that all the variables had lower squared correlations than
AVE scores, indicating there was discriminant validity between the
study’s main constructs. It should be noted, however, that the func-
tional value construct and the value-for-money construct had a reason-
ably high correlation, despite not breaching the AVE rule noted in
Table 4. Future researchers may wish to investigate reasons for this
potential link, as the aspects of ‘‘quality’’ operationalized within the
functional value dimension, may also be embedded within the value-
for-money dimension.
The initial regressions examined the impact of the respective value
had on satisfaction. The results of the stepwise regression procedure
are shown in Table 5. The equation was significant (F = 108.25,
p < 0.001) and all five of the value dimensions (functional value; emo-
tional value, value for money, social value and novelty value) were sig-
nificantly related to satisfaction. The adjusted R-squared statistic was
0.64; suggesting value plays a major role in predicting satisfaction in
an adventure tourism context. While the relationship between social
value and satisfaction was statistically significant, the negative valence
suggests social value did not add to customers’ satisfaction in the pres-
ent context. The standardised coefficients suggested novelty value and
value for money had greater impact than did the other two value
Table 6 shows the results when the impact of value dimensions on
intentions was estimated. The regression was significant (F = 98.495,
p < 0.001) and three of the value dimensions were significant and pos-
itively related to intentions. The adjusted R square value (0.49) indi-

Table 4. Discriminant Validity of the Value Dimensions

Construct Construct Average Functional Value for Emotional Social Novelty Satisfaction Intention
Reliability Variance Value Money Value Value Value

Functional Value 0.87 0.63 0.69 0.65 0.71 0.63 0.67 0.63
Value for Money 0.92 0.73 0.63 0.70 0.76 0.68 0.73 0.67
Emotional Value 0.88 0.66 0.31 0.34 0.73 0.64 0.69 0.64
Social Value 0.94 0.79 0.08 0.11 0.12 0.71 0.75 0.71
Novelty Value 0.87 0.62 0.23 0.30 0.47 0.07 0.67 0.62
Satisfaction 0.91 0.72 0.43 0.50 0.41 0.03 0.44 0.67
Intention 0.86 0.62 0.35 0.43 0.34 0.07 0.30 0.49

Note: Values in the bottom-half diagonal are the squared correlation coefficients, while values
in the top-half diagonal are the averages of the relevant variance extracted scores.
P. Williams, G.N. Soutar / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 413–438 427

cated that the value dimensions explained approximately half of the

variance in future intentions in the present context. Value for money
once again had the greatest impact, with two other dimensions (emo-
tional value and novelty value) contributing positively towards cus-
tomer intentions. Two dimensions (functional value and social value)
did not appear to contribute significantly to customer intentions.
From these two tables, it is clear there are direct, positive and mod-
erate to strong relationships between customer value and customer sat-
isfaction and between customer value and customer intentions. A
further analysis was used to see whether satisfaction mediated the rela-
tionship between value and intentions in this context using the three
step procedure suggested by Baron and Kenney (1986). The results
of the mediated regression analysis are shown in Table 7. In Step 3b,
the mediator and the predictor variables were included in the regres-
sion simultaneously.
For mediation to be present the magnitude of the beta coefficients
for the three value dimensions that were significant in Step 1 should
fall when the mediator (satisfaction) is added. In this case, the stand-
ardised regression coefficients between the novelty value, value-for-
money and emotional value dimensions and the dependent variable
of customer intentions were smaller when satisfaction was added to
the regression equation. This confirms previous studies in which satis-
faction was found to mediate the value-intentions relationship (Lam,
Shankar, Erramilli and Murthy 2004; Cronin et al 2000). It seems that,
for these three value variables, the greater the degree of customer

Table 5. Regression of the Value Dimensions on Satisfaction

Construct B Std. Error beta t Sig. VIF

Constant .606 .221 2.744 .006

Value for money .313 .062 .314 5.042 .000 3.252
Novelty value .363 .058 .309 6.309 .000 2.008
Functional Value .224 .069 .192 3.240 .001 2.932
Emotional Value .213 .062 .179 3.449 .001 2.260
Social Value .065 .021 .117 3.134 .002 1.164

Table 6. Regression of the Value Dimensions on Intentions

Construct B Std. Err. beta t Sig. VIF

Constant .759 .212 3.589 .000

Value for Money .398 .047 .443 8.491 .000 1.617
Emotional Value .223 .064 .209 3.474 .001 2.145
Novelty Value .170 .062 .161 2.762 .006 2.007
Social Value – – – – n.s. –
Functional Value – – – – n.s. –
428 P. Williams, G.N. Soutar / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 413–438

Table 7. Satisfaction as a Mediator between Value and Intentions

Beta t value Sig. R2 F

Step 1—Predictor to Mediator (Value dimensions to Satisfaction)

Value for Money to Satisfaction 0.431 9.47 <0.01 0.62 161.40
Emotional Value to Satisfaction 0.178 3.41 <0.01
Novelty Value to Satisfaction 0.306 6.03 <0.01
Step 2—Predictor to Dependent Variable (Value dimensions to Intention)
Value for Money to Intention 0.443 8.49 <0.01 0.49 98.50
Emotional Value to Intention 0.209 3.47 <0.01
Novelty Value to Intention 0.161 2.76 <0.01
Step 3a—Mediator to Dependent Variable (Satisfaction to Intention)
Satisfaction to Intention 0.704 17.16 <0.01 0.49 294.46
Step 3b—Predictor and Mediator to Dependent variable
Satisfaction to Intention 0.414 6.99 <0.01 0.55 125.27
Value for Money to Intention 0.272 4.85 <0.01
Emotional Value to Intention 0.154 2.97 <0.01
Novelty Value to Intention 0.038 0.66 n.s.

value provided to customers, the greater the customer satisfaction they

are likely to receive and the more positive their future intentions.

The present study attempted to clarify a number of the suggested
relationships between value, satisfaction and intentions in an adven-
ture tourism context. The results generally confirmed the findings of
a number of previous studies in which customer value has been found
to be an important antecedent to customer satisfaction and customer
intentions (e.g., Anderson, Fornell and Lehmann 1994; Patterson
and Spreng 1997; Cronin et al 2000). The explanatory power of the var-
ious value dimensions was particularly strong in relation to satisfaction
(explaining 62% of variance). Similarly, the various value dimensions
were found to influence future intentions (explaining 49% of the var-
iance), which confirms the findings of several other researchers (e.g.,
Bolton and Drew 1991; Rust and Oliver 1994; Patterson and Spreng
1997). It seems adventure tour operators who provide value,
particularly value-for-money and novelty value, are likely to have satis-
fied customers who are also likely to have positive future intentions.
While these findings initially confirm the work of other researchers,
the study makes a number of additional contributions.
Firstly, the influence of a multidimensional framework of value is
noteworthy here, as the socio-psychological dimensions (emotional va-
lue and novelty value) added to our understanding of value beyond the
traditional value-for-money paradigm. The use of a multidimensional
value framework enhanced our understanding of two post-consump-
tion constructs with strong explanation of both satisfaction (R square
P. Williams, G.N. Soutar / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 413–438 429

of 0.62) and future customer intentions (R-square of 0.49). A signifi-

cant portion of this explanatory power came from the socio-psycholog-
ical dimensions of value (novelty value and emotional value) in
addition to the value-for-money dimension.
Secondly, adventure travelers’ need to gain emotional highs and an
adrenalin rush has been noted previously (Bello and Etzel 1985; Chris-
tiansen 1990; Swarbrooke et al 2003) and this study confirmed the strong
relationship between emotional value, satisfaction and customer inten-
tions in such a context. Adventure tour operators need to explore ways
to manage tourists’ positive emotions, such as happiness, enjoyment,
excitement, thrills and adrenalin rush, lending support to a number of
studies that have highlighted the relationship between affective states
and satisfaction (Oliver 1993; Mano and Oliver 1993; Dube and Morgan
1996). This result is perhaps not surprising in an adventure tourism do-
main, where hedonism and the pursuit of emotional highs, such as
excitement, are key motivators (Christiansen 1990; Arnould and Price
1993). Real and perceived risks are key aspects of an adventure experi-
ence (Hall and McArthur 1991) and the emotion-laden aspects of risk
(fear, exhilaration, excitement) are evident in the marketing literature
of most adventure tour companies. Adventure operators need to manage
the emotional highs, within the boundaries of professional risk manage-
ment to ensure such activities are sustainable (Williams and Soutar 2005;
Page et al 2005).
Thirdly, the strong links between novelty value and satisfaction and
future intentions should be of interest to adventure marketers. This
association suggests adventure tour operators need to innovate and
keep exploring the latest developments in equipment, to allow them
to offer new, dynamic and challenging experiences. Once an adven-
ture traveler has consumed the experience, they are likely to seek a dif-
ferent, more challenging and more risk laden experience the next
time. The growth in adventure travel to extreme destinations is per-
haps testament to the need to satisfy people’s need for continuous nov-
elty value. Innovation and exploration of new environments should
help operators satisfy adventure tourists’ needs for doing different, un-
ique and novel experiences while on holiday (Weber 2001; Walle 1997;
Bello and Etzel 1985).
Fourthly, the study explored a number of the relationships between
value, satisfaction and intentions in an adventure tourism context for
the first time. While the tourism industry has long recognised the
importance of providing satisfying experiences (e.g., Ryan 1995;
Chadee and Mattson 1996; Baker and Crompton 2000), the present
study highlights that operators who provide value, through its respec-
tive dimensions, are likely to generate greater satisfaction for their
products. Specifically, if customers feel that they have received good va-
lue, they are more likely to be satisfied with their experience. In addi-
tion, customer satisfaction was found to mediate the relationship
between three customer value dimensions and customer intentions.
This highlights the importance of measuring the direct and indirect ef-
fects between value and intentions and supported the work of a num-
ber of researchers who have noted this indirect effect in other contexts
430 P. Williams, G.N. Soutar / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 413–438

(e.g. Lam et al 2004; Cronin et al 2000; Patterson and Spreng 1997;

Cronin and Taylor 1994; Baker and Crompton 2000). There is a strong
consensus in the tourism industry that positive word of mouth recom-
mendations and repeat purchase are important stimulants for future
business (De Ruyter, Wetzels and Bloemer 1997) and this was evident
in the present study. Future studies need to explore these findings to
other adventure tourism contexts.
Finally, the use of congeneric constructs was significant as they have
the potential to more accurately predict their relevant latent variables.
The major advantage of a congeneric model is that researchers can mea-
sure variations in the degree to which each item contributes to the latent
variable, which is more realistic than assuming equal weights (Holmes-
Smith and Rowe 1994). The relatively high R2 figures for satisfaction
and future intentions may be a symptom of this more accurate approach.
In similar studies, simple summated or averaged scales have been used to
represent a construct, once internal consistency has been verified with-
out allowing for the relative contribution of each variable (e.g., Ryan
1995; Lemminck, De Ruyter and Wetzels 1998; McDougall and Levesque
From a tourism perspective, the study adds to the existing value, sat-
isfaction and intentions literature. Although more research needs to be
undertaken before operators can draw inferential conclusions from the
results obtained in the present study, 4WD adventure operators in the
WA tourism industry can now better understand that value is a multi-
dimensional construct with emotional value, novelty value and value-
for-money having significant influences on satisfaction and behavioural
intentions. In practical terms, it means 4WD adventure operators
should focus on the provision of the socio-psychological aspects of va-
lue in order to gain positive satisfaction evaluations and positive inten-
tions. Novelty value and emotional value added considerably to the
explanation provide by value for money, which is traditionally used
to measure value. Focussing on these value components may become
even more important as customers become more discerning and
sophisticated (Krippendorf 1987; Poon 1993). Four-wheel drive adven-
ture tour operators may also wish to explore ways of managing tourists’
positive emotions, such as happiness, enjoyment, excitement, thrills
and adrenalin rush, such as through a dramatic narrative of the activ-
ities and the experience (Arnould and Price 1993). Overcoming differ-
ent challenges (e.g., soft sand, the highest sand dunes, the snakes, the
wildlife, the fear of being stranded in the wilderness) may build emo-
tional tension. A release from tension comes from overcoming these
dramatic challenges and leads to positive emotional responses (Fluker
and Turner 2000; Arnould and Price 1993).


As with previous research in this area, many of the constructs associ-
ated with satisfaction and value in a services context are intangible, elu-
sive and difficult to measure. For example, it is difficult to measure
P. Williams, G.N. Soutar / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 413–438 431

perceptions in a tourism context (Botterill and Crompton 1996,

O’Guinn and Belk, 1989; Jayanti and Ghosh 1996). Although an empir-
ically tested scale was used, there is a possibility of unreliable responses.
This has particular relevance in tourism where the consumer is on holi-
day and may not wish to be interrupted from their experience by filling
in a questionnaire. Although checks were made to ensure the validity
and reliability of responses, some responses may not reflect the true
perceptions of the tourists. The generalisability of the results is also a
limiting factor as there was only one type of activity (four-wheel drive
tours) from two operators (from seven available); in one location (Pin-
nacles Western Australia) at one time of year. These limitations obvi-
ously inhibit the applicability of these results to other adventure and
tourism contexts.
The cross-sectional design of the study creates opportunities for rep-
lication, comparative studies and longitudinal analyses in a multitude
of adventure contexts. This would help validate the present study’s
main findings and establish the generalizability of the multidimen-
sional value framework in an adventure context. The relatively poor
performance of the functional value dimension in the present adven-
ture tourism context needs further investigation. Quality and perfor-
mance have been found to be key aspects of functional value and to
be related to satisfaction (Churchill and Surprenaut 1982; Sweeney
et al 1999; Tse and Wilton 1988; Zeithaml, Berry and Parasuraman,
1996; Oliver 1993; Cronin et al 2000). However, in the present study,
functional value did not predict satisfaction or intentions.
Further research is also needed to explore the ‘adventure’ dimen-
sion in more detail. While the value framework used in the present
study was contextualised towards adventure tourism, there may be
other specific value dimensions relevant to adventure consumption.
While constructs such as risk and challenge are difficult to define
and measure they are important components of adventure (Ewert
1997; Ewert and Hollenhorst 1989), they need to be examined and
incorporated in the value model.
Perceptions of risk from driving down a steep sand dune differ con-
siderably among customers. Consequently, there may be demographic
factors, such as age, gender and previous experience that impact on
the relationships examined in the present study, especially as percep-
tions of risk influence emotional reactions, which was the key driver
of satisfaction and positive intentions. Other dimensions of adventure,
such as perception of wilderness, challenge, spiritual enlightenment,
and perceptions of ‘soft’ versus ‘hard’ also need to be investigated
The present study improved our understanding of the value con-
struct and its relationship to satisfaction and intentions in an adventure
tourism context. An existing customer value scale was adapted and ex-
tended to include a range of dimensions applicable to a tourism con-
text. Previous studies have tended to use simplistic value scales, which
were either unidimensional (product is of good value) or bi-dimen-
sional value for money constructs (a trade-off between the quality of
the products and price). The present study suggests value is more com-
432 P. Williams, G.N. Soutar / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 413–438

plex in a tourism context, requiring a multidimensional value concep-

tualisation that includes utilitarian (functional value and value for
money) and socio-psychological (emotional value, and novelty value)

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Submitted 2 March 2008. Final Version 12 February 2009. Accepted 23 February 2009.
Refereed anonymously. Coordinating Editor: Jorge Zamora

Available online at

Annals of Tourism Research, Vol. 36, No. 3, pp. 439–458, 2009
0160-7383/$ - see front matter. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
Printed in Great Britain


Christine N. Buzinde
The Pennsylvania State University, USA
Carla Almeida Santos
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA

Abstract: This inquiry explores the manner in which tourists endow a former slave plantation
with meaning by promoting or demoting its cultural authority. Drawing on the encoding/
decoding model, this study utilizes interviews to examine the ways in which tourists decode
the plantation by acquiescing or negating the preferred cultural text through the adoption
of dominant, negotiated or oppositional readings. The findings indicate that as active recip-
ients of the preferred reading tourists interpreted/decoded the plantation in dichotomous
polarized ways based on the meaning structures and knowledge frameworks of the interpre-
tive communities within which they are situated. In essence, the decoding process, much like
the encoding process is viewed as constituting an array of dominant ideologies. Keywords:
decoding/encoding model, interpretative communities, slavery. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Slavery heritage tourism sites function within discourses of authority
wherein memory and illusion coalesce to shape a romanticized recol-
lection of the contentious plantation past; these tourable mnemonic
locales are intricately linked to the history of chattel bondage (Dann
and Seaton 2001). They are not apolitical spatialities, equally hospita-
ble to any form of cultural expression but rather consist of culturally
specific values which utilize discursive lenses to influence how histori-
cal events are understood and interpreted. Like many heritage sites,
they serve as locales of pedagogical power wherein the state disciplines
history, knowledge, and ultimately the populace (Foucault 1977). One
of their key roles has been to preserve history and to educate genera-
tions about the plantation past vis à vis noble tales describing the lives
of the plantation owners and the architectural intricacies of their
homes (Buzinde and Santos 2008). Another role has been to inspire
pride and inculcate nationalistic ideologies, albeit through state engi-
neered amnesia by trivializing or annihilating the institution of slavery
within the heritage metanarratives (Buzinde 2007; Eichstedt and Small

Christine Buzinde is an assistant professor in the Department of Recreation, Park and

Tourism Management at The Pennsylvania State University (University Park, PA 16802, USA.
E-mail: <>). Her research focuses on the socio-political dynamics of
tourism as they pertain to ethno-representation. Carla Almeida Santos is an assistant professor
in the Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism at the University of Illinois at Urbana-
Champaign. Her research interests focus on the areas of representational politics and socio-
cultural aspects of tourism.

440 C.N. Buzinde, C.A. Santos / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 439–458

2002). In essence, they are not innocent edifications but rather repre-
sentations of thoroughly ideological narratives bound up within polit-
ical discourses that tacitly endorse dominant societal values.
As much as slave heritage tourism sites are demonized within aca-
demic discourse for their inescapable authority or their impossible mis-
sion to show the American plantation past through cosmopolitan
representational tactics, one has to acknowledge that there is no uni-
fied power bloc or conspiratorial heritage system to blame or defeat.
It is rather a tangled skein of complicitous human interactions that
promote the cultural authority of these sites. After all, the authority
and meaning of heritage sites is, in part, determined by how other
voices, that is, those of tourists, talk them into being. Slave heritage
sites gain their credibility not from the onsite magically-imbued objects
that are portrayed through carefully crafted metanarratives but rather
by the power vested in them by the visiting populations. Thus, rather
than refer to heritage sites as instruments of institutional oppression,
it is far more beneficial to view them as contested sites wherein mean-
ing is constructed, reconstructed and negotiated.
The symbiotic relationship between slave heritage sites and tourists,
much like most historic sites, is undoubtedly characterized by dialo-
gism whereby, the former constructs a preferred reading of a site while
the latter brings varying socio-cultural experiences to bear on the pro-
cess of interpreting the preferred reading. This symbiotic relationship
calls attention to the polysemous ways of reading/interpreting cultural
texts, in the broadest sense of the term. Describing how individuals
construct meaning through their symbolic interactions with cultural
texts, Stuart Hall (1980) maintains that audiences consume the con-
noted dominant meanings and decode them using the encoder’s hege-
monic belief that the crafted message ought to be society’s point of
view. It follows that the audience accepts the encoding and utilizes it
as a reference point for how they subsequently read the text; the dom-
inant text thus, acts as a benchmark on which their decision to acqui-
esce or contest the message is based. Hall (1980), states that the way in
which the audience reads or views the encoded text manifests in one of
three ways: a dominant-hegemonic view, a negotiated view or an oppo-
sitional view. Audiences who decode a text as a dominant view accept
the connoted meanings, reconstruct the preferred view and conse-
quently, operate within the ‘‘dominant code’’ (Hall 1980:136). Alter-
natively, audiences who decode a text through a negotiated reading
‘‘acknowledge the legitimacy of the hegemonic definition’’ (Hall
1980:137) while operating outside those definitions by concurrently
negating the dominant reading; such decodings are characterized by
significant contradictions. Lastly, audiences who decode a text through
oppositional readings comprehend the preferred reading but oppose
its dominant code due to their espousal of alternate frames of refer-
ence. Therefore, by reading the text, be it in a preferred, negotiated
or oppositional manner, audiences are inevitably developing and utiliz-
ing frameworks that enable them to render the world intelligible.
Within heritage tourism studies, the dialogic meaning making rela-
tionship between producers and consumers has remained relatively
C.N. Buzinde, C.A. Santos / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 439–458 441

under researched as scholars have predominantly focused on manage-

ment attributes (Halewood and Hannam 2001; Garrod and Fyall 2000).
Relatively few examinations have explored tourists in relation to heri-
tage sites; those who have embarked on this trajectory have focused
on notions of motivation, satisfaction and market segmentation (see
Herbert 2001; Poria, Butler, and Airey 2004). Therefore, despite some
notable exceptions (Bruner 1993; Chronis 2005; Palmer 2005; Prentice
and Andersen 2007; Pretes 2003), not enough attention has been paid
to the processes by which tourists symbolically interact with a preferred
reading of a site to endow it with meaning; particularly, readings of
contested slavery heritage sites, such as former slave plantations, which
are linked to unresolved, contentious pasts deeply connected to cur-
rent social debates on slavery, race and racism. Indeed, while scholars
have been instrumental in documenting the didactic and hegemonic
role enacted by heritage sites in annihilating slave histories (see
Alderman and Modlin 2008; Dann and Seaton 2001; Buzinde 2007;
Buzinde and Santos 2008), inquiries into how audiences decode such
preferred readings have remained scarce.
It would be presumptuous to assume that the tourist body is homog-
enous and that they all espouse interpretations well aligned with the
preferred reading of the site; especially given that, in the age of glob-
alization, individuals draw from an array of ideological predispositions.
Furthermore, they are exposed to a plethora of popular cultural texts
such as Hollywood movies (e.g., Roots and Gone with the Wind), Public
Broadcasting Service (PBS) documentaries on slavery in America and
novels on antebellum life, all of which influence their interpretation
of the plantation’s cultural text. Tourists thus bring an eclectic set of
preconceptions to the meaning making process that (dis)engages the
past of depravity and the present social order. Comprehending the
manner in which contemporary society renders heritage plantations
intelligible is necessary given that the global community is celebrating
the 200th anniversary since the abolition of slavery for Britain, in 2007,
and America, in 2008. Numerous commemorative efforts, such as the
opening of America’s first National Slavery Museum and the UNESCO
Slave Route Project, are marking this historical zenith through the
adoption of inclusive messages that foster dialogue, educate the mass
populace and promote national healing. This anniversary has also
spurred numerous academic investigations which although different
in their disciplinary approaches, share the belief that slavery, both in
its historical and modern commemorative forms, continues to be a
matter of undiminished political and social relevance. The current in-
quiry joins these global efforts by drawing from Hall’s seminal work
and building on extant tourism studies to explore the varying ways in
which tourists endow a former slave plantation with meaning. Specifi-
cally, through the use of on-site interviews, the study examines the ways
in which tourists decode the plantation’s preferred encoding through
the adoption of dominant, negotiated or oppositional readings. This is
an important undertaking because it is through sustained dialog and
continued understanding of society’s symbolic interaction with
442 C.N. Buzinde, C.A. Santos / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 439–458

constructions of America’s slavery past that ‘‘our nation can hope at

long last to become free of its legacy’’ (Wilder 2006:11).


The interaction between the tourist and the plantation is mediated
through textual representations; however, it is important to note that
tourists are not passive recipients of cultural texts. They approach
the heritage text by drawing on certain value systems that enable them
to render the site intelligible. Scholars examining this phenomenon
have been instrumental in illustrating the active role enacted by recip-
ients as they engage with the preferred text constructed by heritage
officials. For instance, drawing on ethnographic work at the New Salem
Historic Site, Bruner (1993) describes the relationship between visitors
and the cultural producers of the text as being characterized by com-
petition. There exists ‘‘a contest between the museum professionals
and scholars on the one hand who seek historical accuracy and
authenticity versus the peoples’ own popular interpretation of
Abraham Lincoln’s heritage’’ (Bruner 1993:15). Acknowledging the
complex relationship between producers and consumers, Bruner as-
serts that the scientific views espoused and promoted by the heritage
professionals ‘‘are contradicted and suppressed by how the recon-
structed village is produced and by how it is interpreted and experi-
enced by the visitors’’ (1993:14). Hence, despite efforts undertaken
by heritage site managers to craft a preferred reading, tourists ulti-
mately rearticulate it as they see fit.
The active role enacted by tourists is also evidenced in Chronis’s
(2005) work on Gettysburg where he illustrates that tourists utilize
their pre-established knowledge, negotiation mechanism, and imagina-
tion to dialogically engage marketers in the co-construction of mean-
ing. Notions of socio-historical demarcations of place further
complicate the interpretation process. According to Chronis, both ser-
vice providers and tourists utilize historical spatialities to ‘‘define and
strengthen social values of patriotism and national unity’’ (2005:386)
as they are understood within the present sociopolitical order. In fact,
accounts of nation and nationalism resonate within most examinations
of tourists’ construction of meaning. For example, through the investi-
gation of three heritage sites in South Dakota—Mount Rushmore
National Memorial, Wall Drug Store, and Rapid City Dinosaur Park,
Pretes (2003) states that historic sites, which conceive of nationalism
as an imagined community, often offer tourists a venue within which
to affirm and maintain a form of national identity. Such representa-
tional strategies that focus on a social imaginary draw on national
essentialisms to influence levels of consumption; especially as they ap-
ply to nationals who imbue the site with familiarity (Prentice and
Andersen 2007). In their exploration of visitor motivations and experi-
ences of Old Town, Prentice and Anderson discovered that ‘‘Danes
were much more likely to associate the site with their family history’’
whereas non-Danes consumed the locale ‘‘as an insight into a common
C.N. Buzinde, C.A. Santos / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 439–458 443

humanity’’ (2007:675). The numerous ways in which sites are decoded

pose numerous challenges for heritage site managers as they aim to de-
liver coherent and inclusionary metanarratives that resonate interna-
tionally. Such efforts are further problematized when the site in
question is associated with a history of depravity and oppression, such
as slavery.
Examining the Elmina Castle, a former slavery trading seaport in
Ghana, Bruner (1996) explores the manner in which tourists ascribe
meaning to the site. Extending his notion of contested meanings as
they pertain to historic sites, his investigation indicated that there were
dissonant interpretations of the same site between two cohorts of visi-
tors; namely, African and African American tourists. The former asso-
ciated the site with King Asantehene, a historical figure who was
imprisoned in the dungeon rooms ‘‘after the defeat of Ashanti forces
by the British army’’ (Bruner 1996:294). For this particular cultural
group the site symbolically represents colonial resistance. The latter
however, viewed the castle as a symbolic memorial to their enslaved
ancestors who endured bondage under the Dutch; thus, for this partic-
ular cultural group the site was a key location on the transnational map
of the African diaspora. A commonality within the aforementioned re-
search is the understanding that when tourists engage cultural texts
they compete for the construction of relevant meanings that affirm
their sense of being. Consequently, based on their social situatedness
they render certain elements intelligible while rendering others

Encoding the Hampton Plantation

A prerequisite for comprehending tourist’s interpretations of a given
heritage site is the understanding of the encoded or preferred meta-
narrative promoted by site managers. As such, prior to presenting
the methods adopted in the current inquiry, a synopsis of the Hamp-
ton Plantation and State Historic Park wherein this research was con-
ducted ensues. During the 18th and 19th century the Hampton,
located in McClellanville, South Carolina, was an active slave plantation
(SCSPS 2006). In 1971 it was sold to South Carolina State Park Service
(SCSPS) by Archibald Rutledge, a poet laureate whose ancestors had
owned the site (SCSPS 2006). A stately metal gate beckons tourists to
the site and guides them through the majestic grounds along an entry-
way beautifully adorned with a canopy of lush trees. Half a mile down
this path, the greenery that envelops the passageway is replaced with a
stark image of a clear cut plot in which hundreds of multicolored, syn-
thetic flowers are dispersed. There are no commemorative inscriptions
in sight describing this monument; however, when asked tourists are
informed that the area is a gravesite for those who were enslaved at
the Hampton and their descendants. There are hundreds of unmarked
graves identified only by the numerous oblong protrusions in the
ground that are occasionally accompanied by displays of crucifix-
shaped bouquets. One notable exception is Sue Alston’s grave which
444 C.N. Buzinde, C.A. Santos / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 439–458

showcases a tombstone identifying her as the ‘‘angel of Hampton’’ and

descendant of slaves. Sue Alston is a former slave who, after the aboli-
tion of slavery, chose to remain at the Hampton as a cook for Archibald
Rutledge. Remnants of her cabin, which encompass a chimney and a
partial wall, are on display. Unlike other plantations, the Hampton
has no intact slave cabins to showcase; in fact, the area wherein they
were once located currently houses the public bathrooms and guest
parking lots.
Through commemorative inscriptions and docent narratives, the
tourist gaze is directed towards objects that invoke pleasurable planta-
tion experiences (Buzinde 2007; Buzinde and Santos 2008). The con-
stant discursive placement of the sites’s past within narratives of local
and regional wealth reinforces the importance of this theme to the
state endorsed meaning of the site. Prevalent within brochures, com-
memorative inscriptions and docent narratives are statements such
as: ‘‘cultivation of rice . . . created economic prosperity’’; ‘‘the system
of rice cultivation . . . transformed the entire South Carolina Coastal
Plain bringing immense wealth to planters’’; ‘‘Carolinians were export-
ing 160 million pounds of rice per year’’. Examined in isolation such
accounts have little significance; however, a contextual examination
elicits that the accumulation of riches is celebrated without mentioning
the inhumane manner in which the wealth was amassed. Within this
‘‘matrix of erasures’’ (Ebron 2000:920), accounts of the Other evanes-
cently appear under the disguise of terminological inconsistencies such
as servants or laborers; implying consented participation in the labor
market as opposed to chattel bondage.
Measures are taken to enable tourists to relate to the site’s celebra-
tory message by knitting them into the fabric of the metanarrative
through phrases such as ‘‘you would have sat here’’ and ‘‘you would
have come in through this door’’. These selected phrases invite tourists
to imagine themselves enacting the privileged roles of the elite and in-
voke ‘‘an individual sense of belonging and understanding of collective
roots’’ (Palmer 2005:14). The tour occurs in the purposefully unfur-
nished mansion which highlights the structure’s architectural and con-
struction details. The docent narratives encompass accounts of
accumulated wealth, descriptions of hunting and building accoutre-
ments and humorous tales of misdemeanors. Artifacts within the man-
sion encompass a poster of a family tree and a log book of famous
recipes created by the Hampton women. Notably, the recipe log book
also catalogues the existence of the thousands enslaved at the Hamp-
ton and documents their monetary value based on assigned tasks; how-
ever, docents only make reference to the log book in relation to the
recipes. The site also exhibits a dilapidated kitchen building wherein
the enslaved prepared meals. The site’s revered image is further an-
chored within institutional discourses which have elevated it to Na-
tional Historic Landmark status particularly because it exhibits a
mansion which is ‘‘a centerpiece and monument to South Carolina’s
glorious rice age’’ (South Carolina State Park Brochure); this national
tribute encapsulates the core tenets of the site’s preferred reading.
C.N. Buzinde, C.A. Santos / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 439–458 445

Study Methods
Tourists’ interpretations of Hampton were explored through semi-
structured interviews. Twenty-seven on-site exit interviews were con-
ducted with a purposeful sample of tourists during February of 2006.
There are various sampling strategies used for purposefully selecting
information within naturalistic inquiry; the activity focused strategy
was adopted because the goal of the study was to sample individuals
based on their engagement in the activity (i.e., site visitation rather
than geographical origin). Given this directive, the sample resulted
in 27 Caucasian participants, sixteen of whom were American while ele-
ven were internationals—Canadians and 1 Englishman (the site is sel-
dom frequented by ethnic minority). Twelve of the participants were
females and fifteen were males; the number of participants was guided
by the attainment of theoretical saturation (Patton 2002). They ranged
between the ages of 45 and 60 and possessed a high school and above
educational level. Although several of the American participants were
repeat tourists there was no apparent difference in interpretation or
significance attributed to the site in comparison to the new comers.
Tourists were interviewed after touring the site to ensure they had a
holistic view of the produced representations including the masternar-
rative offered by the state officiated docents. Interview questions
encompassed: What does this site represent to you? What significance
does it possess? Why should it be commemorated? Are there other ele-
ments that should be added to the overall narrative? If so, what are
they, and in what ways would these additions be beneficial? To ensure
trustworthiness of the data, measures were taken to seek clarification
during the interview, immediately after the interview and/or after
participants had completed the second sightseeing activity.
Narrative analysis was employed to aid the comprehension of the
interpretive processes entailed within the interview context. This ap-
proach allowed for the revelation of the narrative structures entailed
within social agents’ meaning making processes and the identification
of the narrative devices employed by individuals in recounting their
experiences (Polkinghorne 1988). The analysis commenced with a pro-
longed review of the interview transcripts with the goal of gaining an
understanding of the overall meanings while concurrently preserving
a holistic image (Hall 1975). This stage entailed identifying narrative
structures that aided participants in making sense of their experiences
and it also enabled the documentation of recurrent elements. All the
transcripts were iteratively reviewed from numerous horizontal passes,
which required not only (re)reading the interviews from beginning to
end, but also the assembling of narratives by themes (Coffey and
Atkinson 1996).
The coding procedure described by Miles and Huberman (1994) was
employed to identify emergent themes; within the theme identification
process, words, phrases, sentences, or paragraphs that were affiliated
with the same theme were clustered together, facilitating the classifica-
tion of the theme. Thus, via a thorough review and coding process, key
emergent themes were identified. Two overarching themes emerged:
446 C.N. Buzinde, C.A. Santos / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 439–458

‘‘Slavery as a Munificent Institution’’ and ‘‘Slavery as a Lesson for

Humanity’’. Sub-themes for the former were ‘‘Architectural Contribu-
tion to History’’ and ‘‘Altruistic Relationships’’, while sub-themes for
the latter were ‘‘Hegemonic Relationships’’ and ‘‘Pedagogical Respon-
sibility’’. These overarching themes and sub-themes are important gi-
ven their ability to provide insight into the differential ways tourists
ascribe meaning to the site. For instance, phrases such as ‘‘they wanted
to be a Rutledge servant’’, ‘‘they were good to their servants’’ and
‘‘there was a better relationship here’’, guided the categorization of
narratives affiliated with the sub-theme ‘‘Altruistic Relationships’’ while
expressions such as ‘‘to show for society’s mistakes’’, ‘‘shows how
things really are in this country today’’ and ‘‘should help people reflect
upon the past’’ steered the sorting of narratives associated with the sub-
theme ‘‘Pedagogical Responsibility’’. Intercoder reliability was attained
through the efforts of two independent coders who coded each unit
based on the previously identified decoding categories with the expec-
tation that coders would add to the preexisting categories if they
encountered data that suggested the creation of new ones. However,
as the analysis progressed coders encountered no additional decoding
categories, in fact, they discovered the absence of the negotiated view
(an aspect discussed in the discussion section); this coding procedure
resulted in strong coder agreement.
The approach to interviewing was one that emphasized co-produc-
tion and co-authorship through the interaction between researchers
and participants as co-creators of meaning (Holstein and Gubrium
1995). The researchers acknowledge that their varying lived experi-
ences, values, belief systems and social localities have in a plethora of
ways shaped their approach to this inquiry (Pritchard and Morgan
2003). Given their racial classification, black and white respectively, it
is can be argued that the latter ‘‘writes from the center from within
those ideological, discourses and material structures that form the cen-
tered structures of power and knowledge’’ (Pritchard and Morgan
2003:121) while the former writes from the periphery. However, such
a simplistic binary analysis is complicated, firstly, by the equal academic
status from which both authors write and secondly, by the various hy-
brid identities that they embody as Afro-Canadian and Portuguese-
American individuals whose formative years were in Cyprus and Portu-
gal, respectively. Thus, to attribute their knowingness to race/ethnicity
or nationality would not only be misleading but erroneous because
they inhabit various geopolitical spatialities that influence their
embodiment of the constructs in question and inform the manner in
which they render their surroundings intelligible. Consequently, a
more appropriate account of their positionalities would view their
identities as evolving and their writing location as ‘‘not so much cen-
tered or marginalized but a place in motion’’ (Pritchard and Morgan
2003:121). Such reflexive actions not only enable the researchers to re-
flect on ways in which they come to interact with their interlocutors but
also ways in which they draw on their lived experiences to render the
object of research intelligible (Pritchard and Morgan 2003).
C.N. Buzinde, C.A. Santos / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 439–458 447

Decoding the Hampton Plantation

Two distinct decoding practices were adopted by participants,
namely dominant hegemonic and oppositional. Participants who
espoused a dominant hegemonic position shared the site’s preferred
text and discursively constructed the plantation by acquiescing to the
projected message. They justified their views on slavery based on the
perception that the institution of slavery was munificent; hence, the
plantation was articulated within the realm of its historical architec-
tural significance and its altruistic relationships between the enslavers
and their enslaved. Participants who adhered to an oppositional/coun-
ter hegemonic position negated the preferred textual code and drew
upon different frames of reference (Hall 1980). This group viewed
the site as a lesson for humanity and an exemplar of hegemonic rela-
tionships between past and present racial groups in America. A discus-
sion of the emergent discursive frames follows.

Slavery as a Munificent Institution: Architectural Contribution to History

A common perspective amongst individuals who acquiesced to the
preferred text was the view that the mansion, as a national historical
landmark, justified the commemoration of the plantation. The conflu-
ence of the mansion with commemorable history is described by Rob-
ert, one of the participants, who states: ‘‘. . . we always appreciate the
history of a house like this, this house is history, there is a history lesson
here’’. Similarly, albeit exhibiting a nostalgic yearning for the life expe-
riences of the denizens of the big house, Betty mentions that the man-
sion ‘‘is so special because . . . if [it] could talk it would probably tell a
lot of stories’’. The notion that the plantation represented a significant
contribution to historical architecture resonated with numerous partic-
ipants. Some described the architectural characteristics as distinct in
contrast to other historic sites in the area. For instance, one participant
commented on the mansion in comparison to similar structures at
other historical plantations such as Drayton Hall. Unlike the previous
accounts, which refer to the plantation as generally representing his-
tory, Charlie specifically refers to the architectural design as the main
contribution to history.
One thing I see about this house that is similar with other ones that
we have seen like Drayton Hall is that this one actually shows some
architecture . . . an important (emphasis by speaker) part of the history
of this area.
In the above excerpt, Charlie makes reference to the interpretation
strategy adopted by the site that allows tourists to see through various
layers of the mansion’s construction process. This is a practice wel-
comed by tourists who have an appreciation for architectural detailing.
Acknowledging the importance of the architectural design, Rose states:
The big thing about this house is showing how the thing was built. It’s
different from the normal site that you would go to. It’s really neat. It
teaches you something about history.
448 C.N. Buzinde, C.A. Santos / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 439–458

Arguably, the site was successful in mobilizing familiar symbols,

images and narratives that help shape the subjectivities of the tourists
(Ebron 2000). It constructed and produced a longing for place and
identity that the tourists were able to relate to because it invoked a
sense of home. These dominant readings were well aligned with the
preferred message because they presented the mansion as an iconogra-
phy of collective memory; collective memory in this sense refers to a
masternarrative wherein the dominant value systems are celebrated
while subaltern histories are marginalized (Buzinde and Santos 2008).

Slavery as a Munificent Institution: Altruistic Relationships

Participants were asked to delineate other aspects that were entailed
in the representation of the plantation. Some participants mentioned
the well kept grounds and/or the historical horticultural designs, as as-
pects that also warranted preservation while others were unable to
identify any additional commemorable elements. To further delineate
whether they espoused the preferred reading participants were asked
whether the institution of slavery was an historical element entailed
in the interpretation of the site. Those who offered the preferred view
responded to this question through statements that implicitly mini-
mized the problematic nature of the plantations’ past and presented
it as a benevolent institution. For instance, Joe’s discussion of the
munificent nature of the chattel bondage is captured in the following
But people were well here because I read books that stated that they
wanted to be a Rutledge servant as opposed to someone else. I mean
some of them were mean to their slaves . . . but they didn’t do that
here. Some days they showed up for work some days they didn’t,
ummm and it was okay.
Joe, as well as other participants, substantiated their claims based on
books they had read. Notably, these books were in many cases authored
by descendents of planter families who themselves were justifying the
involvement of their kin in slavery and, concurrently, romanticizing
the era.
Joe acknowledges the existence of chattel bondage but views it as
something many aspired to be a part of. The association with freewill
and gainful employment is explicit in Joe’s account as he makes refer-
ence to ‘‘servants’’ and ‘‘work’’; implying they were part of a paid work-
force. Similarly, Gloria also claims life was better at Hampton as
compared to other plantations.
I think because of the history that we have read about this place, this
one, I mean don’t get me wrong, we haven’t been to lots of places but
it seems that maybe there was a better relationship between the ser-
vants and their owners here than a lot of places.
Gloria, juxtaposing the plantation to others in the area, argues that
the Hampton abided by leaner regulations that favored positive inter-
actions between the enslaved and their enslavers. Charlie also concurs
C.N. Buzinde, C.A. Santos / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 439–458 449

that the Hampton slaves were better off. He, however, views the ceme-
tery—located at the entrance of the property—as a prime illustration
of the generosity that characterized the relationship between enslaved
and their enslavers.
. . . from what we heard Archibald’s ancestors were nice folk . . . they
were good to their servants, they tried to treat them well. Did ya’all
see the cemetery at the entrance, they gave up the huge prop-
erty . . . gave it to their workers so they could all be buried there. Nice
people like that were hard to come by in those days . . . and Archie
writes a lot about Sue [a former slave] ‘nd how nice she was.

The cemetery in question was donated by Archibald’s ancestors

to the Hampton slave community. Descendants of slaves are no
longer buried in the area and rather choose a cemetery located in
Germain Town—an original former slave community (personal
The allusion to the pleasantness of the enslavers is a narrative strat-
egy well aligned and legitimized by written accounts offered by Archi-
bald, a denizen of the Hampton, who revered the plantation and
nostalgically described its glorious days. Participants who are familiar
with these cultural texts draw on the offered popular tropes to render
the locale intelligible. John believes that slaves were better off at the
Hampton but argues that the preferential treatment at this site is attrib-
utable to their cultivated cash crops. He states:
It interested me how the blacks had or created their own little com-
munity how they worked . . . Rice planters were much nicer than cot-
ton planters.

Unlike Charlie, John does not make any reference to written docu-
ments to justify his stance but argues that enslavers on rice plantations
were more pleasant compared to those on cotton plantations. He fur-
ther legitimates slavery as munificent in his allusion that it led to the
creation of a unique black community. In general, the discourse struc-
ture adopted by participants in this category strategically avoided dis-
cussions of the contentions past, subsequently justifying its existence
based on its creation of a key historical artifact—the plantation; as well
as, the development of an African American culture which emerged
from the alleged munificent relationships between enslaved and
These participants articulated the site through narratives of wealth
and benevolence consequently drawing upon cogent images of collec-
tive memory. Furthermore, through nostalgic yearnings, they devised
discursive strategies which defended their American identity and
strengthened their link to the past. Their nostalgic motives can be
attributed to the uncertainty instigated by modernity (particular with
regards to issues of identity politics) which pushes social beings to seek
a certain level of stability, safety and originality from which to base their
sense of self (Halewood and Hannam 2001; Hewison 1987; Lowenthal
450 C.N. Buzinde, C.A. Santos / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 439–458

Slavery as a Lesson for Humanity: Hegemonic Relationships

A common perspective amongst participants who adopted an oppo-
sitional reading was the view that the site epitomized the apogee in les-
sons of human existence. To them, it represented a significant
historical contribution owing to its link to racial issues in America.
For instance, Eliza refers to racial history in relation to plantations:
I think that plantations like the one here show the public the devel-
opment over a couple of hundred years both black and white, African
Americans and white Americans and red too . . . you know the First
Nations people, how they lived and worked together on this land.
Eliza views the site as a portrayal of not only the ills of chattel bond-
age but also as a life lesson on how peoples of various races coexisted
whether amicably or not. She opposes the preferred reading which
claims there is only one story to recount—that of the white enslavers
and their mansion—and rather acknowledges the fact that there are
numerous stories that constitute the site’s past. Jake also agrees that
the site is an exemplar of racial issues in America. He, however, ex-
plains the dominant ideology of the enslavers and describes the plan-
tation as a place:
. . . where people that believed blacks were inferior to whites . . . Well,
now they have this [points to the mansion] to show for society’s mis-
takes, just like the holocaust you see, we need to learn a lesson
here . . .
Jake’s allusion to a similar blunder within human history, the holo-
caust, is an interesting juxtaposition which he utilizes to justify his ped-
agogically based argument. Positioning the site as exemplar of past
accounts of white supremacism, he argues that it represents a social les-
son for today’s society. Similarly, Bob draws on advice provided to him
by a local friend to frame the site as illustrative of the racial dynamics in
America: ‘‘my buddy said if you want to know about race in this country
go visit the plantation, you’ll understand where it all stems from’’.
Thus, to members of this group, the site was not merely about a syn-
chronous history but a continual construction of the past in the pres-
ent. Some had read about issues of race in America while others had
been introduced to the topic through popular docudramas such as
Roots. For instance, drawing on popular culture, Lou states:
We’d only seen movies, like Roots, and Gone With the Wind. . . .we
wanted to see how . . . how the slaves—[trails off] . . . really how the
African American blacks and whites lived in this place . . . The house
is nice but the relationship here between blacks and whites is grand
in American history, wouldn’t you say?
Lou moves his gaze past the house to the more intangible and invis-
ible aspects of the plantation, race relations. Likewise, Eunice also dis-
cusses her interest in racial issues.
. . . this peaked our interest in the history of the black people in Amer-
ica and their existence under white rule, under slavery. We don’t have
a history like this in Canada . . . I mean our experience with the First
C.N. Buzinde, C.A. Santos / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 439–458 451

Nations people wasn’t the best but it can’t be compared to this with
the plantations and all. We were hoping to find out how the Africans
that were brought from Africa were, you know, treated and how they
helped build the place.
Given her relative lack of knowledge about American slave history,
Eunice sought to augment her awareness through the plantation visit
but was disappointed to discover that the issues she was interested in
and thought relevant were in fact not addressed. Overall, slavery and
race cognizance were not only filters through which participants viewed
the site, but also key motivators for travel. It should be noted that the
ease with which some visitors critiqued the site’s representation can
be attributed to their foreign status, as the following section illustrates.

Slavery as a Lesson for Humanity: Pedagogical Responsibility

Discussing elements that were lacking within the metanarrative,
Dean reflects on the overall landscape and tour narrative, and notes
the reluctance to incorporate the institution of slavery:
But I was thinking, the thing here is that there is nothing left of how
the slaves lived nor do they talk about them . . . the plantation is just
about the house, and . . . oh of course Archibald Rutledge. Don’t
get me wrong, I think he is interesting too for history and all. He
was what poet Laureate of the area, right? . . . but what about his
ancestors and their connection to slavery, what about slavery and this
place or province? . . . just that it would have been an interesting thing
to include . . . how many slaves were here, how they were treated here,
what they did, you know. Mhhh . . . maybe it’s a Canadian thing,
maybe America sees it different . . . who knows.
Dean is mystified by the annihilation of slavery in the masternarra-
tive; attributing his perplexity to the fact that he is a foreigner. He views
accounts of the white residents and the mansion as legitimate historical
events but points to a major aspect of the plantation that is missing
from the masternarrative. Likewise, Bob also reflects on the lack of fo-
cus on the African American experience within the tour narrative:
I thought that the . . . I don’t know, but I felt that the treatment of the
enormous riches that were gotten through slavery was not treated as
forcefully or strongly as I would hope it be.
In essence, Hampton’s discursive strategy of trivialization was de-
tected by foreign tourists who arguably are not confined by the local
socio-political order. To them, the site was unequivocally linked to
the history of chattel bondage; a historical lesson for humanity. Trudy
concurs with Bob:
Well . . . there wasn’t a whole lot said about slavery . . . But that’s an
important part of letting people know how the slaves were treated . . .
what would they have typically been provided with? You know and
things like that could have been incorporated a little bit into this tour
a little bit more, you know. This needs to be here regardless of how
bad it was.
452 C.N. Buzinde, C.A. Santos / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 439–458

Interestingly, while issues of slavery, within slavery heritage metanar-

ratives, have been excised based on the argument that tourists would
be offended (Dann and Seaton 2001), this group of participants wel-
comed its incorporation. They were aware of the abhorrent nature of
the issue but viewed it as an important message to convey to the public.
For instance, Patrick, a British social scientist, provides insight into how
slavery could be represented:
The main thing is to give information that is correct, that is accurate
that is not romanticized one way or another. Too many times the
point of view is slanted and I don’t know how you make such a hor-
rible thing objective anyway. It doesn’t matter how well slaves were
‘‘well treated’’ [quotes indicated by speaker] it doesn’t alter the fact that
they were slaves. It’s morally repulsive. So you know, it’s a fine man-
sion, it’s a beautiful plantation but founded on an immoral concept.
I think you just have to try and present it honestly . . .
Some constructed meanings of the site in tandem with socio-political
issues in America. They felt their understanding of the plantation
would illuminate current issues of race in America. For instance,
Andrew mentions:
We’re not sure about this but we kindah thought that this . . . shows
how things really are in this country today eh, between the blacks
and whites. I thought I would learn more on relationship between
the slaves and their owners . . . but I think I learnt more about the
relationship between blacks and whites now that still has some sore
wounds from the past.
Similarly, linking race politics to economic injustices, Gerard states:
I would have liked to see more about the slaves and their enslav-
ers . . . I don’t know it [the lack of focus on the institution of slavery]
explains a lot of things in terms of current attitudes and what the rela-
tionships are . . . you can see that . . . these kinds of places should help
people reflect upon the past and then address the current economic
and social inequities because they are valuable.
The Hampton, in Gerard’s view, should have enacted a didactic role
to help society heal past wounds and thus, facilitate the resolution of
contemporary social problems that emerged from the plantation era.
Much like others, Bob also refers to the link between past racial ineq-
uities and present racial biases in America:
I detect a layer of attitudes that existed two or three hundred years
ago, I detect them in 2006. Now being here I understand it more.
In Canada too, some of the things we did with the indigenous society
were quite bad too. So it’s good to see this and bring it into a current
state of affairs.
Discussing the implication for such selective and celebratory repre-
sentations, Patrick mentions that the issues have to be explicitly ad-
dressed in order to invoke positive and meaningful societal changes.
You cannot exercise present race relations in America from what you
see here on the plantation. This is just a continuation of a long racial
C.N. Buzinde, C.A. Santos / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 439–458 453

saga. How can they overcome racism when American history still over-
looks the contribution of the blacks that were enslaved on this soil?
Overall, the findings indicate that foreign tourists, albeit mostly from
a neighboring country, viewed the site as a locale within which a dialog
on race and racial issues in America ought to take place. Furthermore,
they viewed it as a lesson to humanity, a perspective addressed in
Ashworth’s (2002) discussion of the reasons why society commemo-
rates historical events. Notably, the understanding that the plantation
era is a didactic moment in the nation’s history resonates with many
Americans. Such perspectives provide fertile ground on which to sow
cosmopolitan ideals such as the construction of the nation’s first mu-
seum on slavery—the United States National Slavery Museum in Fred-
ericksburg, Virginia. Even politicians, who once veered away from this
taboo topic, are incorporating it in campaign speeches, as was the case
with President Barack Obama. Numerous positive changes have indeed
occurred in America and continue to break ground however, reflecting
on the lapsed time since the abolition of slavery juxtaposed against the
present socio-political order, one is forced to reckon with the fact that
there is still a lot for society to collectively accomplish. Change can
commence within slavery tourism sites wherein open dialog has the
powerful ability to foster national and global healing.


The preferred reading at the Hampton Plantation summoned tour-
ists to celebrate the culture of the planter families and their traditions
as symbols of national heritage. However, as active recipients of the
preferred reading, they interpreted the site in dichotomous polarized
ways; juxtaposing the dominant text to other socio-political discourses
and constructing their own meanings. They can be broadly sorted into
dominant publics and resistant publics; the former, decoded the site by
acquiescing to the preferred reading through a dominant view, while
the latter adopted an oppositional view. Notably, the negotiated view
did not resonate within the data; this is attributed to the transient nat-
ure of the participants and their relative social distance from the local
socio-political nexus that constitutes the site. In other words, the partic-
ipants were reasonably removed from the deep, socio-political nexus
that envelops the resident community of McClellanville in which the
plantation emerged and wherein locals (both white and black) are con-
stantly reminded of their contentious past and are faced with efforts to
harmoniously move forward. Had the locals been interviewed for this
study, the resonance of this socio-political complexity would likely have
emerged in the form of a negotiated decoding.
The emergence of the two key themes, is not unrelated to Ashworth’s
(2002) work wherein he proposes that heritage audiences theoretically
entail perpetrators, victims and cosmopolitans, however empirical evi-
dence often adheres to the latter two constructs; arguably, American
tourists can be viewed as victims in search of a sense of belonging and
purpose that has been destabilized by modernity while foreign tourists
454 C.N. Buzinde, C.A. Santos / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 439–458

can be classified as cosmopolitans, in search of lessons for humanity.

Members within each group constructed symbolic meanings based on
their expectations, judgments, assumptions and projections; all aligned
with the interpretive communities within which they are situated
(McQuail 2000). Interpretive communities share understandings of so-
cial reality and mediated content (Fish 1980). They share common
assumptions about how a given cultural text should be read or decoded
and adopt similar ideological predispositions needed in interpreting
their social settings (Zelizer 1993). Within this inquiry, the two interpre-
tive communities—dominant and oppositional—adopted distinct inter-
pretive strategies that rendered the plantation intelligible. They were,
nonetheless, similar in their adoption of interpretations endorsing a
certain dialogic ‘‘social performance’’ which built on intersubjective
meanings particular to their respective ‘‘imagined’’ communities (Fish
1980). Individual members possessed agency in that they shared a cer-
tain set of common values or beliefs that enabled them to decode the
Hampton in ways similar to their cohort, but also allowed minor per-
sonal variations based on their lived experiences.
The narratives adopted by the resistant publics drew on ‘‘ima-
ges . . . that seem to express the fundamental beliefs that Canadians
hold about themselves’’ (Francis 1997:10). By adopting these truisms,
these tourists provided continuity to the Canadian experience and
identity. Additionally, they incorporated the discursive strategy of mul-
ticulturalism which has differentiated them from their southern neigh-
bors (Francis 1997). At first, the sensitivity to issues of race and racism
exhibited can be viewed as an innocent yet virtuous act characteristic of
all progressive approaches; however, an in-depth look elicits that it is a
discursive strategy that evokes various virtues of Canadianism in reac-
tion to the American presence. Such strategic discursive constructions
of self are contingent upon the deficiencies of others and are referred
to as negative nationalism (Francis 1997). Another discursive strategy
adopted was that of humanitarianism in which participants displayed
‘‘an interest in memorialisation to prevent the reoccurrence of similar
atrocity’’ (Ashworth 2002:363). The ideological predispositions that
underpin these established interpretive narratives of multiculturalism
and humanitarianism provide comfort, convenience, and familiarity;
facilitating the affirmation and maintenance of self-definition.
Conversely, the dominant publics drew upon shared discourses
founded upon tropes of American memory and nationalism. They in-
voked public imaginings to reunite with the past through warm
thoughts of home and heritage. They fantasized about the past and
reconstructed nostalgic, mythical narratives that enabled them to main-
tain a positive and memorable suture to their ancestral ties; one that
was unmarred by the contentious past of slavery. Interestingly, one
can draw parallels between the nature of their interpretations and
those of African Americans journeying on the Diaspora route. Both
groups are in search of a pristine and nurturing ‘home’ which they
articulate by rendering any socio-political ills ‘‘irrelevant, even antithet-
ical, to [their] voyage of self discovery and nurturance’’ (Ebron
2000:920). For instance, as is illustrated in Ebron’s (2000) work, the
C.N. Buzinde, C.A. Santos / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 439–458 455

diasporic imaginings espoused by some African Americans exclude any

accounts of poverty or political instability as they pertain to the African
continent; this is not unlike the imaginings of the dominant publics
who invoked memories that silenced the slavery past. These groups
might differ in their recollections of the slavery past but by travelling
home, be it to the plantation or though a transatlantic journey to Afri-
ca, both reunite with their past—not factually, but through ‘‘con-
structed memory, fantasy, narrative and myth’’ (Hall 1996:226).
In decoding the plantation, participants engaged in dialogism as
they drew upon common assumptions, thoughts, value systems, prac-
tices and traditions characteristic of their interpretive communities
(Bakhtin 1981). They constructed their own meanings of the planta-
tion through discursive strategies of presencing/absencing and, as
such, endorsed certain discourses while disenfranchising the possibility
of others. The variance both within and outside the groups was attrib-
utable to the argument that all texts function as a response to texts that
have gone before, and in anticipation of a response from texts that will
be created in the future (Bakhtin 1981). In essence, the Hampton was
part of a larger cognitive backdrop which influenced the construction
of meaning as participants carried with them previous experiences
(Bruner 1994; Chronis 2005) while anticipating future occurrences.

This study sought to understand how preferred readings encoded
during production processes were decoded. Within this framework,
decodings were categorized as dominant, negotiated or oppositional
based on the degree of divergence from the original encoding (Hall
1980). The findings revealed evidence in support of the dominant
and oppositional frames. The absence of the negotiated frame is attrib-
uted to the fact that the participants were relatively removed from the
intricate socio-political nexus that defines the Hampton and its sur-
rounding community. Tourists who adopted a dominant frame acqui-
esced to the preferred reading while those who espoused an
oppositional approach opposed the dominant text. The site as a cul-
tural text was decoded by tourists based on the varying meaning struc-
tures and knowledge frameworks within which they were respectively
situated. In this sense, members within each group were viewed as
belonging to the same interpretive community wherein certain ele-
ments of a given cultural object or event were rendered meaningful
(Berkowitz and Terkeurst 1999). Each public was united through
shared mnemonic socialization, discursive strategies and collective
interpretations of the plantation and/or slavery.
In addition to the dominant ideologies promoted by various inter-
pretive communities, the act of interpretation is further complicated
by the notion of identity because, ‘‘to be a member of any human com-
munity is to situate oneself with regard to one’s past, if only by rejecting
it’’ (Olick and Robbins 1998:122). In fact, the articulation of a certain
cultural identity is often a key factor in the consumption of heritage
456 C.N. Buzinde, C.A. Santos / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 439–458

tourism (Breathnach 2006). Moreover, when tourists decide to visit a

site, they are choosing to partake in an experience that often becomes
a continuation of their psycho-social selves. It therefore follows that
individuals, be they dominant or resistant publics, construct meanings
which serve as a foundation on which to base their identities. These
meanings of the past are not static as they are constantly adjusted to
fit the needs of those who espouse them, while rejecting counter mean-
ings that could potentially threaten group identity (Breathnach 2006).
Slavery related sites are increasing enacting the role of representing
the past in inclusive ways which challenge the use of metannaratives to
deflect discussions of slavery (Alderman and Campbell 2008:353). This
task has been challenging as sites try to remove themselves from their
legacy of colonialism. This legacy has entailed ‘‘amongst other things,
the unequal power relation between majority and ethnic minority
groups within society, a relation affected by colonial history, western
domination of non-westerners and by the discourse of ‘Self’ and
‘Other’’’ (Lagerkvist 2006:52). As heritage audiences become increas-
ingly international and multicultural, slave related sites ought to craft
metanarratives that incorporate pluralistic perspectives. Representa-
tions focused on a tourist-centered ethos will allow for portrayals that
lure diverse populations and facilitate wider voice resonance within
depictions (Buzinde, Santos, and Smith 2006). Subsequent investiga-
tions are necessary to augment knowledge on how societies commem-
orate the plantation era. Such endeavors can commence by posing
questions such as: How do locals interpret plantation sites? And, how
are commemorated plantations constructing healing and holistic mes-
sages? These are important issues that could contribute to the global
dialogue on consumption of slavery related heritage.

Acknowledgements—The authors thank Edward Bruner, Cameron McCarthy and William

Stewart for their assistance on the earlier part of this project as well as the officials at
Hampton Plantation for access to the site.

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Available online at

Annals of Tourism Research, Vol. 36 No. 3, pp. 459–479, 2009
0160-7383/$ - see front matter Ó 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Printed in Great Britain

Xinran Y. Lehto
Purdue University, USA
Soojin Choi
Yong-In University, Korea
Yi-Chin Lin
National Kaohsiung Hospitality College, Taiwan
Shelley M. MacDermid
Purdue University, USA

Abstract: This study explores the unique interplay of family vacation travel, family cohesion,
and family communication through a sample of 265 family travelers. The results reveal that
family vacation contributes positively to family bonding, communication and solidarity. Fam-
ily interaction styles differ during the family leisure travel process. Two types of families are
identified differing on the dimension of cohesion, corresponding to separated and con-
nected families. Three types of families are identified differing on the dimension of adapta-
tion, corresponding to flexible, confused and structured families. This research represents an
attempt to use a unique theoretical framework to empirically assess family functioning in the
leisure travel setting. Keywords: family vacation, family functioning, family well-being, family
leisure, family adaptation and cohesion. Ó 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Despite changing family structures and demographics, family life con-
tinues to be important to Americans and family travel is perceived as an
important builder of family well-being (Chesworth 2003). Leisure travel
for families in many ways has become a necessity rather than a luxury.
According to a recent vacation survey conducted by
(2005), when Americans go on vacation, it is all about the family: A third
of respondents indicate that they spend most of their vacation time trav-
eling with their immediate family. The family travel market has grown
about 20% since 2001 according to a Travel Weekly family travel survey
(Travel Weekly 2005) and family vacations are _turning into a lucrative
niche for many travel businesses. Tourism practitioners including

Xinran Lehto is an Associate Professor in the Department of Hospitality and Tourism

Management, Purdue University (West Lafayette, in 47907, USA. Email: <xinran@pur->). Her research interests include family tourism. Soojin Choi is an Assistant
Professor at Department of Tourism at the Yong-in University. Yi-Chin Lin is an Assistant
Professor in the Graduate School of Hospitality Management, National Kaohsiung Hospitality
College. Shelly Macdermid is the Director of the Center for Families, Purdue University.

460 X.Y. Lehto et al. / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 459–479

hotels, cruise lines and resorts have responded to the growth of this
market by adding amenities, programs and activities designed specifi-
cally for families. Amidst the literature for vacation experience, how-
ever, family tourism has not received the same level of attention from
tourism researchers. The existing literature has mostly focused on
themes such as decision processes and roles (e.g., Seaton and Tagg
1995; Bohlmann and Qualls 2001; Mottiar and Quinn 2004; Decrop
2005), influences of parents and children (e.g., Kang, Hsu and Wolfe
2003), conflict resolution (e.g., Kang and Hsu 2005) and trip satisfac-
tion (e.g., Seaton and Tagg 1995; Gram 2005). While the practicality
of the focus on business or marketing perspectives is apparent, the fam-
ily as a travel consumption unit deserves broader scrutiny and has signif-
icant social implications. According to the Travel Industry Association
of America (2003), 86% of family vacationers believe that family leisure
travel plays an important role in maintaining family health, well-being
and lifestyle. The need to examine the linkages between family well-
being and family vacation has surged as particularly pertinent.
Most recently, the multitude of new technological advances such as mo-
bile technology and other communication services have drawn increasing
research attention to the structural changes in families and influences on
society at large induced by these technological factors (White and White
2007). While family vacation has traditionally been viewed as a unique
small group dynamic, where members in a family to a larger degree have
each other’s exclusive companionship and have minimal interference
from their usual life routines and social networks, the internet, cell phone
and other similar conveniences appear to have had a transforming effect
on how ‘‘home’’ and ‘‘away’’ are defined. White and White (2007) have
discovered that there has been a co-presence of ‘‘home’’ and ‘‘away’’ that
has had mixed consequences on tourists’ well-being. These changes fur-
ther underscore the importance of revisiting the family vacation dynamic,
its meaning, and its impact on family well-being. To date, insufficient
empirical research has been conducted with regard to the outcomes or
impact of family vacation experiences.
The impact of tourism, as a research subject, is not novel. It has
drawn substantial attention since the inception of tourism as a disci-
pline. Various theories and conceptual frameworks have been pro-
posed and empirically verified as to what the outcomes of tourism to
the destination communities and society at large may transpire. A large
quantity of research has focused on the positive and negative impacts
of tourism on destination communities (Cheong and Miller 2000;
McNaughton 2006; McKercher and Fu 2006 as some recent examples).
There has also been a recent surge of interest in examining the conse-
quences of leisure travel on individual tourists. Researchers have
started to assess leisure travel benefits on various tourist segments such
as seniors (e.g., Milman and Wei 2002) and patients (e.g., Hunter-
Jones 2005). The examination of the effects of tourism on the part
of the tourists has been somewhat intertwined with the concepts of
tourism motivations and the benefits sought from travel. This is prob-
ably because what initially motivates an individual to conduct leisure
travel is related to what this person expects to gain from a trip. While
X.Y. Lehto et al. / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 459–479 461

the large body of tourism motivational theories has lent great insights
for understanding the types of benefits tourists seek and experiences
or services tourism organizations need to provide, the current frame-
works are largely contingent upon individuals as consumption units.
Rarely do these models consider the family as a unit. In the case of fam-
ily vacation, while each individual member may seek their own out-
comes, their individual experiences and benefits sought tend to be
intertwined with and influenced by other traveling family members.
Gram has pointed out that ‘‘when considering family holidays it must
be kept in mind that the family is a unit of individuals who seek expe-
riences together. However, criteria of what is relevant content and what
allows for immersion and absorption are not necessarily the same’’
(2005:6). Researchers note that systematic examinations of family as
a small group dynamic in terms of family holiday consumption and
vacation outcomes are relatively neglected. This neglect has been
due, on the one hand, to the emphasis in the field placed on under-
standing of individual tourism consumers. On the other hand, the dif-
ficulties in gathering family consumption data and lack of proven
measurements have also been cited as some of the challenges facing
researchers in this area (Commuri and Gentry 2000).
As such, family interaction, cohesion and well-being in the context of
family vacation are especially pertinent. This research focused on the
relatively neglected socializing and interactivity among family members
in the tourism setting. The purpose of the study was to examine the
interaction and communication dynamics of family members as well
as family bonding and functioning in the vacation context. To be more
specific, this study aimed at providing insights into: 1) how family
members connect with each other in vacation context; 2) how families
interact with the changing environment; and 3) how family members
interact with each other in the family system during vacation. A total
of 265 vacationing families served as the study subjects. It is important
to note that this family sample is purposive and convenient in nature.
These families are mostly two parent families and are relatively affluent
and mostly Caucasian. We acknowledge and address these limitations
in the final section of this paper.


In American contemporary society, family is still considered the fun-
damental unit and quality family time has become ever more desired as
the hurried pace of life places stresses upon families. As a subject,
family time has drawn much research attention in family studies
(Harrington 2001). A multitude of theories indicate that for a family
to function well, ‘‘time spent together’’—indicating meaningful inter-
action—is key (e.g., Hill 1988; Shaw 1992; Harrington 2001; Major,
Klein and Ehrhart 2002) and shared leisure experiences within the
family system have consistently been shown to be valued by participants
in many leisure studies (e.g., Kelly 1977; Orthner and Mancini 1990;
Fox and Dwyer 1999; Gram 2005). The subject of family leisure has
462 X.Y. Lehto et al. / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 459–479

drawn significant attention from leisure and family researchers. Much

of the past research has examined the benefits of family leisure in
terms of such factors as family satisfaction and family bonding.
Researchers have theorized that shared leisure activities establish and
maintain boundaries in the family system (Orthner and Mancini
1991), enhance family unity (Shaw and Dawson 2001), promote collec-
tive interests and enhance communications among family members
(Shaw and Dawson 2001). All of these are salient factors for family
cohesion. Leisure experiences also act as new environmental stimuli
and introduce fresh input and energy for family system development.
A number of empirical studies have investigated the relationship be-
tween family leisure activity participation and family functioning vari-
ables such as cohesion, communication and satisfaction. Researchers,
for example, have examined the relationship between the level of
shared leisure participation of husbands and wives and the extent of
communication and task sharing in marriage. In his study of analyzing
leisure time of married couples during the parental stage of their life
cycle, Horna (1989, 1993) contends that parents view leisure as one
of the means through which the parental role is enacted. Family ori-
ented leisure and recreation activities are believed to encourage
togetherness and facilitate intra-family communication and child
socializing. Kelly and Kelly (1994) have discovered that a large percent-
age of adult leisure activities are learned within the family context. This
study lends strong support to the proposition that the family is the
main associational context of leisure learning. On the other hand,
the parent-child relationship is not the only one in which leisure plays
a part. Many opportunities for bonding between husbands, wives, sib-
lings, and other family members occur during leisure. Kelly (1983)
contends that, as a primary resource for familial development, leisure
activities are often expected to provide companionship for other family
members as well as husbands and wives. Orthner and Mancini (1991)
propose that companionship during leisure might be a vital compo-
nent in family stability. Using a phenomenological approach, Davidson
(1996) explores the meaning of holiday experience for women with
young children. Davidson discovers that two key benefits of holiday
for this sub population are reduction in pressure and sharing of time
in key relationships and roles. Most recently, Shaw and Dawson
(2001) challenged the adequacy of the current social psychological def-
initions of leisure in capturing or describing family leisure. According
to these researchers, family leisure is purposive rather than a freely
chosen form of leisure. It tends to be goal oriented and directed to-
ward particular extrinsic benefits such as teaching children about
healthy lifestyles and moral values.
Family leisure takes on various forms. According to Kelly (1983), one
form is informal leisure consisting of ongoing interactions that take
place mostly in and around the home. Another form occurs in orga-
nized and scheduled events. Such events may be perceived as desig-
nated high points of family interaction that lend meaning and
excitement. They tend to be events that require some planning and
anticipation as well as specific allocation of resources such as time
X.Y. Lehto et al. / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 459–479 463

(Kelly 1983). While acknowledging the pitfalls of measurement and

sampling framework of their study of family campers in Minnesota,
West and Merriam (1970) have found that shared outdoor recreation
helps sustain and increase family cohesiveness by inducing processes
of social interaction within a family. They have argued that families
tend to participate in outdoor activities together more than any other
type of activities, because outdoor recreation often provides unique
environments which isolate families from their normal social world,
thereby intensifying interaction and inducing a strong ‘‘we’’ feeling
in the group. In addition, such activity is usually a part of a larger trip
including planning, travel, and recollections which all provide occa-
sions for reinforcing the bonds of intimacy and is often ritualized by
the group members. As a multi-phase recreational experience, family
leisure travel provides family members unique settings far removed
from home, allows them greater flexibility in acting out roles, and of-
fers intensified human interaction among family members who are
traveling together (Mayo and Jarvis 1981).
Vacation represents an event of sustained and varied interaction.
Family vacation travel is much more than getting to a particular desti-
nation. It is a multi-dimensional phenomenon that involves planning,
anticipation, trip experience and post trip recollection (Fridgen 1984).
All these elements provide family members with an interactive space
that represents a reconfiguration of interpersonal distance. For in-
stance, some parents testify that just being together in the car with
no distracting tasks or interference provides a singular opportunity
for communication, especially with older children (Kelly 1983). In this
sense, among the wide range of leisure activities that facilitate familial
interactions, family vacation is a unique form of family leisure, given
this new relativity of space and relationships.
While much family research has consistently examined the leisure
patterns in families and reported a positive relationship between the ex-
tent of shared leisure time or experiences and positive family outcomes,
there are relatively few empirical efforts to understand the influence of
any specific leisure/recreation activity on the family variables. Although
families are perceived as one of the fastest growing travel market seg-
ments (Carnival 2004), there has been insufficient empirical investiga-
tions on the interplay of vacationing together as a family unit and
relational dynamics within the family system (e.g., cohesiveness and
adaptability of a family unit). This study attempts to fill this void by
examining how family leisure travel helps improve family bonding
and strengthens family boundaries, and how family members relate
and adapt to each other during the entire vacation spectrum, that is,
vacation planning, actual vacation trip and post-trip recollection.

Family Vacation Decision Making

The family vacation literature has largely focused on the themes of
decision processes and roles. Researchers note that family vacation
decision making generally follows three styles: husband dominant, wife
464 X.Y. Lehto et al. / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 459–479

dominant, and joint decision making, but family decision styles vary
depending on family situational dynamics and vacation types. Children,
wives, and past decision experiences seem to exert influences on family
decision making and satisfaction. Decrop (2005) contrasts formal
groups related by blood or marriage (e.g., couples and families) and
informal groups (e.g., friends). He notes that formal groups and infor-
mal groups make decisions in different ways and that children have
influence on what people chose to do on vacation. Seaton and Tagg
(1995) conclude that children’s involvement in the decision making
process can improve family vacation satisfaction. According to Darley
and Lim (1986), children have different levels of influence depending
on the type of leisure activities: family movie-attendance, family outing
(e.g., picnics), and family sports. They have also observed that the chil-
dren’s age has the strongest impact on parental perception of the chil-
dren’s influence. Mottiar and Quinn (2004) have found that although
joint decisions are dominant in the overall consumption process, wives
play a significant role in the early stage of the decision process by col-
lecting information for the household. The authors advocate that the
tourism industry should pay attention to women since they act as a
‘‘gatekeeper’’ for tourism products. Howard and Madrigal (1990) con-
clude that mothers shape the participation decision in the purchase of
public recreation services for their children; children then make their
final decisions about those programs based on their mother’s decision.
Another discussion point rests with group consensus and conflict in
family decision making. Kang and Hsu (2004, 2005) have investigated
spousal interpersonal-conflict and resolution modes in determining a
family vacation destination. The authors discover that information
gathering and family discussion induce higher levels of satisfaction
among couples. Teenage children sometimes play the role of informa-
tion gatherer when a family encounters conflict in selecting a vacation
destination. Bohlmann and Qualls (2001) identify two types of discon-
firmation that impact individual preferences arising from family inter-
action or discussion: informational disconfirmation and preference
disconfirmation. They have found that disconfirmation is a significant
explanatory factor for individual family member preferences and
household preference.

Family as a System
Orthner and Mancini (1991) posit that family system theory offers
potentially useful insights into relationships between leisure and family
variables. This theory assumes that families seek balance between
mutuality and differentiation. Because systems are made up of differ-
ent members, each with their own needs, this leads to a tendency for
systems to spin off differentiated system elements. At the same time,
family systems have boundaries that define the extent to which the sys-
tem will permit members to exit in the system or system products to
merge with those of other systems. In other words, a family bond
accommodates some differentiation between family members,
X.Y. Lehto et al. / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 459–479 465

encourages mutuality of interests and requires effective communica-

tion to maintain this balance within the family system. It is also impor-
tant for systems to have stimulation so that new sources of excitement
and energy can encourage the system to make changes for the better-
ment of the system over time.
Based on the family system theory, a number of models have been
developed. One of the most widely used is the Circumplex Model of Mar-
ital and Family Systems (Olson 2003). The Circumplex Model revolves
around two main dimensions of family cohesion and adaptability and
resultant relationships hypothesized with family functioning. A third
dimension of this model is communication. Communication facilitates
movement along the two central dimensions—cohesion and adaptabil-
ity. Cohesion is defined as ‘‘the emotional bonding that family members
have toward one another’’ (Olson 2003:514). The variables used to diag-
nose and measure family cohesion dimensions are emotional bonding,
boundaries, coalitions, time, space, friends, decision making, interests
and recreation. Cohesion focuses on how systems balance separateness
(differentiation) and togetherness (mutuality). Adaptability is related to
a family’s flexibility and is defined as ‘‘the amount of change in its lead-
ership, role relationships and relationship rules’’ (Olson 2003:519).
This dimension refers to the family system’s need to change, to be flex-
ible, or to adapt and learn from different experiences and situations.
The variables for the measurement and diagnosis of family adaptability
dimension include family power (assertiveness, control, discipline),
negotiation style, role relationships and relationship rules.
The Circumplex Model is a classification system that represents dif-
ferent family types on a two-dimensional map in which the horizontal
axis corresponds to the level of cohesion and vertical axis to adaptabil-
ity. Each dimension has four levels respectively describing the degree
of cohesion and adaptability. As a result, the Circumplex model has
16 compartments with each representing a different family function-
ing type. The mid-range compartments—flexibly connected, flexibly
cohesive, structurally connected, and structurally cohesive—are con-
sidered as healthy, while the other compartments are considered
unbalanced and unhealthy (Olson 2003). A self-report instrument
called FACES (Family Adaptability and Cohesion Evaluation Scales)
was designed to adequately assess the major dimensions of the Cir-
cumplex Model and other related concepts proposed by Olson and
his colleagues.
By adopting Olson’s FACES II (Olson, McCubbin, Barnes, Larsen,
Muxen and Wilson 1992), this study attempts to

(1) Investigate how the family system works in the family travel context,
that is, how family members interact and bond with each other dur-
ing family vacation planning and the actual vacation;
(2) Understand the underlying dimensions of family cohesion and
adaptation in the family vacation context and compare those with
the classification schemes of Olson’s Marital and Family Systems;
466 X.Y. Lehto et al. / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 459–479

(3) Identify typologies of family interaction and functioning styles

exhibited during family vacation.

Study Method
In order to understand the interface of leisure travel and family func-
tioning, purposive sampling methods were used. Family travelers were
targeted for the purpose of this study. The family traveler database of
one of the largest travel clubs based in the Midwest region of the Uni-
ted States was used. A travel club is a tourism business that provides
vacation services to its membership based customers. The survey time
frame was between March and July 2005 corresponding to the interval
when most family vacations occurred. A total of 314 families were in-
vited to fill out a self-administered survey by the travel club tour man-
agers. Each family was asked to fill out one questionnaire. A total of 265
valid questionnaires were returned, yielding an 84.4% response rate.
The survey instrument used in this study was composed of two main
sections: demographic information and the scale of Family Function
and Leisure Travel (FFLT), adopted from FACES II (Olson et al
1992). Demographic items included gender, household role (e.g.,
father, mother, daughter, son), age group, annual family income, eth-
nic origin, marital status, occupation, and education. The FFLT was
used to measure the cohesion and adaptation constructs in the family
travel context using a five-point scale (1 = almost never, 2 = once in a
while, 3 = sometimes, 4 = frequently, and 5 = almost always). The origi-
nal FACES II contains 30 items, 16 of which are related to cohesion
and 14 are about adaptation. The cohesion construct has seven dimen-
sions: emotional bonding, family boundaries, coalitions, time, space,
decision-making, and interests and recreation. The adaptation con-
struct possesses six dimensions: assertiveness, leadership, discipline,
negotiation, roles and rules. After some modifications to fit into the
travel context, 16 statement items were retained for assessing family
cohesion during the vacation experience and another 15 statement
items were used for measuring family adaptation. A few examples of
the cohesion measurement statements are: ‘‘Traveling together makes
our family ties stronger’’, ‘‘Family members feel close to each other
while traveling together’’ and ‘‘While traveling, family members share
interests and experiences with each other.’’(Table 1 contains all 16
items used to measure the cohesion construct). A few examples of
the adaptation items are ‘‘When planning a trip, family members say
what they want’’, ‘‘In my family, there is less discipline of children than
usual while on family vacation’’ and ‘‘When planning a trip, family
members are afraid to say what is on their minds’’ (Table 2 contains
all 15 items used to measure the adaptation construct).
The obtained data were analyzed using SPSS 12.0 for Windows.
Descriptive statistics were used to profile the characteristics of the sam-
pled family travelers. Principle components analyses with varimax rota-
tion were computed to identify the factors underlying the cohesion
and adaptation constructs respectively. Exploratory factor analyses
X.Y. Lehto et al. / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 459–479 467

Table 1. Factors of Cohesion

Cohesion Factor loading Mean

Factor 1:Emotional bonding

Traveling together makes our family ties .81 4.44
Our family travels together well .76 4.45
Family members feel close to each other .74 4.49
while traveling together
While traveling, family members share .73 4.31
interests and experiences with each
Traveling with family members is quality .69 4.58
time well spent
Family members are supportive of each .63 4.52
other during leisure trips
While traveling together, family .62 3.98
members respect each other’s
personal time and space
Tension within my family is more .61 3.57
relaxed while traveling together
Traveling together as a family makes us .58 4.24
closer to each other
Eigenvalue = 6.24, Variance explained = 29.40%, Cronbach’s a = 0.89

Factor 2:Coalition and decision-making/functional bonding

While traveling, family members pair up .75 2.35
rather than do things as a total family.
While traveling together, my family .64 3.94
enjoys participating in the same
In our family, everyone goes his/her own .59 1.94
way when it comes to leisure travel
While traveling, family members go .58 4.14
along with what the family decides to
When planning a trip, family members .49 3.83
consult other family members on
personal decisions
Eigenvalue = 1.46, Variance explained = 14.15%, Cronbach’s a = 0.68

Factor 3:Family boundaries

It is easier to plan a trip with people .81 1.87
outside the family than with my family
It is easier to travel with people outside .84 2.00
the family than with my family
Eigenvalue = 1.22, Variance explained = 12.20%, Cronbach’s a = 0.78

Total variance explained: 55.75%

468 X.Y. Lehto et al. / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 459–479

Table 2. Factors of Adaptation

Adaptation Factor loading Mean

Factor 1:Discipline and rules

While traveling, the rules in my family .80 2.11
We have different approaches to .74 1.97
discipline children during vacation
In my family, the roles of family .71 1.84
members change while on vacation
While traveling, the rules in my family .66 1.61
are not clear
In my family, there is less discipline of .59 2.91
children than usual while on vacation
Eigen value = 3.97, Variance explained = 18.12%, Cronbach’s a = 0.78

Factor 2:Assertiveness
When planning a trip, family members .81 4.29
say what they want
It is easy for everyone to express his/her .74 4.32
opinion while traveling together
When planning a trip, family members .71 1.51
are afraid to say what is on their minds
In my family, it is easy for everyone to .64 4.18
express his/her opinion when
planning a trip
Eigen value = 2.71, Variance explained = 16.61%, Cronbach’s a = 0.78

Factor 3:Leadership/Syncretism
In planning a trip, the children’s .76 3.27
suggestions are followed
Each family member has input regarding .75 3.99
major travel decisions
In my family, everyone shares .63 2.97
responsibilities when planning a trip
Eigen value = 1.21, Variance explained = 13.15%, Cronbach’s a = 0. 67

Factor 4:Negotiation
My family tries new ways of dealing with .74 2.66
problems while traveling together
On vacation, family members make .73 3.74
compromises when problems arise
While traveling, family members discuss .57 3.66
problems and feel good about the
Eigen value = 1.05, Variance explained = 11.67%, Cronbach’s a = 0.57

Total variance explained: 59.56%

were conducted instead of confirmatory factor analyses. This choice of

statistical technique warrants some explanations. Although the
X.Y. Lehto et al. / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 459–479 469

dimensions of cohesion and adaptation have been well tested and

established in the original FACES II (Olson et al 1992), they were, how-
ever, for the first time being modified and adopted into the leisure tra-
vel context. Therefore, the dimensionality of these constructs could
vary or differ. When conducting exploratory factor analysis, a factor
was to be retained if it carried an eigenvalue greater than one and each
item’s factor loading was higher than 0.40 and did not cross-load on
more than one factor. Reliability tests which yielded Cronbach’s alpha
values were performed on all factors to examine their respective inter-
nal consistency.
At the next stage, two separate cluster analyses were performed on
the resulting factors to identify groups of family travelers who re-
sponded similarly to the cohesion or adaptation dimensions. The
decision to perform two separate cluster analyses (one based on cohe-
sion statements and one on adaptation statements) instead of one
cluster analysis with both dimension statements included was based
on the fact that cohesion and adaptation are two distinctly different
constructs. Analysis of the two separate clusters allowed better revela-
tion of sub-clusters of cohesion and adaptation respectively. For each
cluster analysis, a two-stage cluster procedure was adopted (Punj and
Stewart 1983). In the first stage, hierarchical cluster analysis using the
average linkage method was followed to detect the number of clusters.
In the second stage, the number of clusters determined in stage one
was used for K-means clustering. To further validate the groupings
resulting from the cluster analyses, discriminant analyses were per-
formed on the cluster memberships. One-way ANOVA analyses with
Tukey post hoc tests were employed to pinpoint the actual group
The majority of respondents are female (65.3%), married (70.6%),
Caucasian (94.0%), and above 45 years of age (57.8%). Two thirds of
the respondents (67.2%) have an educational level above a bachelor’s
degree and a little more than a third of them (39.2%) hold profes-
sional positions. In addition, 36% of respondents report their annual
household income greater than US $200,000.

Family Functioning During Vacation Experience

This research assesses family functioning during the vacation experi-
ence from two perspectives, family cohesion and family adaptation.
The sampled families ranked the following cohesion statements highly:

(1) Traveling with family members is quality time well spent

(Mean = 4.58);
(2) Family members are supportive of each other during leisure trips
(Mean = 4.52);
(3) Family members feel very close to each other while traveling
together (Mean = 4.49);
(4) Our family travels together well (Mean = 4.45);
(5) Traveling together makes our family ties stronger (Mean = 4.44);
470 X.Y. Lehto et al. / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 459–479

(6) While traveling, family members share interests and experiences

with each other (Mean = 4.31);
(7) Traveling together as a family makes us closer to each other
(Mean = 4.24);
(8) While vacationing, family members go along with what the family
decides to do (Mean = 4.14);
(9) While traveling together, family members respect each other’s per-
sonal time and space (Mean = 3.98); and
(10) While traveling together, my family enjoys participating in the
same activities (Mean = 3.94).

Eight of the above ten cohesion items are related to the emotional
bonding concept. Traveling with family appears to be perceived as
quality time well spent, strengthening family ties and contributing to
connectedness of family members. In other words, the respondents be-
lieve that leisure travel can play a role in enhancing or sustaining rela-
tionships between family members. This finding is consistent with
previous literature on the role of family leisure on family ties (Davidson
1996). Two other items (#8 and #10) are related to the concept of coa-
lition. It appears that family members tend to form group consensus
and share common experiences during family vacation.
The sampled families ranked the following family adaptation items
more positively:

(1) It is easy for everyone to express his/her opinion when traveling

together (Mean = 4.32);
(2) When planning a trip, family members say what they want
(Mean = 4.29);
(3) It is easy for everyone to express his/her opinions when planning a
trip (Mean = 4.18);
(4) Each family member has input regarding major travel decisions
(Mean = 3.99);
(5) On vacation, family members compromise when problems arise
(Mean = 3.74);
(6) While traveling, family members discuss problems and feel good
about solutions (Mean = 3.66),
(7) When planning a trip, family members are afraid to say what is on
their minds (Mean = 1.51, reversed wording);
(8) In planning a trip, the children’s suggestions are followed
(Mean = 3.27).

The top three evaluative items of adaptation seem to be related to

the assertiveness concept. The respondents believe that family vacation
offers a good opportunity for the freedom to express and receive opin-
ions, a form of unstructured communication within a family during
directional time, which is healthy for family functioning (Orthner
and Mancini 1991). The concept of negotiation also seems to be rela-
tively prominent. Vacationing together is perceived as an opportunity
to derive mutual compromises and allow negotiations for problem
X.Y. Lehto et al. / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 459–479 471

solving solutions (#5 and #6). Individual and the children’s input ap-
pear to be taken into account for vacation planning and decision mak-
ing (#4 and #8). This result is consistent with previous researchers’
sentiments that joint decision making with input from children is the
more popular decision making style (Kang and Hsu 2004, 2005). Over-
all, family communication is perceived as important for family mem-
bers at the vacation planning stage and during the actual family
vacation. Family communication is perceived as well facilitated through
this shared leisure experience.
With respect to factor analysis of the cohesion construct, its 16
items yielded three factors, which explained about 56% of the vari-
ance (Table 1). After examining the measurement items under each
factor, these three factors were named as: ‘‘emotional bonding
(a = 0.89)’’, ‘‘family boundaries (a = 0.78)’’, ‘‘coalitions and decision
making/functional bonding (a = 0.68)’’ respectively. Comparing the
resulting three factors with the theoretical concepts of cohesion,
items of the family boundaries factor were completely consistent with
the findings of Olson, Russell and Sprenkle (1983). However, two
originally separated concepts with respect to ‘‘emotional bonding’’
and ‘‘time’’ were merged into one factor, emotional bonding. More-
over, while coalition and decision-making were two different concepts
according to Olson, in this study they were merged into one factor as
‘‘coalition and decision-making/functional bonding’’. Results showed
that the total internal consistency of the cohesion construct was an
acceptable 0.80.
Four factors related to the adaptation construct were derived from
15 items, explaining about 60% of variance (Table 2). These four fac-
tors were labeled as ‘‘discipline and rules (a = 0.78)’’, ‘‘assertiveness
(a = 0.78)’’, ‘‘leadership or syncretism (a = 0.67)’’, and ‘‘negotiation
(a = 0.57).’’ Regarding the four resulting factors of adaptation, the
items of the assertiveness and negotiation factors were completely
consistent with the items of the two respective constructs developed
by Olson et al (1983). The factor of ‘‘discipline and rules’’ included
the items originating from three different concepts. Two items were
from the original FASE II ‘‘discipline’’ concept (‘‘We have different
approaches to discipline children while traveling as a family’’ and
‘‘In my family, there is less discipline of children than usual while
on vacation’’). Another two items were from the ‘‘rules’’ concept
(‘‘While traveling, the rules in my family are not clear’’ and ‘‘While
traveling, the rules in my family change’’). The final item was from
the original ‘‘roles’’ concept (‘‘In my family, the roles of family mem-
bers change while on vacation’’). The items of the leadership/syncre-
tism factor contained two items originating from the FASE II
leadership concept (‘‘In planning a trip, the children’s suggestions
are followed’’ and ‘‘Each family member has input regarding major
travel decisions’’) and one item from the original ‘‘roles’’ concept
(‘‘In my family, everyone shares responsibilities when planning a
trip’’). The results showed that the total internal consistency of adap-
tation was an acceptable 071.
472 X.Y. Lehto et al. / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 459–479

Segmenting Family Travelers by Functioning Styles

In order to examine the variability in family leisure travel function-
ing styles, two separate two-stage cluster analyses were conducted based
on the family cohesion items and the family adaptation items respec-
tively. Two distinctive groups with respect to cohesion were identified
by the two-stage cluster analyses. Cohesion cluster 1 was named as ‘‘sep-
arated’’ (N = 81) and cluster 2 was labeled ‘‘connected’’ (N = 184).
The two group solution was further supported by the follow-up discrim-
inant analysis. Canonical discriminant functions were: Wilk’s Lamb-
da = 0.28, Chi-square = 329.15, df = 3, p-value = .000. The classification
matrices of respondents showed that 100% of the 265 cases were
correctly classified. This further verified the legitimacy of the two
cluster solutions of cohesion. Independent sample t-tests were used
to examine the differences between the two clusters in terms of three
factors of cohesion. The results indicated that the factors of ‘‘coali-
tion and decision-making’’ (T = 3.54, P = 0.001; Mcluster 1 = 3.59,
Mcluster 2 = 4.08), and ‘‘family boundaries’’ (T = 19.74, P = 0.000;
Mcluster 1 = 3.23, Mcluster 2 = 1.37) were significantly different for the
two clusters.
Members of cluster 1 (Separated) found it easier to plan and travel
with people outside the family than with their own family members.
While traveling with their families, they were likely to pair up rather
than doing things as one whole family unit. Respondents falling in clus-
ter 2 (Connected) indicated that they preferred to plan and travel with
their family members. In addition, they tended to consult other family
members on personal decisions, participate in the same sets of activi-
ties, and go along with what the family decides to do. Members of both
the ‘‘Separated’’ and ‘‘Connected’’ clusters, however, acknowledged
family vacations as an opportunity to bond with each other as attested
by the insignificant differences between these two cluster groups
(T = 0.85, P = 0.40) and high mean values of the bonding factor for
both groups (Mcluster 1 = 4.05, Mcluster 2 = 4.39).
With regard to adaptation, three distinctive family groups were iden-
tified. The three adaptation clusters were labeled as ‘‘flexible’’
(N = 68), ‘‘confused’’ (N = 83), and ‘‘structured’’ (N = 114). Two
canonical discriminant functions were calculated (Function 1: Wilk’s
Lambda = 0.187, Chi-square = 463.86, df = 8, p-value = .000. Function
2: Wilk’s Lambda = 0.44, Chi-square = 215.45, df = 3, p-value = .000).
The classification matrices of respondents indicated that 98.5% of
the 265 cases were correctly classified, further verifying the validity of
the three-cluster solution. One-way ANOVA analyses revealed that all
factors of adaptation were significantly different among the three clus-
ters. The Tukey tests further pinpointed where the significances were
positioned. Cluster 3 respondents (Structured) believed that family
rules and discipline were clear and fixed while on vacation, and they
were less negotiable than cluster 1(Flexible) and cluster 2 (Confused).
Comparatively speaking, cluster 1 (Flexible) is the most relaxed in
rules and discipline. Family members in cluster 1(Flexible) and 3
(Structured) tended to express their opinions freely and discuss their
X.Y. Lehto et al. / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 459–479 473

decisions with each other both during trip planning as well as during
the actual vacation. There was no significant difference between cluster
1 (Flexible) and 3 (Structured) in the assertiveness and leadership
dimensions. With respect to cluster 2 (Confused), members exhibited
moderate discipline and rules during family vacation, but tended to
feel uneasy about expressing their opinions or make suggestions to
their family members either during trip planning or the actual

This study has empirically examined the usefulness of family travel as
a means to enhance family functioning. The results indicate that vaca-
tion activities provide unique opportunities for interaction among fam-
ily members, as well as for interaction of the family system with its
changing environment. This interaction offers new input, energy,
and motivation needed for continued family system development
(Orthner and Mancini 1991). Furthermore, it facilitates the flow of
information through the system, creates memorable experiences for
archival comparisons, and provides a context for ongoing monitoring
of its members’ functioning. The vacation-induced exchanges within a
family and between a family and the environment provide useful
empirical validation to Fridgen’s (1984) observation of linkages be-
tween tourism and environmental psychology.
Although a number of scholars have proposed, implicitly or explicitly,
that family holiday making may foster family bonding and relieve stress,
the relationship of vacation and family functioning has been a subject of
relatively insufficient research. A noticeable amount of discussion on
family vacation benefits is speculative and lacks empirical evidence. This
research, while exploratory in nature, offers empirical evidence regard-
ing the unique interplay between the family vacation and family func-
tioning. This research also is a first attempt towards developing and
establishing a measurement scale of Family Function and Leisure Travel
(FFLT). Overall, the results indicate that family vacation contributes
positively to family bonding, communication and solidarity. The find-
ings provide support for the theoretical link between family leisure tra-
vel and family functioning. From the perspective of cohesion, this
research indicates that family leisure travel promotes bonding. With re-
gard to adaptability, family travel plays a role in facilitating family com-
munication. This research further indicates that family functioning
styles and types are varied in the vacation context. To a large extent,
the results confirm the elements of the cohesion and adaptation con-
structs proposed by Olson’s family circumplex model. Although test-ret-
est reliability and content validity studies of the FFLT instrument are
needed for construct validity, this study represents a beginning step to-
wards empirically examining the family communication and bonding
dynamic in light of family vacation.
The role of family holiday making in the research arena of family
time warrants deliberations. American families intensely feel the
474 X.Y. Lehto et al. / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 459–479

squeeze on family time (Jacobs 2003). It is well known that American

employees receive substantially less paid vacation than Europeans.
The average American works 46.2 weeks per year, while for instance
the French average 40 weeks per year (Green and Potepan 2008). Fam-
ily time, however, is considered critical for family well-being. Research
in this domain has empirically demonstrated that the amount and the
quality of family time contribute to child development and emotional
well-being (e.g., Barber and Erickson 2001; Hofferth and Sandberg
2001), marital stability (Presser 2000) and family identity formation (Fi-
ese, Tomcho, Douglas, Josephs, Poltrock and Baker 2002). In this con-
text, investigation of how time spent on family vacation is associated
with family well-being is particularly pertinent. Family vacations can
be understood as a unique form of leisure involvement. It can be
viewed as a unique small group dynamic, where members in a family
to a larger degree have each other’s exclusive companionship, with
minimal interference from the usual daily routine and social network.
That is, family members are temporarily detached from their usual
work, school or other social networks. This situation usually represents
a new configuration of mental space and physical distance among fam-
ily members. The outcomes of this research indicate that family vaca-
tion appears to be perceived by participants as time well spent. This
finding attests to Gram’s (2005) assertion that family vacation produces
intense and memorable experiences.
Taking a family vacation should enhance family well-being in many
ways. One important contribution could be in the area of family bond-
ing. By allowing family members to socialize in a new setting where they
are freed from their routine roles and responsibilities, leisure travel
presents a unique opportunity for family members to bond and inter-
act in new ways. All theories of family interaction hold that shared
enjoyable experiences contribute greatly to family bonding. Such expe-
riences become strong memories that can be relieved over and over
again. They also lead to traditions, discussions, and other efforts to re-
peat the enjoyable experience, in which the bond is reawakened and
reinforced. To that end, family vacation as a special form of leisure pre-
sents as a wonderful opportunity to strengthen what researchers in
family studies call the ‘‘crescive’’ bond (L’Abate and Baggett 1997).
That is, a growing bond that is intrinsically durable. By providing a
shared experience, a family vacation may also build shared attitudes
among family members. Shared experiences and attitudes help to
make the family members think in terms of ‘‘we’’ instead of ‘‘I’’ and
‘‘you’’ and play a role in forming a strong sense of family. For instance,
the development and emergence of these feelings and bonds between
parent and child or grandparent and grandchild may well become one
of the most effective bases for continuing relationships after the depen-
dency bond has been dissolved or weakened.
From a practical perspective, an important implication would be the
recognition of the family vacation as a valuable contributor to family
cohesion and adaptation. This research suggests a fresh perspective
for the tourism industry to rethink its role in improving the quality
of family life. To maximize the utility of the family vacation, the
X.Y. Lehto et al. / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 459–479 475

knowledge of how families function while on vacation is particularly

pertinent to industry practitioners. For instance, the fact that there
are different family functioning styles on vacation indicates different
needs are to be fulfilled through vacation. As a result of the variety
of needs exhibited by families, there are new opportunities for industry
practitioners to design and configure destination activity programs and
packages that are better suited for family interaction, and thus enhanc-
ing the satisfaction level of family travelers. Tourism practitioners have
undoubtedly jumped on the family travel bandwagon. Hotels, cruise
lines and resorts have been aggressively targeting and expanding their
shares of the family market by adding amenities and activities tailor-de-
signed for families. Some of the pioneering efforts targeting family
travelers include Hyatt’s ‘‘Club Hyatt program’’ and the marketing
programs offered to children by Radisson, Holiday Inn and Four Sea-
sons. Another example is the Hilton Hotels and Resorts. Tapping into
the family-travel market, Hilton gives all children a canvas bag with an
insulated compartment to hold lunch or snacks, a mesh-net drink
holder on the side and an extra pocket for kids to stow all the goodies
they carry for fun on the road. These industry initiated efforts, how-
ever, appear to treat children’s need and adults as two separate entities.
This research, on the other hand, points to the need to understand
family vacation as one consumption unit. That is, activities and pro-
grams that can actively engage both the parents and children and pro-
vide ample opportunities for them to interact can be appreciated by
the family travelers. It has been noted, however, there may be differ-
ences in perceived needs between parents and children (Gram
2005). How to create joint experiences where parents and children
are immersed in activities together can be intriguing.
This study, in a broad sense, contributes to the conceptual and the-
oretical development in the field of leisure and family research. Vaca-
tions can be viewed as a special domain of leisure. The specific
characteristics associated with tourism dictate that special attention
needs to be paid in this area. The outcome of this research can logi-
cally be viewed as an extension and application of leisure benefit the-
orization into the tourism domain. Within the realm of tourism, this
research extends and expands the tourism motivation and benefit re-
search into the family context. A family vacation represents a small
group dynamic where interactivity of the traveling family members
are an integral part of the vacation experience. In this context, the
value of vacation extends beyond the border of the individual and
permeates into the family system.
The application of the scale of Family Function and Leisure Travel
(FFLT) extends beyond tourism management and plays a role in
understanding family interaction and communication in an away-
from-home environment. Now more than ever, new approaches to
enhancing family well-being and functioning are being sought. This
study has attested that family vacation can make unique contributions.
Consequently, the FFLT may be of value to family research in general,
and family therapy in specific. It provides a new context for examining
and advising on family functioning.
476 X.Y. Lehto et al. / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 459–479

While the results of this research provide an initial investigation into the
dynamic elements of family functions in the tourism context, it should be
kept in mind, that this sample includes only families with financial re-
sources and interests in taking leisure trips and therefore represents a
selective group of households. A potential pitfall is that this research does
not address the evolution of family structure in recent years such as in-
creases in single parent households and recomposed families. These fac-
tors could have major impact on vacation patterns and family functioning.
A related limitation lies in the fact that the sample includes only relatively
affluent and mostly Caucasian families. All these families were from the
same traveling club. Caution must be excised in generalizing these results
given the nature of our sampled population. A third limitation of this re-
search is that the study is cross-sectional and evaluative rather than longi-
tudinal or observational; the direction of relationship between family
bonds and family leisure travel could be questioned (Holman and Jacqu-
art 1988). Another similar challenge is that the structured survey ap-
proach utilized for this research. While being able to better quantify
family vacation and interaction dynamic, this approach can potentially
risk falling into the trap of not being able to discern between ideals of fam-
ily togetherness and the actual practices of family vacationing. To combat
these uncertainties, future study should and can be designed using a
short-term longitudinal approach. A final limitation of the current study
is our measurement of family functioning dynamics in terms of the family
as a whole on the basis of the perspective of just one family member. Fu-
ture study on this topic, when possible, should adopt an approach to incor-
porate multiple family members’ perspectives.

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Submitted 14 April 2007. Resubmitted 1 November 2007. Resubmitted 25 November 2008.

Final Version 31 March 2009. Accepted 2 April 2009. Refereed anonymously. Coordinating
Editor: Jens Jacobsen

Available online at

Annals of Tourism Research, Vol. 36, No. 3, pp. 480–501, 2009
0160-7383/$ - see front matter Ó 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Printed in Great Britain

Harng Luh Sin
National University of Singapore, Singapore

Abstract: Voluntourism or volunteer tourism is increasingly available and popular amongst

everyday tourists in different parts of the world. Despite its seeming virtue and it often being
positioned as a form of ‘‘justice’’ or ‘‘goodwill’’ tourism, critics in the public media have
begun to question and criticize the effectiveness or ‘‘real’’ value of volunteer tourism. How-
ever, academic work has not yet critiqued volunteer tourism in the same manner. This paper
thus provides a critical and timely review of volunteer tourism, using interviews and partici-
pant observation with 11 respondents on a volunteer tourism trip to South Africa. This paper
reviews volunteer tourists’ motivations (what prompted their participation); performances of
the ‘‘self’’ in volunteer tourism; and the tensions and paradoxes surrounding volunteer tour-
ism. Keywords: Voluntourism, volunteer tourism, motivation, performances, Singapore,
South Africa. Ó 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


The pitch is simple. Instead of two weeks sipping wine somewhere

comfortable, somewhere scenic, put your money to better use and vol-
unteer your labour to a Third World charity or an aid agency. The
idea oozes with virtue. And when something sounds so good, I get
bothered. For one thing, I have to wonder what real value volunteer
tourists offer their hosts.
The cynic in me suspects that these short-timers take home more
from their slumming in the Third World than leave behind for the
underprivileged they are supposed to help... There is the cleansing
of developed-world middle-class guilt. There might even be the
opportunity to use the experience on a college application or job
resume (Kwa 2007).
Volunteer tourism (a form of tourism where the tourists volunteer in
local communities as part of his or her travel) is becoming increasingly
available and popular amongst everyday tourists in different parts
of the world. Despite its seeming virtue and it often being positioned

Harng Luh Sin is currently a PhD candidate in Royal Holloway, University of London
(Egham, Surrey TW20 0EX, UK. Email:<>). Her research interests are on
travel and tourism geographies, particularly on pro-poor, responsible, and volunteer tourism.
She has conducted fieldwork in Northern Vietnam, Cambodia and South Africa for her
previous dissertations and research for this paper was conducted during her Masters degree
in the National University of Singapore.

H.L. Sin / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 480–501 481

as a form of ‘‘justice’’ or ‘‘goodwill’’ tourism (see Butcher 2003;

Scheyvens 2007; Stoddart and Rogerson 2004), critics in the public
media (usually in the form of newpaper commentaries as cited above)
have increasingly begun to question the effectiveness or ‘‘real’’ value of
volunteer tourism (Bennett 2008; Bowes 2008; Judith Brodie, cited in
Griffiths 2007; Kwa 2007; Mahti 2007; Sudderuddin 2007). Between
those who applaud volunteer tourisms’ presupposed benefits and those
who prefer to take a more cynical view towards the phenomena, there
is arguably a lack of a middle-ground with substantial research that pre-
sents a balanced view of volunteer tourism for what it really is. Most
interestingly, there appears to be a dearth of academic pieces that have
taken a critical view of volunteer tourism. For the increasing numbers
of lay people interested in volunteer tourism and the agencies provid-
ing ‘‘voluntourism vacations’’, there is a critical need for research to
provide a firm foundation for a deeper understanding of volunteer
tourism—in both its positive and negative aspects. This paper acknowl-
edges this need, and focuses in particular on individual volunteer tour-
ists’ experiences, using fieldwork with a group of volunteer tourists
from the student-formed team ‘‘Action Africa’’ from the National
University of Singapore.
This paper begins with an exploration of respondents’ motivations
for participating in volunteer tourism, followed by a discussion on
how particular motivations, perspectives and objectives of volunteer
tourism is ‘‘performed’’ on the ground. This research has found that
at least within the group of 11 volunteer tourists interviewed, motiva-
tions often revolved around the desire to travel or to visit a different
or ‘‘exotic’’ destination. Also, while volunteer tourists interviewed
did allude to some changes in opinions after their experiences, it
was inconclusive as to whether this has led to substantial changes in
their value-system, social consciousness, or willingness to volunteer in
other arenas after their volunteer tourism experience. This is contrary
to earlier findings by other authors that has mostly suggested that vol-
unteer tourism has very direct and tangible positive outcomes amongst
volunteer tourists (Broad 2003; Brown and Morrison 2003; Campbell
and Smith 2006; Halpenny and Caissie 2003; McGehee and Santos
2004; McIntosh and Zahra 2007; Scheyvens 2002, 2007; Stoddart and
Rogerson 2004; Uriely, Reichel and Ron 2003; Wearing 2001, 2003;
Zahra and McIntosh 2007). The aim of this paper is thus to uncover
the underlying tensions surrounding these motivations and perfor-
mances and discuss what indeed the aims of volunteer tourism projects
are, who determines these aims, and how differing notions are contin-
ually performed and negotiated throughout the entire volunteer tour-
ism experience.


Central to volunteer tourism is the idea that tourism ventures can
and should bring about positive impacts to locals in host-destinations.
Mass tourism is often criticized for its failure to deliver promised ben-
482 H.L. Sin / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 480–501

efits of developing tourism in developing countries, while reinforcing

dependencies. In response to criticisms of mass tourism, many have
sought to develop new ways of conducting tourism to reform the indus-
try of its ills. Some avenues include that of alternative tourism (Weaver
1991, 1995), and sustainable tourism (Butler 1990, 1991; Cohen 1987;
Pearce 1987).
It is within such paradigms that volunteer tourism is situated—where
attempts are made to develop a form of travel that is more benign or
beneficial to the local community and the ecological environment.
In one of the most comprehensive volumes dedicated specifically to
the study of volunteer tourism, Wearing (2001) situates volunteer tour-
ism within the field of alternative tourism and ecotourism (see also
Wearing and Neil 1997; Wearing and Neil 2001; Weiler and Richins
1995) and suggests that volunteer tourism has the potential to induce
change, specifically ‘‘value change and changed consciousness’’
(Wearing 2003:x). Wearing suggests that volunteer tourism has positive
influences on its participants, and this line of thought is echoed in
many other academic works—volunteer tourism is frequently seen as
an alternative to the ills observed in other forms of tourism (Gray
and Campbell 2007) or is at least assumed to bring about positive
changes in either the volunteer tourists (Broad 2003; Brown and Mor-
rison 2003; Campbell and Smith 2006; Cousins 2007; Halpenny and
Caissie 2003; McGehee and Santos 2004; McIntosh and Zahra 2007;
Scheyvens 2002; Stoddart and Rogerson 2004; Uriely et al 2003; Wear-
ing 2001; Wearing 2003; Zahra and McIntosh 2007) or in host commu-
nities (Scheyvens 2002; Uriely et al 2003).
In the context of this study however, many participants may not nec-
essary see themselves as ‘‘volunteer tourists’’ per se, but describe the
activity instead as ‘‘international service-learning’’. Service learning is
defined as
[a] method under which students learn and develop through active
participation in thoughtfully organized service experiences that meet
actual community needs, and which are coordinated with a formal
educational institution to address and support an academic curricu-
lum (University of Colorado 2005).
Unlike volunteerism that seeks to provide unpaid work on behalf of
others, the main focus of service-learning is on learning and personal
development. Service-learning is part of a broader set of educational
tools termed experiential learning, ‘‘defined as a process where the
learner needs to reflect upon the experience [in this case, the experi-
ence of volunteering overseas] and derives new learning’’ (Osland et al
1971:67). The primary goal of service-learning is to cultivate responsi-
ble citizenship and encourage students’ active involvement in solving
social issues (Canada and Speck 2001). Service learning is thus an at-
tempt that ‘‘speaks to our sense of duty and fairness in the world: those
who can supporting those who cannot, giving opportunities to those
left behind’’ (Butin 2005:vii).
Using existing works on both volunteer tourism and service-learning
as a basis for understanding volunteer tourism experiences, this paper
H.L. Sin / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 480–501 483

goes further in examining the motivations and performances in volun-

teer tourism, and argues that individual experiences of volunteer tour-
ism vary from person to person, and what each volunteer tourist takes
out of his or her experience often results from a complex interplay be-
tween his or her original motivations, the specific context of volunteer
work (for example, the type of volunteer project and the approachabil-
ity of the local community), and the composition of the volunteer team
amongst other factors. Indeed, the negotiation of ‘‘heterogeneous’’
spaces ‘‘with blurred boundaries (where activities and people mingle,
allowing a wide range of encounters and greater expressiveness)’’
(Edensor 2000:327) is often more than evident in volunteer tourism.
In many instances, volunteer tourism destinations are the homes of lo-
cals, including those where volunteer tourists simply live with locals in
homestay programmes. In these heterogeneous spaces, tourism be-
comes less of a standard routine where tourists are able to gaze from
a distance. Instead, tourists need to continually perform their identities
around interruptions and distractions—activities of locals that were of-
ten artificially excluded in conventional ‘‘tourism bubbles’’. Volunteer
tourism centers around such ‘‘interruptions’’ and ‘‘distractions’’,
where volunteers’ activities revolve on doing volunteer services for
and with local people. Volunteer tourism thus functions within such
heterogeneous spaces, and perhaps it is indeed spaces that are hetero-
geneous that attract volunteer tourists in the first place.
This attraction to heterogeneous spaces can be understood by the
modern tourists’ search for a ‘‘sensuous experience’’, where tourism
is ‘‘based more on ‘being, doing, touching and seeing’ rather than just
‘seeing’’’ (Cloke and Perkins 1998:189; Crouch and Desforges 2003:7).
Crouch argues that instead of the distanced ‘‘post tourist’’, the modern
tourist is able to embody encounters, and ‘‘tourism becomes validated
in human practice in relation to knowledge. Knowledge is constructed
through encounters, and space is important in informing this knowl-
edge’’ (Crouch 2002:205). The concept of knowledge, according to
Crouch, is no longer ‘‘a product or end point, but informed, inform-
ing, and continuing to inform, unstable, fragmented and valued’’
(2002:217). Through tourism, tourists are in a constant engagement
with various encounters in spaces, which in turn disturb and reformu-
late knowledges. Indeed, Edensor argues that in this continual negoti-
ation of spaces and knowledges, individuals also both consciously and
subconsciously ‘‘perform’’ their own identities and positionalities
through the ‘‘strategic ‘stage-management’ of impressions character-
ize[d by] the ways in which people attempt to convey particular mean-
ings and values in social settings’’(2000:323).
The performance of selves in volunteer tourism should not however
been assumed to be one of positive nature. As with existing criticisms in
service-learning that look into the participant’s resistance towards the
learning process, including their unwillingness to engage in service-
learning course material and attributing sufferings to the service-recip-
ients’ own fault (see Butin 2003; Clark and Young 2005; Jones 2002;
Jones, Gilbride-Browm and Gariorski 2005; Kegan 1994; O’Grady
2000), volunteer tourism experiences may or may not lead to positive
484 H.L. Sin / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 480–501

changes in its participants. Indeed, Butin warns that some examples of

service-learning (and volunteer tourism in this case) could possibly
degenerate into a ‘‘voyeuristic exploitation of the ‘cultural other’ that
masquerades as academically sanctioned ‘servant leadership’’’ (Butin
Volunteer Tourism from Singapore
In Singapore, many youths are actively involved in overseas volunteer
or community service expeditions, where participants typically work in
a team under the auspices of their school or student organizations. The
rise of overseas volunteering expeditions from Singapore was pro-
pelled by two developments, the first being a compulsory community
involvement programme implemented by the Ministry of Education
in Singapore for all pre-tertiary schools in 1997. This has created a
greater awareness of the value of community involvement and is now
seen as part and parcel of a student’s education. The second related
development is the creation of Youth Expedition Project (YEP) in
2000, under the non-government organization (NGO), Singapore
International Foundation (SIF, from 2000–2005), and subsequently
managed by the National Youth Council (NYC) since 2005.
Under the administration of SIF between 2000 to October 2005, YEP
supported over 9,500 youth in 450 community service projects overseas
(Youth Expedition Project 2007, statistics since NYC took over are not
available publicly). Volunteer services are provided in 10 Asian countries
(Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries: Cambodia,
Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet-
nam; and China and India). A typical YEP project would then consist of
activities such as the volunteer component, structured reflection sessions,
cultural exchange sessions and issue-based learning sessions. How the YEP
team is conducted, the choice of location, local partner organization, type
of volunteer component and other planned sessions, as well as the recruit-
ment of participants, are largely organized by the YEP team leaders (who
are usually student leaders), although YEP does provide some guidelines
on what is acceptable or not, and disburse funding accordingly. Invest-
ments in YEP then, are built on the aims and expectations that YEP can
give Singapore youth an international experience in the area of the
issues they are passionate about. It gives them an opportunity to learn
to work together as a team and engage people from a different cul-
ture. It helps them to develop a strong conviction about their roles
and obligations towards their communities and society at large. The
long-term impacts of these YEP teams are tremendous as the goodwill
and positive Singapore presence in these countries will contribute to
the fostering of friendships and meaningful exchanges especially at
the people to people level (Youth Expedition Project 2007).

Action Africa—National University of Singapore, University Scholars

Volunteer tourists interviewed for this paper however, were indepen-
dent of YEP and were instead from a student-initiated team from the
H.L. Sin / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 480–501 485

National University of Singapore (NUS) that had named their group,

‘‘Action Africa’’. Action Africa was organized under the auspices of
the University Scholars Programme (USP)—an interdisciplinary aca-
demic programme for NUS undergraduates that was modeled after
the Harvard University’s Core Curriculum Programme. Action Africa
was initiated under USP’s ‘‘Global Programme’’ and was a community
service and cultural exploration trip to South Africa that saw a group of
12 participants (including the researcher) spending 26 days in South
Africa in December 2004. The aims of the community service project
were to ‘‘facilitate the profitable growth of black tourism and to assist
home entrepreneurs in creating sustainable ventures’’ in Melkhoutfon-
tein, South Africa (Action Africa Expedition 2007).
Participants of Action Africa were all NUS students and were re-
cruited by the team leader who initiated the project. Recruitment no-
tices were emailed to all the undergraduate students in NUS.
Interested parties then emailed the leader of the team and suitable
candidates were invited to a one-to-one interview with the leader.
About 25 people turned up for interviews, of which the leader selected
a team of 15 participants. Three selected participants dropped out for
various personal reasons before the trip itself and 12 final participants
(including the researcher) went ahead with the trip to South Africa.
The trip was split up into two major sections, the first being a 12-day
volunteer component, where participants refurbished three homes
into homestays and cafes catering to local tourists in the township of
Melkhoutfontein located in the Western Cape of South Africa. The sec-
ond section of the trip (14 days) was the cultural exploration compo-
nent, and the team visited various destinations in South Africa,
including the Cape Town, Stellenbosch, Oudtshoorn, Knysna, Port
Elizabeth, Pretoria and Johannesburg. At each town or city, partici-
pants were met with local (and often independent) travel guides who
then explained much of the local social and political contexts in each
Action Africa was organized like YEP trips and had requested fund-
ing from YEP. However, YEP rejected its funding proposal as Action
Africa was deemed to be outside the geographical scope defined by
YEP (ASEAN countries, China and India). Action Africa was instead
funded by the USP, Lee Foundation (a charitable foundation in Singa-
pore created to fund programs that promote education and other phil-
anthropic work), and a number of private donors. Each participant
received a funding subsidy of $828 to $1,175 that was used to offset
the total trip costs (excluding personal expenses) of US$2,649. The dif-
ferent tiers of funding subsidies existed as USP students received addi-
tional funding from the USP programme.

Study Methods
As elaborated on earlier, I had joined the team, Action Africa, as a
full member, and was involved throughout the 26 day expedition to
South Africa no differently from the other members of the team. I
486 H.L. Sin / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 480–501

participated in team activities from its initial preparations through to

the post-expedition presentations and photo-exhibition. I also worked
together with the team in their volunteer services. This manner of re-
search as a full participant was undertaken as I felt that observations
and interviews during the expedition reflect a more accurate account
of volunteers’ experiences, where feelings of discomfort and resistance,
or satisfaction and attachment were often most immediate and
The bulk of fieldwork for this paper then, were mostly one-to-one
interviews in informal settings, most of which were deliberately semi-
structured to give respondents the freedom to elaborate on their expe-
riences. In total, the researcher conducted 33 one-to-one interviews
with the 11 volunteer tourists. Each volunteer tourist was interviewed
on three occasions—the first interview was conducted prior to the trip
to South Africa; the second interview was conducted within the first
week of the trip; and the last interview was conducted in the last week
of the trip. Questions asked included: why they joined the expedition;
what were their expectations of the trip; whether their expectations
were met; what were some of the things they felt they achieved or failed
to achieve; and if the trip made any difference to them in general.
Informal discussions between members of the South Africa team
throughout the volunteer tourism expedition were also noted and re-
corded in the form of a research diary. The researchers also observed
the nightly discussion sessions throughout the entire trip. These were
initially led by the leader of the team (pseudonym, Jacky) and the re-
searcher (on alternate days in the first eight days of the trip). These ses-
sions usually began with a debrief of the day’s activities, followed by the
team’s thoughts on what they had encountered in the day. The themes
discussed in the first eight days included: 1. first impressions of South
Africa in general; 2. sharing of ‘‘life stories’’ between participants
(each participant drew pictures to share the key moments of their lives
with other participants); 3. their impressions of Melkhoutfontein (the
volunteer site); and 4. what volunteering in South Africa meant to
them. Subsequently, the participants took over the discussion ses-
sions—each member was to lead the discussion every night on a topic
he or she felt was important and worthy of bringing up to the whole
team. Topics were not vetted by Jacky or the researcher in advance
of the sessions, although members could informally discuss their cho-
sen topic in advance with Jacky if he or she wanted to. Themes that
were brought up by the participants then included:

1. Social issues they observed in South Africa, for example, the high rate
of unemployment, drugs, violence, AIDS, apartheid, racial issues, and
South African youths and their aspirations.
2. How does their volunteering in South Africa help? For example, did
their volunteering actually make a difference to the people in
3. Team bonding activities. Games and various activities were conducted
to get to know other participants better.
H.L. Sin / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 480–501 487

To aid documentation, most interviews and discussion sessions were

tape-recorded with consent from the respondents. The recordings
were then transcribed under a pseudonym for further analysis. As sug-
gested Cloke, Cook, Crang, Goodwin, Painter and Philo (2004), the re-
searcher always informed the respondents at the start of the interview
or discussion session that he or she was ‘‘free to switch off the tape-
recorder and terminate the interview if the respondent is upset by
the issues raised’’ (2004:164). This was done in hope of empowering
the respondents during the research process to give them greater
authority over what they thought should be included in research or
not. The transcribed interviews were then coded in themes such as
‘‘motivations’’, ‘‘performances of the self’’, and ‘‘perceptions of aid-re-
cipient’’ to facilitate analysis.
While joining the team enabled the researcher much opportunity in
engendering trust and rapport with respondents, it also brought about
significant tensions in the interactions with my respondents. As a full
member of the team, I spent almost all my time with my team mates
(that were also my ‘‘research respondents’’) as I lived, worked and
played with them. There was hardly a line between what constituted re-
search and what did not. Madge elaborates this tension clearly, high-
lighting that research involves
playing out a multiplicity of changing roles during the course of
research. These roles, which are sometimes complementary, some-
times clashing, and which are contingent on our positionality, will
affect the data given/gained and our subsequent interpretations. In
other words, they will influence what we produce as knowledge. Per-
sonal relationships with people will influence the ethical decisions we
make regarding what we create as knowledge. Power, ethics and
knowledge are interconnected (cited in WGSG 1997:94–95).
However, Spreitzhofer argues the benefits of being an ‘‘insider’’ in
research, as this often translated into a ‘‘willingness to answer’’ on
the part of the respondent as a result of mutual confidence between
researcher and researched (Spreitzhofer 1998:981). It is in fact this
‘‘insiderness’’ and ‘‘integratedness’’ (Sibley 1995) that allows in-depth
explorations of the volunteer tourism encounter in this research. As
such, this paper should be read with an awareness of the researcher’s
possible biases, and is as much a (re)presentation of opinions of
respondents interviewed, as well as a piece of work detailing the re-
searcher’s biases and standpoints as a subject enmeshed and embody-
ing the complex dynamics of volunteer tourism from Singapore.


Volunteer tourists often have a multitude of motivations, and altru-
istic motivations are often not mutually exclusive with leisure seeking
or self-development motivations. Broad, for example, suggested that
‘‘motivations traditionally associated with volunteering, such as altru-
ism, will be relevant, along with those associated with recreational trav-
elers, such as a search for fun, excitement, adventure, and meeting
488 H.L. Sin / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 480–501

others’’ (2003:64). Many volunteer tourists may be simultaneously

prompted by opportunities to learn and enrich oneself, to enjoy the
feeling of being part of a team, or to express their individuality and
accomplishment through engaging in volunteer work (see Wearing
and Neil 2001). Even though volunteer tourism seems to speak of ‘‘jus-
tice’’ or ‘‘goodwill’’ tourism that prioritizes the benefits availed to vol-
unteer aid-recipients (Butcher 2003; Scheyvens 2002; Stoddart and
Rogerson 2004), potential benefits to the volunteer worker are also
important motivators. In fact, interviews for this research has revealed
that key motivators often revolve around the ‘‘self’’, most explicitly sta-
ted in section headers starting with ‘‘I want to. . .’’. Also intrinsic in this
focus on the ‘‘self’’ is the comparison with the ‘‘other’’, where the
‘‘other’’ could take on a range a characters, from the ‘‘other’’ volun-
teer tourist, the ‘‘other’’ peer or member of volunteer’s society who
do not have a volunteer tourism experience, or the ‘‘other’’ encoun-
tered in the volunteer experience—the locals in host-communities. A
study of motivations clearly illustrates desired identities of the ‘‘self’’
in comparison to the ‘‘other’’ and serves as a precursor to consider
the tensions between desired outcomes of altruism, aid, and develop-
ment in the host destination, versus personal development of the vol-
unteer tourists.

‘‘I Want to Travel’’

Similar to Broad’s (2003) research in the Gibbon Rehabilitation Pro-
ject (in Phuket, Thailand), many volunteer tourists interviewed stated
the desire ‘‘to travel’’ as one of their main motivations. Volunteer tour-
ists interviewed believed that travelling allowed them to see something
new and exotic, to do something fun and exciting, or simply to escape
mundane tasks at home. One volunteer tourist, Charlotte revealed her
reasons for going to South Africa,
Frankly speaking, [my] secondary [reason] is voluntary work. But
coming first is more of like to travel abroad and get away from Singapore.
What attracted me was the South Africa place which is further away
from Asia. You know, I don’t want to go to like Cambodia, India. I
mean I would go one day but if I have the opportunity to go further away
from that I would grab the opportunity (interview in 2004, author’s
It is noteworthy that Charlotte’s main motivation is to ‘‘get away from
Singapore’’, and to visit a place ‘‘which is further away from Asia’’. Sim-
ilarly, another volunteer tourist, Stephen, said: ‘‘I think initially I
wanted to learn more about Africa and all along I wanted to come to
this country’’ (interview in 2004). Participants’ geographical imagina-
tions of South Africa was that of a far-away and exotic destination,
somewhere ‘‘different’’, and not frequently visited by other Singapore-
ans. This makes the choice to participate in volunteer tourism not too
different from conventional choices that tourists make in deciding
holiday destinations to visit.
H.L. Sin / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 480–501 489

To the leader of the team however, the motive ‘‘to travel’’ was re-
lated to his desire to immerse in foreign cultures and to experience
something very novel. He relates,
I initiated the project because I wanted to experience how Africa was
truly like instead of all the simple stereotypes. And after taking the
class on Africa and hearing the experiences of the Professor, I feel
that the only way to truly understand what Africa truly was, was to
see it myself (interview in 2004).
The volunteering activity during the trip was thus seen as a means to
better understand local contexts or to develop personal relationships
with hosts, making the experience a more ‘‘authentic’’ encounter with
what ‘‘Africa truly was’’.
‘‘To travel’’ therefore encapsulates differing motivations and de-
sires even between a small group of 11 volunteer tourists. Common
amongst these desires however, is the notion that travel is a means
in which youths ‘‘stretch out beyond the local to draw in places
from around the globe’’ (Desforges 1998:176). Participants’ motiva-
tions showed that some had viewed volunteer tourism as an oppor-
tunity to perform the desired identities of one who is well-traveled
beyond conventional destinations, and who knows and understands
the world. Indeed, Munt argued that ‘‘traveling has emerged as an
important informal qualification with the passport acting, so to
speak, as professional certification; a record of achievement and
experience’’ (Munt 1994:112). The clear domination of wanting
‘‘to travel’’ among participants thus shows the desire to gain cultural
capital through the collection of knowledge and experience in vol-
unteer tourism, and to perform desired identities that will in turn
secure ‘‘entry to the privileges of work, housing and lifestyle’’
(Desforges 1998:177).

‘‘I Want to Contribute’’

In contrast, out of the 11 interviewees, only two responded with a
strong statement that their main motivation is to volunteer and con-
tribute to the local community. While volunteering was mentioned
by all interviewees, it was often mentioned in tandem with the advanta-
ges that came along with volunteering (especially in terms of learning).
For example, Anne mentioned that
I think it offers me a different avenue to know the country. Better
than to go out on package tours. Whereas for an expedition like this,
apart from seeing the country and getting to experience it as a tourist
sightseeing, there’s an added dimension of doing community service
(interview in 2004).
Fellow volunteer, Stephen, similarly reflected that ‘‘community service
was never a primary objective of this trip. . . My primary objective was to
come here to learn, and to learn through community work’’ (interview
in 2004). This attitude of volunteering and getting to know a place bet-
ter is also reflected in what volunteer Jacky has to say,
490 H.L. Sin / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 480–501

Personally I feel that I’m a bit of both. When I’m doing my community
service, I see myself as a volunteer but after the community service
phase, I would see myself more as a tourist than a volunteer although
I wouldn’t hesitate to tell people that the reason why I am in South Africa is to
volunteer. Because I feel that it is very important when you volunteer to
also understand other aspects of the country and to get a more holistic view of
the country then just simply seeing a part of the country that is in des-
perate need of help, and overlooking all else in the country (interview
in 2004, author’s emphasis).
Volunteering is thus largely seen as an activity that was beneficial to
both host-communities and to the volunteers themselves. At least for
this group of respondents, their motivations to participate in volunteer
tourism are not outwardly centred on contributing to the host-

‘‘I Want to See If I Can Do This’’

Volunteer tourists interviewed also tended to see volunteering as a
challenge. This is in line with the belief that ‘‘people express who/what
they are, to themselves and to others, by engaging in action-leisure
activities’’ (Kernan and Domzal 2001). Going to Africa had conjured
images of danger and inaccessibility to some respondents (though this
itself is another stereotype of what ‘‘Africa’’ was about), and this
impression coupled with the demands of physical labor in volunteer
work repels some people from the expedition, while enticing others.
Thus, it is not surprising to find that the volunteer tourists interviewed
tended to see themselves as highly adventurous and motivated by the
desire to prove themselves. One volunteer, Betsy, for example said:
‘‘Not many people come to Africa, and I have never volunteered be-
fore. So it’s just something I thought I should try, you know [to] see
if I could do it too’’ (discussion with team in 2004).
Such motivations are very similar to previous research on long-haul
travelers or backpackers who see their trip as a challenge or a ritual
to signify their coming of age (see Desforges 1998; Desforges 2000).
Respondents like Betsy displayed a desire to use the volunteering expe-
rience to ‘‘realize a different, undeveloped side of [her] personality or
to take on a ‘‘new’’ role in a context where no one will make [her] con-
form to expectations about [herself]’’ (Edensor 2000:325).

‘‘It’s More Convenient This Way’’

Finally, another common motivation, surprisingly, was the practical
benefits of joining a volunteer tourism trip. Four participants alluded
to how it was practical to join the team. Anne, for example said: ‘‘I
thought South Africa was a very inaccessible place. . . It’s a lot easier
to come with a school trip, then to come on my own’’ (interview in
2004). Additionally, Stephen talked about the subsidies provided by
the university and other fund-raisers, saying: ‘‘to go as a tourist, you will
spend a lot more money. So it’s the cost consideration, you come [to
South Africa] for almost a month, you only spend about $1810’’
H.L. Sin / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 480–501 491

(interview in 2004). This case however, possibly illustrates the expecta-

tions of some volunteer tourists who may be interested only due to the
fact that it can be a cheap or subsidized holiday. While it is beyond the
scope of this paper to undertake an in-depth study on this issue and to
ascertain if this situation pertains only to Singapore, it is important for
coordinators of volunteer tourism to acknowledge this situation and
balance the need for subsidies to enable volunteer tourism to remain
accessible to youths, versus the possible outcome that youths are simply
making use of volunteer tourism to go on a cheap holiday and have no
intentions to help host communities or engage in critical out-of-class-
room style learning.


As with all individuals, volunteer tourists are active narrators of their
experiences, seeking to perform their ‘‘selves’’ with elements of self-
authorship (see Kegan 1994) and self-actualization (see Giddens
1991). Giddens (1991) argues that ‘‘for contemporary generations,
identity and life-story explications have become an internal affair’’ (ci-
ted in Elsrud 2001:600), and like all other choices an individual makes,
the choice of where to travel to, how to travel, and what activities to en-
gage in while travelling are all parts of the narrative about one’s iden-
tity. Thus the ‘‘self’’ is continually performed both externally to one’s
audiences (friends, relatives, and other people one comes across) and
internally to strengthen one’s self-identity. In undertaking a volunteer
project during their overseas trip, the tourist is in fact ‘‘expressing a
story about who he or she is or wants to be’’ (Elsrud 2001:599), and
actively ‘‘constructing who one might be henceforth’’ (cited in Noy
2004:84; Ochs 1997). This section thus relays what sorts of ‘‘selves’’
respondents interviewed desire to perform outwardly in their choice
to engage in volunteer tourism in South Africa.
As alluded to earlier in the section on motivations, volunteer tourists
interviewed have appeared to desire an ‘‘authentic’’ understanding to-
wards local situations. In these instances, volunteers exhibit a sense
that they are developing (or at least performing a ‘‘self’’ that has devel-
oped) a deeper understanding of local conditions. For example, Betsy
reflects in her journal, saying that, ‘‘this brings me to something that’s
been bugging me ever since I reached SA [South Africa]. Income dis-
parity here is glaringly wide. It is grotesque’’ (shared with the author
during an interview in 2004). Betsy was greatly disturbed by the income
disparity and when interviewed again at a later stage, she shared her
revelation about studying Law:
I just went to Law school ‘cause I couldn’t get into Medicine [Fac-
ulty]. And for the past one plus year I was just drifting along. But
here, I realized how much legal constitutions can mean to a country
and its people. I guess coming from Singapore where everything’s
prim and proper I kind of took it for granted. Maybe one day I can
use my legal knowledge to help other people, like what the volunteer
did for Yellow [who had earlier received aid from a previous volunteer
492 H.L. Sin / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 480–501

who helped him expedite his legal claims for public housing] (Inter-
view in 2004).
While Betsy did not specify if it was the act of volunteering or the in-
depth immersion with working in a local township that brought about
such thoughts, it can be observed that through her volunteer tourism
experiences in South Africa, Betsy was able to connect her impressions
of places and issues with what she was doing back in Singapore. She
outwardly expressed that her experience in South Africa had a pro-
found impact on her attitude towards her studies and future career.
She also conveyed that she was only beginning to grasp the impact
of her experience. Giddens refers to such encounters of anxiety and
opportunity as ‘‘fateful moments’’ (1991), or ‘‘significant points of
transition in people’s lives where reflexivity is heightened because deci-
sions have to be made about the self and self-actualization that will
have repercussions for self-identity and lifestyle for a considerable
number of years ahead’’ (Desforges 2000:935). In this instance, Betsy
was also subtly ‘‘othering’’ her peers back home, insinuating that
through her volunteer tourism experience, she had gained awareness
and perception that cannot be achieved by an individual ‘‘coming
from Singapore’’ and not venturing beyond these ‘‘prim and proper’’
Jacky, on the other hand, took in his new understanding of places by
relating and comparing what he saw in South Africa, with Singapore.
When confronted by ‘‘others’’ who are different from himself, he be-
came more self-critical and began to evaluate his own behaviours in dif-
ferent situations. He shares:
what is more salient to me is perhaps the team dynamics and the
behaviour and the culture that we bring here ourselves, when viewed
in contrast to the locals. . . they were very friendly and as Singaporeans
we are generally very unfriendly, very reserved, and very private but
these South Africans. . . they are very interested in knowing people dif-
ferent from them. . . and it is impressive that they are so interested in
the diversity that the world has to offer, coming from such a history of
oppression. . . I think that is something that is quite lacking in Singap-
oreans who are more apathetic and we do not care much about other
cultures. . . (Discussion with team in 2004).
Here, Jacky questions Singaporeans’ attitude towards diversity and
finds the curiosity displayed by the South Africans to be highly
impressive. He questions the values and behaviours of himself and
other Singaporeans through this encounter with the ‘‘other’’, and
engages in the inward negotiation of his ‘‘self’’ in comparison to
the South African ‘‘other’’ who was seen to be appreciative and
Another volunteer tourist, Jane, shared her personal experience of
an internal self-actualization and change. She reflected that
it’s not something that tangible, it’s changed me in certain ways. It’s
quite hard to say. . . the most important thing is that the way I see life
has changed. In the past I see it as something that you just go
through, but when I come here I see that actually part of life is also
H.L. Sin / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 480–501 493

to struggle, you have to struggle, overcome difficult things to find the

meaning of life. (interview in 2004).
Other than an evident change in her self-perception, Jane also notes that
‘‘struggle’’ or the need to be challenged is a very important part of one’s
life. Certainly, volunteer tourism is seen to entails certain risks and chal-
lenges, where ‘‘feeling scared, exhausted and thoroughly tested is some-
times part of the deal... adventure might involve a certain amount of
hardship and unpleasantness’’ (Swarbrooke, Beard, Leckie and Pomfret
2003:8). Volunteer tourists, like adventure tourists and backpackers,
then possibly use these risks involved in volunteering overseas to con-
struct and perform their identities (Elsrud 2001). Through her encoun-
ter with hosts at volunteer tourism events and her own difficulties and
inconveniences experienced as a volunteer, Jane distinguishes herself
from ‘‘other’’ non-volunteers, and performs an identity of one who
understands and has faced struggles and responded well to these.
The notion that volunteer tourism can be used to perform the ‘‘self’’
however, is also closely related to criticisms leveled at volunteer tourists
as they are thought to be seeking opportunities for the sake of resume-
building or to appear ‘‘cool’’ or ‘‘adventurous’’ to friends (see Desfor-
ges 1998; Desforges 2000). While all the volunteer tourists interviewed
agreed that experiences gained would be something they can be proud
of and demonstrative of their resilience, tenacity and character, they
stopped short of claiming that these are the sole motivations of their
volunteer experience. Although many volunteer tourists, including
Anne, Joseph and Stephen talked about meeting ‘‘real people’’
through their experience, they also expressed uneasiness in essentialis-
ing the locals as ‘‘real, authentic tribal Africans’’. This is particularly
salient perhaps because most of the volunteer tourists on this trip
had taken an academic course on ‘‘Africa: Communities, Cultures
and Civilizations’’. In this course, the students were cautioned against
stereotyping Africans as ‘‘tribal’’ people or ‘‘primitive savages’’. It
might suffice to say that the volunteer tourists thus displayed and per-
formed a ‘‘self’’ that is sensitive towards the locals, different from
‘‘other’’ mass tourists who are often deemed to be insensitive. How-
ever, as tourists, they also displayed an incessant desire to photograph
and capture almost everything (ranging from children, to scenery and
pictures of the township, to wildlife and flora) they come across. In
fact, the group of 11 volunteer tourists collectively took about 14,000
photos in the course of the 26 days. Volunteer tourists do not necessar-
ily shed all characteristics of mass tourists, and are constantly at the
crossroads of negotiating and performing their identities as a volunteer
and as a tourist.


Learning (or resistance towards it)
The performances of the ‘‘self’’ as a savvy traveler with a verbalized
sense of social awareness and openness towards volunteering however,
494 H.L. Sin / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 480–501

should be contrasted against the seeming lack of action amongst

respondents after the volunteer tourism trip. While there was a sense
amongst respondents that the volunteering activity featured greatly
in their experience, and that they felt a greater consciousness towards
particular societal issues, respondents were not necessarily able or will-
ing to commit to further volunteering activities in other contexts (sim-
ilar to what was observed in Sudderuddin 2007). This is in contrast to
earlier studies that have suggested that ‘‘volunteers are more likely to
have denser social networks and to be politically engaged’’, and that
‘‘volunteers appear to be consistently more active members of society’’
(Hodgekinson 2003:36, 51). The tension here then, is whether the
objectives of volunteer tourism nurturing ‘‘world-ready-youths’’ with
a ‘‘strong conviction about their roles and obligations towards their
communities and society at large’’ (Youth Expedition Project 2007)
can be or is actually being fulfilled. Instead of grooming a generation
of youths who are passionate about volunteer work, research for this
paper seems to suggest that respondents interviewed are instead pas-
sionate about travelling and going overseas.
Indeed, in the two years immediately after the trip, the researcher
had kept in contact with the interviewees and asked if they had volun-
teered or travelled overseas in this period. Of the 11 volunteer tourists,
only four had volunteered substantially, of which three had conducted
their volunteering overseas in trips similar to this one to South Africa.
Of these four respondents, one was already a regular volunteer in Sin-
gapore prior to joining Action Africa, and the other three were com-
mitted to their respective volunteer tourism trips even before the trip
to South Africa. This appears to suggest that participating in Action
Africa had not significantly altered respondents’ post-trip volunteering
activities. Instead, those who were inclined to volunteer would have
done so anyway, and this also explains why they had signed up for Ac-
tion Africa in the first place. Conversely, all participants had gone over-
seas for travel of significant duration. It should also be noted however,
that most participants went overseas for study, language immersions or
work and travel purposes. The preferred mode of travel also veered
strongly towards backpacking. This emphasizes the original motiva-
tions of this group of 11 participants, where volunteering was mainly
a means among many others towards understanding local people’s live-
lihoods and culture. Again, the desire to perform the self-identity of
well-travelled individual who understands the world is reiterated, and
it appears that within this group of respondents the objective of ‘‘trav-
elling’’ and in turn ‘‘getting to know the world’’ supersedes objectives
of volunteering or addressing social injustices through volunteer
Indeed, the researcher is of the opinion that there is no harm in
placing volunteer tourism’s objectives as ‘‘travelling’’ in a meaningful
manner where participants are put in suitable positions to encounter
‘‘other’’ cultures and contexts—as long as these encounters are taken
positively and reflected upon critically by volunteer tourists. The appar-
ent paradox though, is the possibility that despite the desire to perform
‘‘selves’’ that are sensitive and matured world-travelers, volunteer
H.L. Sin / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 480–501 495

tourists could instead end up reinforcing negative stereotypes or mis-

understand what their own positions of privilege entails (see next sec-
tion on democracy or the lack of it).
For example, in the course of volunteer tourism, participants’ exist-
ing assumptions, stereotypes and privileges may be confronted. While
these confrontations acts as an impetus for some to re-evaluate their
positions and begin a journey towards change, many others might re-
ject opinions that conflict with their original beliefs. Resistance thus oc-
curs when the volunteer tourism experience exposes participants to
what they are not prepared to process. For example, Stephen shares
that at times he feels that the locals are not helping themselves. In-
stilled with values of hard work and conscientiousness, Stephen opines
that the South African Blacks are indeed lazy and are poor because
they choose to drink and smoke marijuana all day. However, Stephen
also says that
But I think maybe it is because I am brought up to believe that as long
as I work hard I can succeed. And that is because I am lucky ‘cause we
have many opportunities. My first reaction is to blame the locals for
not working hard for themselves. But maybe there is a bigger problem
of society having no opportunities (interview in 2004).
From Stephen’s example, we see that some resistance would naturally
occur initially. Volunteer tourism should therefore recognize this resis-
tance and address these issues faced by participants.

Democracy (or the lack of it)

Another inherent tension observed is that respondents (whether
consciously or not) tended to adopt a ‘‘giving attitude’’. For example,
fund-raising events for volunteer tourism are often termed as ‘‘charity
bazaars’’ or involve ‘‘charity movie-screenings’’. Steinback (1951) criti-
cizes this mentality, declaring that ‘‘[t]he most overrated virtue. . . is
that of giving. Giving builds up the ego of the giver, makes him supe-
rior and higher and larger than the receiver. Nearly always, giving is a
selfish pleasure, and in many cases it is a downright destructive and evil
thing’’ (cited in Smillie 1995:29). One volunteer tourist, Jane, dis-
played this desire to give, saying that, ‘‘I thought it’ll be tougher, more
work. I guess we want to give them as much as we can, since we have so
much more’’ (interview in 2004, author’s emphasis). Although Jane
meant no malice in her statement, and the researcher noted her sin-
cerity in wanting to contribute, her comments bring out the problems
when volunteer tourism fails to advance democracy and active citizen-
ship. Jane’s desire to give is also accentuated by her awareness of her
‘‘having so much more’’, and this again problematically juxtaposes
her position as being superior when compared to the South Africans
in the project. Also, her act of giving relieves her of guilt of being in
a superior position, but does not in any way change the system of priv-
ileges available to her and not available to the aid-recipients.
The paradox herein is that volunteer tourism will almost always in-
volve the ‘‘richer’’ and ‘‘better off’’ providing aid to the ‘‘poor’’ and
496 H.L. Sin / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 480–501

‘‘worse off’’. Volunteers from Singapore can be easily seen as richer

and superior, forming a problematic dichotomy between the
volunteers and aid-recipients, where volunteers are in a better posi-
tion of power to judge and comment on the aid-recipients. ‘‘Other-
ing’’ in this sense could potentially create rifts that hinder the
building of strong personal relationships between volunteer and reci-
pient; it can even cause a situation where the volunteer is seen as
Agreeing with this opinion, Voluntary Services Overseas director,
Judith Brodie, has criticized that ‘‘many ‘volunteer tourism’ trips
to developing countries are expensive, poorly planned and unlikely
to help local people’’ (cited in Griffiths 2007). It is unfortunate in
Singapore’s example that despite the widespread use of ‘‘service-
learning’’ in volunteer tourism ventures, the underlying concepts
of advancing democracy through encouraging open expression of
opinions by all levels of society has not been observed. Indeed, vol-
unteer tourism, like community service in Singapore, has tended to
be apolitical—largely philanthropic and altruistic, rather than associ-
ated with political dimensions of citizenship and advocacy. Volun-
teer tourists were also hardly encouraged to question why
communities in host-countries needed volunteer services. Instead,
there is a risk that volunteer tourists can be led to assume that
aid-recipients were naturally poor, and failed to understand prevail-
ing circumstances that impede aid-recipients’ efforts to break out of
the poverty-cycle (personal observation in 2004). Indeed, ‘‘[w]hen
viewed as simply helping those ‘less fortunate’, students may fail
to see the role that their own privilege plays in the dynamics of
power’’ (Clark and Young 2005:72). For example, despite motiva-
tions and the desire to perform a ‘‘self’’ that is sensitive to local
conditions, respondents interviewed may not have an adequately
in-depth understanding of the political and social histories of South
Africa and this can undermine their ability to appreciate larger is-
sues hampering economic development in South Africa (personal
observation in 2004).
Critics have long expressed disapproval towards apolitical commu-
nity service, declaring that it is purely an institutional means that the
state uses to continually reproduce a capitalist status quo while appear-
ing to address issues of inequality in society and allowing citizens to
appear concerned and responsible (Gorham 1992). In this case, partic-
ipation and support in volunteer tourism might be implicitly accepting
structural inequalities and reproducing imparity in current systems
without questioning them (Guarasci and Rimmerman 1996; Rimmer-
man 1997). While volunteer tourism, especially in Singapore, may ap-
pear favourable in enabling the continued stability of the current
political climate, it may not fulfill its purpose of achieving greater soci-
etal well-being. Instead, volunteer tourism, whether in Singapore or
elsewhere, needs to continually evaluate its position and consider
bringing in substantial discussions on democracy and active citizenship
to achieve its true potential.
H.L. Sin / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 480–501 497

Through an in-depth study of 11 volunteer tourists from Singapore,
this article has highlighted various observations about volunteer tour-
ists’ motivations, performances, as well as the tensions and paradoxes
in volunteer tourism. Interestingly, this study has found that at least
among those interviewed, motivating factors for volunteer tourists were
‘‘to travel’’ rather than ‘‘to contribute’’ or volunteer. Volunteering in
the local community was also but one of the many means of travelling
to different destinations to ‘‘learn about local cultures’’ or to ‘‘go be-
yond superficial tour packages where you don’t see how people really
live’’ (interviews with Betsy, Jacky, and Stephen in 2004). In the section
on performances in volunteer tourism, it was also revealed that volun-
teer tourism was often used as an experience (often reflected in re-
sumes and casual conversations with friends and acquaintances)
which volunteer tourists used to perform a ‘‘self’’ suggesting that he
or she was a conscious and worldly tourist or individual.
This emphasis on the ‘‘self’’ is perhaps already acknowledged in an
understated manner among many involved in organizing volunteer
tourism. However, instead of leaving such emphasis on the ‘‘self’’ in
the background, it is important to realize upfront that many volunteer
tourists are typically more interested in fulfilling objectives relating to
the ‘‘self’’. This puts away the altruistic perception of volunteer tourism
and allows one to critically assess the nature of volunteer tourism much
like any other form of tourism—whether considered as mass or alterna-
tive tourism. Indeed, the section on tensions and paradoxes in volun-
teer tourism highlights the tensions between the differing objectives
between funding bodies, versus those of the volunteer tourists them-
selves. In summary, this paper elucidated that volunteer tourism could
indeed be reinforcing negative stereotypes of aid-recipients as inferior
or less-able through the process of ‘‘othering’’ by volunteer tourists.
Also, if volunteer tourism continues to be organized in an apolitical
manner that neglects critical engagement with issues of democracy
and active citizenship, it could easily fail to achieve its purported inten-
tions of being ‘‘pro-poor’’ or addressing social inequalities.
Continual and critical reviews of volunteer tourism are thus needed
as it emerges with growing popularity. Indeed, tourism forms have
been and will continue to tend towards addressing social and environ-
mental ‘‘responsibilities’’ and it is vital for tourism researchers to dwell
in detail on the complex issues encountered by tourists, locals at host
communities, and businesses or private organizations providing such
responsible tourism options. It is hoped that this study has addressed
one of the many angles in volunteer tourism and have provided inter-
esting insights on the individuals’ experience in volunteer tourism.
This paper, however, is but a starting point for further research and dis-
cussion. Most importantly, more research focusing on the perspectives
of the aid-recipients of volunteer tourism is needed. Further research
could, for example explore the power relations arising from volunteer
tourism within host-communities, especially in terms of the relations
between funding organizations and local partners in host-communi-
498 H.L. Sin / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 480–501

ties, and how different stakeholders negotiate their power or lack of it

in attaining their own agendas.

Acknowledgements—The author would like to thank A/P Chang Tou Chuang for his supervi-
sion and support of this research project. This study was funded by the National University
of Singapore.

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Submitted 11 April 2008. Resubmitted 15 November 2008. Final version 22 January 2009.
Accepted 4 March 2009. Refereed anonymously. Coordinating Editor: John Tribe

Available online at

Annals of Tourism Research, Vol. 36, No. 3, pp. 502–521, 2009
0160-7383/$ - see front matter Ó 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Printed in Great Britain


An Ethnographic Study of the International
Student Experience
Lorraine Brown
Bournemouth University, United Kingdom

Abstract: The findings from an ethnographic study of international postgraduate students’

adjustment journey through life in England illustrates the transformative potential of the
international student sojourn. It is shown that removal from the familiar home environment
gave students freedom from cultural and familial expectations and the opportunity for self-
discovery, whilst exposure to a new culture offered them the chance to improve their
cross-cultural communication skills. The durability of change was questioned by students
who were apprehensive about re-entry to the origin culture and the receptivity of those left
behind to the changes they had made. By pointing to the possible similarities between the
experiences of international students and long-stay tourists, this paper calls for research into
the outcome of long-stay tourism, in order to measure the extent of change in tourists’ self-
concept and cross-cultural awareness. Keywords: sojourners personal growth, intercultural
competence, life changes, going home. Ó 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

International education is a major export industry at university level,
with fierce competition among the key markets of the United King-
dom, Canada, New Zealand and Australia (Ryan and Carroll 2005).
Since 1997, the number of international students studying in the
United Kingdom has soared, and their recruitment by British universi-
ties has steadily grown; within the UK context, international students
constitute 13% of the total student population (318,000), though the
percentage varies across institutions (UKCOSA 2006). In 2006, then-
British Prime Minister Tony Blair announced the second phase of an
initiative to promote British HE following the success of his 1999 pro-
gram, which set an original target of 75,000 additional international
students and was comfortably exceeded. The second initiative urged
British universities to build overseas partnerships that would help them

Lorraine Brown works in the School of Services Management at Bournemouth University

(School of Services Management, Dorset House, Talbot Campus, BH12 5BB, UK. Email:
<>) as Programme Leader for the Tourism Masters Framework
and as senior lecturer in academic support for international postgraduate students. Her
doctoral thesis is on the adaptation experience of international students to life in the UK.
Her research interests include cross-cultural interaction, the impact of prejudice on the
sojourn experience and the outcome of culture contact.

L. Brown / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 502–521 503

recruit 100,000 more international students by 2011 (MacLeod 2006).

The relationship between income generation and overseas recruitment
in Higher Education (HE) has been well documented; income from
international students plays an important role in the financial health
of the HE sector, representing almost one-third of the total income
in fees for universities and HE colleges in the United Kingdom (Ward
2001; Leonard, Morley and Pelletier 2002; Ryan and Carroll 2005). The
advent of full-cost fees means that most British HE institutions depend
on income from international students. In 2004, they earned £4 billion
in fees, and students spent as much again on living costs; this level rose
to £5 billion in 2006 (MacLeod 2006).
Accompanying the steady rise in the number of international stu-
dents in global HE has been a growth in research dedicated to the inter-
national sojourn, and cultural adjustment and personal change
represent two of several research interests. The move to a new environ-
ment represents an important life event (Kim 2001): when a sojourner
has completed their primary socialization process in one culture and
then comes into contact with a new and unfamiliar culture, a process
of adjustment takes place as the person adopts new behaviours
(Gudykunst 1998). In this context, adjustment refers to the process
and outcome of change experienced during the international sojourn.
According to many theorists, the best outcome for a globalised and mul-
ticultural society is the development of intercultural competence, which
is maximised in those who adopt a multicultural interaction strategy:
this implies a willingness to both embrace other cultures and retain
one’s own ethnic identity; it therefore has the capability to produce
mediating personalities, with positive implications for world peace
and understanding (Bochner 1981; Gudykunst 1998; Kim 2001).
This paper reports findings from an ethnographic study of the inter-
national student experience, and uses its focus on the transformative
power of the international sojourn to encourage tourism researchers
to carry out similar studies focused on the power of long-stay tourism
to effect change in the tourist.

The impact of tourism on the destination and on residents is well
documented; however there has been much less attention paid to
the process of change undergone by the tourist (Hottola 2004; Fletcher
2005). According to Hampton (2007), this is the neglected dimension
of tourism impact analysis. As Furnham (1984) and Hottola (2004)
point out, the sojourner adjustment literature can be used to under-
stand how tourism can act as a catalyst for change in the tourist’s out-
look and in their behaviour following their time away from the origin
culture, although both authors complain that there is little cross-over
between the two fields. The majority of sojourner adjustment research
has been conducted into an easily accessible international student
population; the theories that have been tested and developed in this
literature have been subsequently applied to other sojourner groups,
504 L. Brown / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 502–521

including businesspeople and migrants. Indeed, the relationship

between international tourism and international education means that
meaningful comparisons can be made: as Ritchie, Cooper and Carr
(2003) point out, an important segment of the educational tourism
market is the university student whose primary purpose is to gain a
qualification but whose impact on the destination is similar to other
categories of tourist and upon whom the impact of travel is likewise sig-
nificant. The parallel between the international student and the long-
stay tourist is revealed in the common definition of the international
sojourn as temporary between-society contact for a duration of 6
months to 5 years (Jandt 2001; Hottola 2004): indeed, in their treatise
of culture shock and transition, Ward, Bochner and Furnham (2001)
include tourists alongside migrants, business people, refugees and
international students in their typology of sojourners. Hottola (2004)
argues that the lack of empirical evidence of tourists’ encounter with
a new culture means that tourism academics must engage with the so-
journer adjustment literature in order to find sophisticated theoretical
discussions of the change brought by cross-cultural contact. It is hoped
that this paper will encourage academics to conduct dedicated re-
search into the impact of long-stay tourism, especially as this represents
a growing global phenomenon (O’Reilly 2006; MINTEL 2008), whose
impact on the individual and society is not to be underestimated
(D’Amore 1988; Hottola 2004; Milstein 2005; Muzaini 2006; O’Reilly
2006; Steyn and Grant 2006). As Hottola (2004) notes, tourists consti-
tute the majority of contemporary exposure to intercultural contact:
their experiences should be analysed so that an empirical evidence
base of the outcome of culture contact for tourists can be created
and new theoretical constructs can be applied specifically to the tour-
ist. It is insufficient to draw conclusions solely from sojourner research,
as among the many categories of sojourner, there is variance in the
purposes of travel and the types of infrastructure and superstructure
used during the stay.
It is well acknowledged in the literature on the international sojourn
that exposure to a new culture has transformative potential. Firstly, the
sojourn has the power to increase cross-cultural understanding (Adler
1975; Kim 1988; Ward et al 2001): many writers (from Bochner in 1981
to Gudykunst in 1998 to Cushner and Karim in 2004), state that
increased tolerance transforms the sojourner into a human bridge
between cultures upon their return home: the development of a non-
ethnocentric value system enables them to go on to become a mediator
between cultures (Bochner 1981, 1986). It is for this reason that the
international sojourn is described by Gudykunst (1998) as a major con-
tributor to a reduction in world conflict; this is a claim also made by
d’Amore (1988) for tourism, whilst O’Reilly’s study (2006) found an
association between backpacking and the development of a sense of
common humanity. Indeed, according to Bochner (1986), interna-
tional education and tourism are the most powerful positive influences
on world relations. However, it should be noted that Litvin (1998)
argues for a less idealistic treatment of the link between tourism and
peace by researchers, arguing that tourism (including educational
L. Brown / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 502–521 505

tourism) is a beneficiary rather than a generator of peace. Neverthe-

less, he concedes that travel is important to the ‘human psyche’. Given
that the signs are for growth in both tourism and international educa-
tion (Ritchie et al 2003; Ryan 2005; O’Reilly 2006), the potential con-
tribution made by travel to world relations is a subject worthy of more
research. There is so far only limited evidence that tourism improves
international understanding (e.g. Askjellerud 2003; Noy 2003; O’Reilly
2006; Hampton 2007), and the claim that this is a largely unsubstanti-
ated inference remains (Ward et al 2001; Hottola 2004).
Secondly, prolonged absence from the home world carries the po-
tential to force a revision in how sojourners view their domestic and
professional role (Biddle 1979; Vasiliki 2000; Martin and Harrell
2004): this carries implications for how sojourners will feel and behave
upon re-entry to the old culture (Bamber 2007). Adler (1975) states
that the sojourn evolves from a confrontation with a new culture into
an encounter with the self. Similarly, Tucker (2005), Hottola (2004)
and O’Reilly (2006) state that tourism offers an opportunity not only
for pleasure but also for self-exploration, as freedom from domestic
constraints allows tourists to develop a stronger sense of self. In com-
mon with the sojourner adjustment literature, O’Reilly (2006) refers
to the transformative potential of travel. It is commonly claimed that
sojourners undergo a journey of self-discovery as removal from the
comfort of the familiar forces them to test and stretch their resource-
fulness and to revise their self-understanding (Kim 1988; Berry 1994;
Milstein 2005). The currency of the focus on the link between displace-
ment and personal change is reflected in the attention recently paid to
the subject by psychoanalysts/philosophers (see Madison 2006; Hayes
2007) who use the term ‘voluntary’ or ‘existential migration’ to refer
to extended trips abroad and who use psychoanalytic theory to under-
stand the process of change undergone by sojourners. So great is the
change in the self that the return home can be a source of apprehen-
sion, as sojourners may face similar difficulty in adjusting to the home
culture as they did upon arrival in the new culture (Kiley 2000; Ward
et al 2001; Steyn and Grant 2006). Nevertheless, the benefits of travel
for long-term career prospects are cited by researchers into sojourner
adjustment (Martin and Harrell 2004; Cushner and Karim 2004) and
tourism (O’Reilly 2006).
The degree of change wrought in the tourist is arguably a function of
the purpose and duration of the trip undertaken: a shift in personal
and cultural outlook is less likely in the mass and business tourist whose
contact with and immersion into the local culture is often limited
(Hottola 2004; Muzaini 2006). Ward et al (2001) state that short-stay
tourists are not usually committed to their new location, which Jandt
(2001) explains by focusing on motivation: most tourists visit a country
for a short period of time for such goals as relaxation and leisure; a so-
journer on the other hand typically lives in a country for a longer per-
iod of time, with a specific and goal-oriented purpose, such as
education or business, and is usually inclined to adjust to some extent
to local cultural norms (Gudykunst 1998). Motivation to broaden their
education is also commonly attributed to backpackers who usually
506 L. Brown / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 502–521

betray a desire to distance themselves from the mass tourist: the hall-
marks of the long-stay tourist are openness, flexibility and tolerance
(Muzaini 2006; O’Reilly 2006). The outcome of cultural change in
the tourist/sojourner tends to increase in line with the acceptance
shown towards new cultural norms and practices (Berry 1994;
Gudykunst 1998). Meanwhile, distance from the home culture is
sufficient to promote change in personal self-construal; the longer
the sojourn, the more embedded the new self can become (Kim
2001; Hayes 2007). It should be observed however that the extent
and type of change experienced by the sojourner are a function of
variable cultural, environmental and personal characteristics (see Berry
1994; Kim 2001).


Study Methods
The aim of the study from which this paper’s findings are taken was
to obtain the insider perspective on the adjustment process, an aim
best fulfilled by the ethnographic approach which offered the opportu-
nity to study students in the natural setting over a long period using the
twin methods of participant observation and in-depth interviews that
characterize ethnography (Fetterman 1998). The setting chosen for
this research was the Graduate School at a university in the south of
England, as the researcher works there as a lecturer in English for
Academic Purposes (EAP), and is already ‘in the field’; they had direct
access to students and ample opportunity for observation in an overt
participant role. The researcher did not mark students’ work and
had no input in assessment, and this was important when considering
ethical issues. Of the 150 postgraduate international students in the
School, the majority were from South East Asia, reflecting the most
common source of international students for UK universities
(UKCOSA 2006); around a third were from Europe, Africa and the
Middle East.
Ethical approval to undertake this study was sought from the univer-
sity’s Research Ethics Committee, and informed consent was obtained
to observe and record observations on a daily basis; all students were
assured of confidentiality and anonymity. In addition, thirteen stu-
dents from thirteen different nations volunteered to be interviewed
at regular intervals over a 12 month academic year (each pre-arranged,
tape-recorded interview normally lasted two hours). Although no indi-
vidual can represent an entire culture, culture clearly has a defining
impact on an individual’s make-up (Hofstede 1991), meaning that
there would be access to experience of the sojourn from many differ-
ent perspectives. Interviews were complemented and enriched by the
many conversations that took place outside these formally arranged
times with both interviewees and students from the larger 150-strong
student cohort. Ethnography is initially inductive (Fetterman 1998),
therefore the first interview with students was informal and unstruc-
tured, and as advised by Spradley (1979), grand tour questions were
L. Brown / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 502–521 507

used to stimulate conversation. Subsequent interviews were guided by

the topics that arose in previous interviews, indeed new ideas and
themes emerged throughout the academic year.
The decision to study an institution at a particular time is significant.
Students have particularly intense emotional experiences at the start of
term as they attempted to adapt not only to a new sociocultural
environment but also to unfamiliar academic situations. Thus both
interviews and observations started at the beginning of the year, coun-
tering the criticism often made of studies of adjustment, that they are
hampered by sojourners’ retrospective accounts (Church 1982; Ward
2001). Data collection was completed at the end of the academic year,
which meant that students’ total experience was captured.
In addition to formal interviewing, participant observation was con-
ducted throughout the year, so that the experience of the whole cohort
of 150 students was taken into account. Being a participant observer in-
volves not only watching a scene but also participating in it and record-
ing events and conversations as they occur (Hammersley and Atkinson
1995). Examples of observation sites included: induction activities, the
classroom, the corridor, the library, the coffee bar, the canteen, the of-
fice and social events organised by the School or University and by stu-
dents themselves. On a daily basis, the researcher observed students in
various university settings and conducted conversations with students
both in and outside of the classroom. This was a useful way to corrob-
orate the data generated by the interviewing aspect of the research,
and to allow the researcher to find a saturation point in the codes
and categories generated by analysis of both sources of data. Access
to students outside pre-arranged interview times also allowed the re-
searcher to probe further issues that required some clarification.
After the initial interviews had been conducted in the first weeks of
term and observation had begun, preliminary analysis, involving cod-
ing field and interview data, was carried out. Coding meant reading
through notes and repeatedly listening to tapes and reading transcripts
until themes or categories began to emerge, as certain phrases events,
activities and ideas occurred repeatedly in the text. Transcripts, field
notes and email correspondence were scrutinised, and recurring topics
were highlighted to be followed up in further interviews and observa-
tion. The author’s supervisory team offered their expertise during
the analysis phase when codes and themes were identified, helping
to make the study’s findings more objective. One of the major themes
of this study concerned the changes in the self that students reported
throughout and at the end of the data collection period. As with all
other research categories, the data produced during the interview
and observational aspects of the research were used to complement
each other and to offer corroboration of the categories generated.
With regard to the generalisability of findings, it is acknowledged
that a small interviewee sample and the selection of one case will make
it difficult to move to general classifications. Nevertheless, ethnogra-
phers often feel that similar settings are likely to produce similar data,
and that theory-based generalisation can be achieved, involving the
transfer of theoretical concepts found from one situation to other
508 L. Brown / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 502–521

settings and conditions (Daymon and Holloway 2002). The setting for
this research was chosen for the researcher’s ability to transfer the find-
ings to similar settings, that is, Higher Education institutions in the UK
that recruit international postgraduate students, and also to similar ac-
tors, that is, international postgraduates on a one-year intensive Mas-
ters programme. It is possible to infer that such students may well
face a similar experience to participants in this study, with modifica-
tions according to differing external circumstances and personality dif-
ferences. The review of the literature on adjustment reflects many of
this study’s findings, and points to a common experience among inter-
national sojourners. The present paper aims to use the experience of
international students to sensitise readers to the possible experiences
of international tourists, and it adds its voice to calls for dedicated re-
search into the tourist experience.

Learning About Other Cultures. Asked to reflect on their year away

from home, all students highlighted a growth in intercultural compe-
tence that carried implications for their future professional and inter-
personal relationships. Taylor’s (1994) transformative learning theory
illustrates the learning process of becoming interculturally competent:
when a sojourner moves to another culture to live for an extended per-
iod, they often experience a transformation out of a necessity for sur-
vival and a need to relieve stress and anxiety. This requires the
sojourner to look at their world from a different point of view, which
is often in conflict with personal values and beliefs: when they have
an experience that cannot be assimilated into their original meaning
perspective, the experience is rejected or the perspective changes to
accommodate the new experience. This was simply articulated by the
following students:
I’ve learned a lot about life, about the world, it’s amazing. I see life in a dif-
ferent way now!
Brazilian student
I think I learned to understand: there were things I didn’t know which I now
know. I think now I am more open-minded. I have changed; I like to know
what’s happening around the world, more interested. I think that will con-
tinue, like when I listen to the news, or newspaper I don’t only concentrate
on what’s happening in my country. I am more aware of things.
South African student
The mononational perspective that students had arrived with had
shifted: becoming attuned to world events denotes a multinational
frame of reference, which is according to Bochner (1986), a common
product of both tourism and international education. Empirical evi-
dence of such change in the tourist has also been reported in recent
studies of backpacking and gap-year tourism (Noy 2003; Tucker
2005; O’Reilly 2006).
Exposure to other cultures led to a growth in tolerance and accep-
tance of new practices and values: the words open, open-minded, under-
stand and tolerant were often used to describe how students felt their
L. Brown / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 502–521 509

outlook had changed. Tolerance and cultural relativism, defined as the

recognition that no single culture has the absolute criteria for judging
another (Hofstede 1991), were linked, as the following common re-
frains illustrate:
I think if I know more about that I will have a more wide mind to accept dif-
ferent things. That’s why we say in Chinese, when we travel it’s better than
Taiwanese student
Love your country, but be open to others’ culture, and try to understand them.
Chinese student

I believe that this multicultural experience will teach us that people are as
unique and right in their values, beliefs or behaviours as we ourselves are.
Indonesian student
It was understood that their cross-cultural experience could have
long-term consequences for intergroup relations. The dynamic link be-
tween individual and society was appreciated; that cultural learning
influences both sojourner and their immediate social circle was widely
acknowledged. Attitudinal change was irrevocable; it would outlast the
sojourn, and would carry implications for future business and interper-
sonal relationships, its impact extending beyond the individual con-
cerned. Indeed, cross-cultural contact had not only transformed
students into global citizens but the acquisition of culture-specific skills
had also enhanced their employability, equipping them to operate in
an increasingly globalised working environment. Indeed, this is a no-
tion that is shared by international industry experts (Westwood and
Barker 1999; Cushner and Mahon 2002), with reference not only to
international students but also to the growing gap-year market (Inkson
and Myers 2003; O’Reilly 2006).

Changing Perspectives on Life. Reflecting on the past year, students

commented extensively on changes in their personal attitudes to life.
This common theme of conversation in Interview 4 vindicates the wide-
spread emphasis in the literature on transition on the power of the
sojourn to effect changes in outlook; all interviewees confessed to
life-changing developments in philosophy and behaviour. The term
perspective transformation was used by Taylor (1994) to refer to
change in cultural outlook, but it can also be related to change in per-
sonal and professional attitudes. It must be emphasised that change in
personal rather than cultural outlook was the more preoccupying; this
is possibly because of the implications of discovery of a new self for per-
sonal and professional relationships, and for its potential impact on
everyday life. In order to understand the process of change that stu-
dents underwent, it is pertinent to think of the sojourn as a therapeutic
pause in the life they had thus far constructed. Indeed, Todres (2002)
states that psychotherapy involves reviewing and revising the self as
previously understood, whilst Giddens (1991) argues that the anxiety
provoked by transition threatens existential security and demands
the exploration and reconstruction of the self. Away from the routines
510 L. Brown / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 502–521

and rituals associated with home and security, individuals come face to
face with ‘disturbing existential questions’ and the threat of personal
meaninglessness (ibid).

Becoming Independent. Achieving autonomy was one of the many

changes discussed by students, particularly among those who had been
under parental control at home and who contrasted freedom of con-
trol in the UK with restriction in the home environment:
I have to meet my family every day, sometimes every meal, because we live in the
same house. Sometimes, I have to have lunch with them, and then I have to
come back home and have dinner again. It’s boring. Here, it’s freedom. I think
I can control more here.
Thai student
Self-control had become important; it was liberating and empower-
ing. An initial source of stress, self-reliance culminated in a growth
in self-confidence, as the Malaysian student’s typical comment reveals:
You don’t depend so much on people cos you live alone. Everything you do
yourself. I would say now I can depend on myself. You are comfortable to go
out there. I could go away again.
Early feelings of disorientation were replaced by new-found strength;
fear of being alone contrasted a new capacity to withstand stress. Self-
efficacy was therefore the product of the confrontation with hardship:
this was the necessary precursor of a universal growth in self-belief.
This echoes Kim’s (1988, 2001) conceptualisation of the adjustment
process as a dynamic interplay between degeneration and regenera-
tion: the resolution of internal stress leads to a greater pliability and
capacity to cope with other environmental stressors. A connection be-
tween travel and improved self confidence is also supported in studies
of the impact of the gap year (Inkson and Myers 2003; Hampton 2007).
Personal autonomy was not just cultivated among young, single stu-
dents; indeed, the older, married students in the cohort described a
similar shift from reliance on their husband to self-direction, and a
consequent rise in self-belief and confidence:
I think I can do things better than I did before. I don’t need company. Before, I
always want people with me. It make me stronger and more independent.

Taiwanese student
Independence, stress and strength were positively linked; the word
strong was frequently used to describe changes in the self that had re-
sulted from the resolution of stress. The sojourn was viewed as a testing
but life-changing event; it was common to hear students say they would
be better wives and mothers because of their improved capacity to bear
stress. This was articulated by the Korean and Iranian students (respec-
tively) who overcame the challenge of balancing motherhood and
academic life:
Yeah, I can do it, first my kids and study! If I get over it, I become stronger.
I am stronger than before. I am better than before.
L. Brown / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 502–521 511

This study therefore supports the claims made for the mastery of cri-
sis that is inherent in transition to increase resilience and coping capa-
bility (e.g., Kim 1988; Giddens 1991). There is a thin line between an
experience that threatens and strengthens the self, however, and on
the other hand, the Iranian student confessed that the life of a single
parent student was too hard, that it had almost broken her, proving
that the sojourn has the capacity to undermine as well as build
I don’t want to do it again. I don’t want to go through these things again. I
have had enough, it was too much to tolerate.
Painful life events might provide the foundation for personal growth,
but she didn’t feel that this justified the personal cost. According to
Giddens (1991), loss and self-actualisation are intertwined; if an indi-
vidual risks entering a transition in life, they will face stress, but they
will develop internal strength as a result. This delicate balance is re-
flected in this study as students veered between debilitation and pride
in their ability to cope, and some would swap a strengthened internal
capacity for a less stressful emotional life. The stressful nature of tran-
sition is possibly irrelevant to tourism in that gappers tend to be youn-
ger and unattached (Muzaini 2006), whilst the other growing market
for long-stay tourism is constituted by older people (Ritchie et al
2003; Hampton 2007) who may be similarly unburdened by domestic

Confronting Stress. The opportunity for testing and building charac-

ter was not provided solely by the challenges inherent in transition; this
study reveals the unpredictability of life events as unforeseen personal
crises compounded the stress imposed by immersion in a new culture.
A number of personal and medical problems beset many of the 150-
strong cohort of students (physical and psychological illness in self
or significant others, financial problems, political or economic crisis,
natural disaster at home, accidents and injury, family troubles): distress
was exacerbated by their distance from home and their inability to ac-
cess or offer support. The seemingly high incidence of trauma allows
us to wonder whether the sojourn was the trigger, or whether signifi-
cant life events are universally experienced in life but are highlighted
during the sojourn and compounded by isolation. For the Iranian stu-
dent, such an event was the crisis in her marriage which started in May
2004 and led her to comment:
Now my future is over. That is just my life, it is terrible. My life has a bad taste.
Marital problems were short-lived, but were intensely distressing.
Biddle (1979) argues that suffering a crisis can improve people’s resis-
tance to stress, but such ability did not compensate the temporary dete-
rioration in her relationship.
The most distressing event of personal significance to occur during
the sojourn was faced by the Taiwanese interviewee, whose father
became critically ill in April 2004. Entries in the field journal tracked
her concern and stress, which were manifested during every meeting
512 L. Brown / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 502–521

in tears. In May, she found out that her father was dying of cancer.
Finding herself far away from home, not being able to support her par-
ents and not knowing whether or not her father would survive until she
returned to Taiwan was agonising:
(Crying.) It hurts his body, so he’s weak now. I feel I am useless because I
can’t do anything for them. If I could just stay with him, I would feel better.

June 12

Her dad has deteriorated badly, the doctors don’t know if it’s treatable. She was
crying as she spoke, streams of tears down her face, had to fetch toilet paper for
her. Said it’s the hardest time of her life, she feels helpless, as her parent don’t
keep her informed, they don’t want her to worry. I feel helpless in front of her
June 30
Powerlessness and anxiety are common reactions to serious illness in a
loved one (Kritek 1997), but these emotions were understandably mag-
nified by geographical distance. Giving up her course was not an option,
given the financial sacrifices already made in order to study abroad, but
her absence was a heavy burden. Given that the motivation for educa-
tional tourism is to gain a qualification, it is more likely that students will
have no choice but to endure any hardship faced during their stay,
whereas tourists whose plans are less fixed may enjoy more flexibility.
Nevertheless, it is possible that a return home is unfeasible and a similar
endurance test may be faced. Indeed, Inkson and Myers (2003) point to
increased resilience as one of the benefits of long-stay tourism.

Changing Priorities. A change in philosophy on life is a common

reaction to the confrontation with mortality (Lloyd 1996), but such a
reordering of priorities was frequently reported in the final interview,
revealing the potential of the international sojourn to influence the
future. Removal from familiar routines and the imminence of re-entry
prompted an exploration of old attitudes, and professional life re-
ceived much attention as quality of life became a priority. This is shown
in an excerpt from an interview with a Chinese student:
My philosophy is the most important thing is I have to enjoy what I do. Now if I
don’t want to do it at all, no matter how high the salary is, I will not get
involved. I still want to find a decent job, to be a manager, but it doesn’t matter
what kind of job, so far as I enjoy it.
The elevation of happiness above financial reward was interpreted as
a direct result of freedom from conformity pressure during the
Going back means pressure. Here I feel more relaxed. There is no pressure at
all. I think if I could stay here I could do whatever I like.
Freedom of choice in individualist culture served to contrast the de-
mands of the ingroup in collectivist society. How sustainable the prior-
itisation of life satisfaction over career success would be in China was a
source of misgiving, and this raises a concern that was preoccupying for
L. Brown / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 502–521 513

those who proposed to change their old life: their evaluation had taken
place under conditions that prevailed in the host not the origin cul-
ture; there might be a mismatch between their expectations and the
receptivity of their home society.
The Slovenian interviewee made a similar critique of her former
work ethic; following a period of reflection afforded by the sojourn,
she made a commitment to achieve a work/life balance upon her
On your year abroad you have to ask yourself what is not right. I think I appre-
ciate this free time, so now I think I can make a perspective on work. When I go
back, I hope I change this so that I will be clever enough not to repeat this mis-
take again of spending hours, unpaid hours, for no-one to really appreciate. I
worked really hard in every job I get. Now I’ve had time to reflect on that.
Breaking a negative pattern of behaviour would be a significant step,
and it would not have occurred without the objective view on her for-
mer life that was provided by distance. Depending on reactions in the
professional community, such transformation could have important
implications for emotional and physical well-being: this study therefore
echoes the call made by Martin and Harrell (2004) for research into
the attitudes of colleagues of returning professionals. Extended tourist
trips may equally lead to feelings of dissatisfaction with pre-departure
work and careers; indeed the successful re-assimilation of returnees
is noted by Martin and Harrell (2004) and Hampton (2007) as a signif-
icant Human Resource Management problem.
A similar change in outlook between the beginning and end of the
sojourn was the Thai interviewee’s rejection of a career choice dictated
by her family, one that she had initially, albeit reluctantly, accepted. To
a home student, the following simple statement might be a common
expression of uncertainty over their future career:
I still keep thinking about what I’m going to do after I finish the course.
This statement was qualified however by reference to a pull between
the individual and the family that would not be so common in individ-
ualist culture:
I know that my family need me to help them but I need to go on my way.
The willingness to prioritise the individual over the group marked a
fundamental shift, representing a break from the norm for obedience
in collectivist society to family (Hofstede 1991). This was reflected in
the contrasting emotional reactions of depression at the start of the so-
journ over a feeling of inescapability to elation in September 2004
when she started to talk about finding my own path:
Making decisions and planning things yourself, deciding yourself what is
going to come next. If I can change, I will. I cannot figure it out right now.
Whereas in September 2003, she felt a prisoner of destiny, a word she
used frequently to refer to a life she had no control over, one year later,
she was using language that reflected an evolution towards autonomy,
thereby calling into question not only family loyalty but also a concept
that is fundamental to eastern religion. According to Giddens (1991),
514 L. Brown / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 502–521

belief in preordained determinism offers comfort in a world of seem-

ing chaos, but rejection of the notion of a mapped-out future was lib-
erating rather than unnerving. Nevertheless, there was apprehension
over her family’s reaction to her new-found assumption of control over
her own future. It is worth considering that re-entry problems might be
greater among those students who, having developed individualist ten-
dencies, must return to life in a highly conformist society. As Martin
and Harrell (2004) note, the reaction to such evolution is under-re-
searched; this constitutes a serious shortcoming in an era of growing
international travel for education, business and other purposes.

Renegotiating Domestic Life. Re-evaluation of home life was another

outcome of distance from the familiar home world. For the Korean
interviewee, this involved painful reflection on her mothering style,
afforded by a cherished hiatus in a stressful working life:
Study make me very, very refreshed, very happy. First time in a long time. I feel
so happy. In Korea, I got so much stress dealing with my housework and my
work so I cannot do well for my kids. I didn’t intend it to stay like that, but
because of my stress, I complained and scold, ‘do this do this don’t do this’.
I thought about my attitude to my kids, and I regret it.
Distance from ingrained habits and routines had engineered a new
perspective that would have life-long implications for her children:
thus the sojourn could be life-changing not just for the sojourner,
but also for those around them. Equally, Muzaini (2006) and O’Reilly
(2006) argue that some forms of tourism such as backpacking can rep-
resent a life-event that has far-reaching consequences for both career
and personal development.
This was also pertinent to the spouse left behind in the home coun-
try; removal from the domestic sphere led the Taiwanese interviewee to
review the way she communicated with her husband:
I think meeting different culture will help our relationship. I think some people
here, they will do whatever they want, not only what husband want her to do.
But before that, I usually do what my husband wants me to do. Although I
have my opinions, I will put his first priority because in our culture, it’s better
to respect. We usually say your husband is the sky and you are the ground.
Observation of culturally different communication styles made way
for reflection on changes in her married self, which had been imposed
by national culture. The perception of equality in other relationships
reminded her of her single self; suppression of her voice was an aspect
of her married persona that she did not want to resume, and indeed by
the end of the sojourn, she had reverted to her younger, more authen-
tic self:
Usually if I give him my opinion, he will think about it and he will respect my
opinion. And I think that is good. This is mental change. I think I know more
about how to get along with my husband. Sometimes if I do what he wants, it is
not really me. And I don’t like that feeling that I do that. I think at the begin-
ning, he loves me for what I am but I changed for him, maybe that is not what he
really wants. I think if I can keep growing, I think it’s very good for both of us,
we can have more mental communication. It’s just like when we fall in love.
L. Brown / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 502–521 515

Separation had acted to return the couple to a time in life when they
viewed and valued the other as separate beings, before routine and
conformity had taken hold. The ability to express long-withheld opin-
ion was empowering, and it restored intimacy. However, the concept of
assertiveness, which Furnham (1979) defines as the proper expression
of any emotion other than anxiety toward another person, is a culture
bound and specifically North American attribute. In many other cul-
tures, asserting oneself in the way that is normative in the US and parts
of Europe is neither encouraged nor tolerated, especially in women
(Martin and Harrell 2004). Therefore, a change in culturally-defined
wifely behaviour would not necessarily meet approval, and this student
was perhaps fortunate in her husband’s positive reception to commu-
nication differences. Indeed, it might be more common that female
sojourners have to lose the mantle of emancipation if marital tension
is to be avoided.
Posing a further challenge to traditional norms was the vow made by
married students to renegotiate their domestic role and the allocation
of tasks upon their return. Reluctance to resume the demanding role
of wife (and mother) was attributed to a change in expectations follow-
ing both observation of the equality in the UK and extended reflection
on their domestic workload before the sojourn started. Indeed, accord-
ing to Martin and Harrell (2004), female returnees tend to experience
more stress upon re-entry than men, especially if the sojourn has been
in a country whose gender roles are less restrictive. As Hofstede (2001)
points out, the masculinity-femininity dimension affects how families
develop role differences between boys and girls, and the gap varies
by country. Nevertheless, students were hopeful that their absence
might have provoked some evolution in attitude towards domestic la-
bour, as the Taiwanese interviewee explained:
In Chinese society, usually women do everything. But I think it’s different here.
I always compare like that. When I come to study here, everything he does alone,
so when I go back, maybe there will be some progress. He says he appreciates
what I have to do for him.
This hope is not naı̈ve; indeed Bamber (2007) has coined the term
transformation by proxy to describe the changes in attitude and behav-
iour effected in or imposed on immediate friends and family in the ori-
gin culture (his study refers to VSO returnees). In this study,
resocialisation had taken place at home, involving the assumption of
the domestic role in their spouse’s absence, and this might lead to will-
ingness to accept shared responsibility, given the link between mun-
dane activities and attitudinal change that has been previously
observed. As Atkins and Bowler (2001) state, gender roles and defini-
tions are flexible and dynamic, and are therefore open to change: a
new approach to domestic life was not out of the question.

Going Home: A New Beginning. The vow that life would be different
upon re-entry was dulled by awareness that realigning students’ new
self with the home culture might be problematic. The final interview
revealed unanimous concern over implementing changes in a freshly
516 L. Brown / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 502–521

evaluated personal and professional life. If the home environment did

not receive change well, students would perhaps need to face the task
common to returnees of ‘living on the cultural borderlines’, to borrow
Featherstone’s (1995) description of the outcome of cross-cultural con-
tact. To illustrate, improved self-mastery, vaunted in the literature on
transition as a positive outcome, might not be prized in the origin cul-
ture, as students’ apprehension over the imminent return to stricter
control indicates:
I’m just relaxed. I prefer life more, I’m independent. I don’t need permissions.
Here, I’m alone, I have to organise myself. I like that. How can I go back?

Russian student
Aged 21, this was the first time in her life that this student did not
need to defer to parental authority: the freedom afforded by the so-
journ could therefore be viewed as a product of removal from family
life as well as the immersion in a culture, where individuality is prized
over conformity. Indeed, the cultivation of an individualistic outlook
was commonly observed. As previously noted, independence and self-
reliance are themes of individualism, as is priority of the self. Could
it be that a society high in individualism gave students the freedom
to do as they pleased?
I feel I accept something in your culture, which I didn’t like before, I think the
distance between me and my culture is a bit bigger now, and between me and
English culture a bit more closer. I don’t bother myself now.

Iranian student

I don’t care what people think now. I am reluctant now to please someone.

Chinese student
The elevation of self-direction over public opinion was a new devel-
opment; however, such an attitude would be met with hostility in col-
lectivist society, where expression of individuality is not so widely
accepted (Triandis, Bontempo and Villareal 1988). Perhaps self-
responsibility necessitated a distancing from others, but for students
re-entering the home country, such fundamental change might not
be acceptable. The journey was not over until they had negotiated
the return to their old home world. Evolution in attitudes and behav-
iour may not necessarily be accommodated at home; reluctance to re-
turn to the old self may not be the prelude to life-enhancing change.
The anxiety among returning students over the accommodation of
their new values and behaviours points to conflict between the new
and the home cultures. Unless sojourners become successful in moving
fluidly between different life worlds, they might be compelled to un-
dergo the painful and conflicting process of unlearning the new norms
and values absorbed during their journey through a new culture.
Sojourners are in the unique position that the outcome of the sojourn
is only life-enhancing if positive change can be maintained at home. A
change in attitudes may not be easily tolerated if it implies a threat to
L. Brown / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 502–521 517

others’ understanding of the world and by extension, to their existen-

tial security. If the newly constructed self is not sustainable, we might
wonder how sojourners will react; it is possible that the international
experience could finish by disabling returnees: they may be unable
or unwilling to assume their old role, to forget the journey of self-dis-
covery they have travelled. Todres (2002) states that psychotherapy in-
volves the undoing of identity which helps people to navigate a
plurality of contexts: this has some relevance to this study in that the
sojourn acted as a catalyst for self-exploration. However, the parallel
between the psychotherapeutic and the international student journey
ends at the point of re-entry, when the response to sojourners’ new
self-understanding is unknown. A similar dilemma may face the inter-
national long-stay tourist, whose experiences may act as an excluding
and marginalising force, so that they no longer fit in at home. This
is one of the findings of Bamber’s (2007) study of VSO returnees. As
Krippendorf (1986) points out, people are often motivated to travel
by the desire to escape from the monotony of daily life: returning to
such a life might prove problematic.

This paper has shown that the international sojourn has the power to
effect a growth in intercultural competence, as well as a shift in self-
understanding, with long-term implications for personal and profes-
sional life. Such change is the result of exposure to diversity and of
the geographical and emotional distance from the home environment.
The findings of this study undermine the claim made by Ward et al
(2001) that change is more evident among younger sojourners, includ-
ing gap-year tourists, whose socialisation is incomplete, as all students,
regardless of age, underwent fundamental personal change. It also
contradicts the link made by Sussman (2002) between cultural identi-
fication and change: even those who were highly identified with their
nationality and culture experienced a movement in self-concept. It
can be construed that during transition, sojourners are faced with
the fundamental existential question about what constitutes the self.
Todres (2002) argues that although this existential question is affected
by culture and exposure to cultural differences, it is essentially transcul-
tural. The apparent absence of a link between cultural origin and
change in self indicates that change appeared to result from removal
from routine and transfer to a new role. The self was shown to be devel-
opmental, but there was no clear association between type of change
and nationality or culture. Transition offered the foundation for re-
evaluation, for freedom from cultural and familial expectations and
for self-discovery that routine tends to prohibit. It is therefore logical
to suggest that such change will also be experienced by long-stay tour-
ists who are similarly displaced from both the origin culture and every-
day routine. The transformative power of the international sojourn is
captured in Figure 1. It is shown that, depending on environmental
receptivity, the sojourn has the capacity to produce life-enhancing
change upon re-entry. However, if the home culture environment does
518 L. Brown / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 502–521

Developing an tolerance and Confronting
international sensitivity the cultural
perspective; aspect of self;
losing the acquiring a
ethnocentric relativist
focus approach

Testing Intercultural
reserves of learning;
strength; becoming
building a new One year marketable;
capacity for later: the becoming
stress peaceable
end of the

Becoming Discovering
independent; priorities;
taking control finding the
of life authentic self

Finding a One way

voice; fighting ticket:
gender roles; protecting
rejecting altered
societal norms perspectives

Figure 1. One Year Later: Altered Selves

not tolerate these changes, frustration may result. There are possible
parallels to be made between the international student and long-stay
tourist markets in that both types of visitor to the new culture are often
motivated to adjust to the local culture for a temporary period and to
learn culture-specific skills. The prolonged absence from the home
environment and exposure to new cultural norms and ways of behaving
and relating can result in profound changes in cultural and personal
outlook that have implications for the future of both the tourist and
society, if we are to accept that a growth in intercultural competence
is beneficial to global relations. It is hoped that research on the impact
of long-stay tourism will encourage greater understanding of this grow-
ing market in the tourism industry: as MINTEL (2008) suggests, the
global gap year market is set to increase significantly in coming years,
with a trend for more flexible working practices allowing professionals
to take extended leave and sabbaticals to embark on Round The
World/backpacking trips. In addition, it will provide multinational
companies with a better understanding of the change which can occur
during the international sojourn, with potential impacts on their
recruitment and selection procedures.
L. Brown / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 502–521 519

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Received 11 March 2008. Resubmitted 18 September 2008. Final version 16 December 2008.
Accepted 5 March 2009. Refereed anonymously. Coordinating Editor: Melville Saayman

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Annals of Tourism Research, Vol. 36, No. 3, pp. 522–525, 2009

0160-7383/$ - see front matter Ó 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Printed in Great Britain

Heritage Tourism—Current
Resource for Conflict

Yaniv Poria
Ben-Gurion University, Israel
Gregory Ashworth
University of Groningen, The Netherlands

It is often claimed that tourism is an example of transmodernity, representing a

world of peace and understanding, which has broken away from modernity and
ideals of control and domination. Based on the Contact Hypothesis Theory (Rei-
singer and Turner 2003), it is speculated that tourism is a vehicle for social ex-
change, providing opportunities for a ‘people’s diplomacy’. This results in
reducing inter-group prejudice, conflict, and tension. This paper presents the
argument that rather than enhancing understanding, heritage attractions may in-
hibit mutual acquaintance and indeed be an obstacle to it. The heritage site is a
political resource and, as such, it aims to legitimize a specific social reality which
divides people into ‘‘we’’ and ‘‘they.’’ Heritage attractions often aim to highlight
and entrench differences and social boundaries, as contrast between groups is
inherently created when something becomes heritage (Tunbridge and Ashworth
1996). To highlight this argument, three issues are discussed: (a) the uniqueness
of heritagization in comparison to preservation and conservation, (b) the attri-
butes of heritage attractions and heritage artifacts as goods, (c) the interpretation
at sites that present historical violent conflicts. This discussion challenges the pres-
ent body of literature, and the management of the heritage experience, which re-
gard heritage sites as agent of change.
The experiential approach to heritage tourism (Poria, Butler and Airey 2003)
was adopted here. Accordingly, heritage tourism is the experience of spaces which
present tangible and intangible elements perceived by the visitors to be a part of
their own personal heritage. This is in contrast to the descriptive approach which

Research notes and reports/Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 522–532 523

regards heritage tourism as visits to spaces which are classified, authorized, and
authenticated as heritage. The heritage on show may be part of world or local her-
itage, but it must be a heritage that visitors feel is relevant to them more than to
others. Heritage tourism is approached here as the final stage of the heritagization
process, a social process whose final outcome is the presentation and interpretation
(rather than archiving or sustaining) of heritage or even demolishing. Heritagiza-
tion is at the core of heritage tourism, while conservation and preservation are
the core of cultural tourism. Heritagization is a process in which heritage is used
as a resource to achieve certain social goals. One of its main goals is establishing
solidarity among members of a group (national, religious, social, etc.), by high-
lighting the differences between them and others so that this differentiation will
legitimize a certain social order. This approach is common in studies about collec-
tive memory and its presentation (Smith 2006). However, it differs from Walsh’s
(1992) interpretation of this term in the tourism literature. In tourism, heritagiza-
tion usually refers to the conversion of cultural resources and their mass customiza-
tion into globalized products (Inglis and Holmes 2003). As approached here,
heritagization is not about the past but about the use (and abuse) of the past to
educate—and at times inculcate—the public. While preservation and conservation
is about saving and protecting a ‘‘real objective past,’’ heritagization is at times inten-
tionally based on an invented, hidden, as well as a purposely chosen past. Addition-
ally, heritagization centers on ideas and ideological frameworks in contrast to
preservation and conservation which focus on objects (sustaining, repairing, restor-
ing, and even reconstructing them). In heritagization, history is captured as com-
pleted, something that belongs to the inhabitants of the present who can choose
how to interpret and use it to their advantage. Additionally, in heritagization,
the general public (and not experts or semi-experts) must perceive the visit expe-
rience itself as authentic, and for that reason even fake objects can be used. Thus,
conservation aims at cultural enrichment, while preservation adds aesthetic appre-
ciation. Heritagization, for which heritage tourism is often the means, aims at legit-
imizing a certain social-political order and ideological framework. It does so by
rooting them in the past with the hope that they will continue to bear fruit in
the future.
The role of heritage attractions can be understood by thinking of the site and its
experience as a good/service. Heritage attractions are often located in areas that
are considered prime real estate, and are costly to operate. Additionally, the insur-
ance of the artifacts and site maintenance are very expensive, yet, with all these
costs, the visit to the attraction is often free of charge. Moreover, in certain cases
heritage sites indirectly pay for the visits (offering transport or free guides), and,
unlike other institutions in the tourism industry, often wish to provide their ser-
vices to specific audiences only (e.g., school children). Heritage attractions are
(still) subsidized by contributions and donations from the elite and its representa-
tives, allowing the financiers to present their agenda, without intervention, criti-
cism, or public involvement. The actual price of a heritage artifact can also be
understood in the context of the heritagization process. A one-of-a-kind heritage
artifact is often very valuable because of its symbolic meaning, and not based on
criteria ordinarily used to evaluate cultural artifacts, such as aesthetic appearance.
The elite will invest both effort and money, as the meaning of such artifacts is
important for their current and future social survival. However, as soon as the elite
will loose its legitimacy, the value of the heritage site and its accompanying objects
will crash.
The role of heritage attraction can be exemplified by those sites presenting past
violent conflicts, which resulted in human atrocities (Goulding and Domic 2009).
The literature claims that heritage tourism is about the establishment of peace and
understanding (e.g., Hooper-Greenhill 1992). If so, one would expect that sites
which center on the Holocaust, for example, would highlight the dark side of
524 Research notes and reports/Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 522–532

war and advocate peace and tolerance. However, studies indicate that the interpre-
tation in such sites follows a heroic, socialist or nationalist approach to interpreta-
tion (Timothy and Boyd 2003). Such sites often aim to inform/remind the visitors
of their social belonging, reinforce their loyalty to a certain group of people, and
legitimize a certain ideological framework. Similarly, in sites that present military
conflicts, usually no call is made for understanding and tolerance. Soldiers—espe-
cially in their death—are admired by the living who are grateful to the dead. Any
other emotion is seen as akin to treason. Such heritage attractions, although only
an example for certain type of heritage attractions, challenge the common thought
that heritage tourism is a social mechanism aiming at promoting peace and under-
Heritage attractions aim to facilitate the creation of identity (Bandyopadhyay,
Morais and Chick 2008). These spaces aim to endow the present and the future
with a specific value system, cluttering it with selected tangible and intangible ele-
ments. Heritage attractions present ‘‘someone’s heritage and therefore logically
not someone else’s’’ (Tunbridge and Ashworth 1996:21), and as such they pro-
mote solidarity within a certain group by separating it from others. Scholars, prac-
titioners, and visitors should be critical and note that these spaces (and the
organization they are part of) aim to set apart people’s identity and the imperish-
able, up-to-date reasons for that segregation. It is claimed here that most often her-
itage tourist attractions, are a symbol of modernity, serving as walls to prevent
modernity’s deconstruction. Based on part of the title of Tunbridge and Ash-
worth’s (1996) book, it is claimed here that heritage is not only a resource in conflict
but also a resource for conflict, and heritage tourism is one arena to promote it. Addi-
tionally, as heritage attractions play a major role in today’s tourist experience, this
paper challenges the thought that tourism serves as a vehicle for fostering under-
standing and minimizing—and hopefully eradicating—stereotyping. The volume
of the visits to heritage sites may also suggest that visitors seek such heritage expe-
riences for tracing genealogy (genetic or cultural) and for seeking a sense of supe-
riority and uniqueness. To prevent this from happening, heritage tourist
attractions should be managed responsibly, recognizing their possible effects
and realizing that heritage tourism can be a mechanism for social stability.

Bandyopadhyay, R., D. B. Morais, and G. Chick
2008 Religion and Identity in India’s Heritage Tourism. Annals of Tourism Research
Inglis, D., and M. Holmes
2003 Highland and Other Haunts: Ghosts in Scottish Tourism. Annals of Tourism
Research 30:50–63.
Hooper-Greenhill, E.
1992 Museums and the Shaping of Knowledge. London: Routledge.
Goulding, C., and D. Domic
2009 Heritage, Identity and Ideological Manipulation: The case of Croatia. Annals of
Tourism Research 36:85–102.
Poria, Y., R. Butler, and D. Airey
2003 The Core of Heritage Tourism: Distinguishing Heritage Tourists from Tourists
in Heritage Places. Annals of Tourism Research 30:238–254.
Reisinger, Y., and L. W. Turner
2003 Cross-Cultural Behaviour in Tourism: Concepts and Analysis. Oxford: Butter-
Smith, L.
2006 Uses of Heritage. London: Routledge.
Research notes and reports/Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 522–532 525

Timothy, D., and S. Boyd

2003 Heritage Tourism. Harlow: Prentice Hall.
Tunbridge, J., and G. Ashworth
1996 Dissonant Heritage: The Management of the Past as a Resource in Conflict.
Chichester: Wiley.
Walsh, K.
1992 The Representation of The Past: Museums and Heritage in the Post-Modern
World. London: Routledge.

Yaniv Poria: Department of Hotel and Tourism Management, Ben-Gurion Univer-

sity of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel. Email: <>

Submitted 11 November 2008. Resubmitted 27 January 2009. Final version 1 March 2009. Accepted 26
March 2009. Refereed anonymously. Coordinating Editor: Juergen Gnoth


Annals of Tourism Research, Vol. 36, No. 3, pp. 525–532, 2009

0160-7383/$ - see front matter Ó 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Printed in Great Britain

On the Use of Model Averaging

in Tourism Research

Alan T.K. Wan

Xinyu Zhang
City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Econometric modeling now plays a vital role in tourism research. For example,
forecasting is an essential element in the process of tourism planning. Quantitative
tools are also commonly used to evaluate the economic impacts of tourism. The
last several decades have seen a large increase in the number of published studies
on tourism research using econometric and other quantitative approaches. Among
the various econometric techniques, the most widely used is probably linear regres-
sion by least squares, which attempts to determine how variables of interest, such as
tourism demand, relate to other socioeconomic factors such as economic growth,
exchange rates and so on. While the statistical properties of the least squares tech-
nique are well-documented, the technique does not provide researchers with a
means of specifying the model; there is almost always a list of potential explanatory
variables to consider. Presumably it is safe to ignore university entrance scores in
modeling tourist arrivals, but whether the ultraviolet index has any significant im-
pact cannot be known with certainty before the study is undertaken. In practice, we
often face data with an imperfectly specified model and learn of our imperfection
from the data themselves. While data-based non-parametric modeling and optimi-
zation methods such as the genetic algorithm have gained some popularity among
tourism researchers (e.g., Potter and Coshall 1988; Hurley, Moutinho, and Witt
Research notes and reports/Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 522–532 525

Timothy, D., and S. Boyd

2003 Heritage Tourism. Harlow: Prentice Hall.
Tunbridge, J., and G. Ashworth
1996 Dissonant Heritage: The Management of the Past as a Resource in Conflict.
Chichester: Wiley.
Walsh, K.
1992 The Representation of The Past: Museums and Heritage in the Post-Modern
World. London: Routledge.

Yaniv Poria: Department of Hotel and Tourism Management, Ben-Gurion Univer-

sity of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel. Email: <>

Submitted 11 November 2008. Resubmitted 27 January 2009. Final version 1 March 2009. Accepted 26
March 2009. Refereed anonymously. Coordinating Editor: Juergen Gnoth


Annals of Tourism Research, Vol. 36, No. 3, pp. 525–532, 2009

0160-7383/$ - see front matter Ó 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Printed in Great Britain

On the Use of Model Averaging

in Tourism Research

Alan T.K. Wan

Xinyu Zhang
City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Econometric modeling now plays a vital role in tourism research. For example,
forecasting is an essential element in the process of tourism planning. Quantitative
tools are also commonly used to evaluate the economic impacts of tourism. The
last several decades have seen a large increase in the number of published studies
on tourism research using econometric and other quantitative approaches. Among
the various econometric techniques, the most widely used is probably linear regres-
sion by least squares, which attempts to determine how variables of interest, such as
tourism demand, relate to other socioeconomic factors such as economic growth,
exchange rates and so on. While the statistical properties of the least squares tech-
nique are well-documented, the technique does not provide researchers with a
means of specifying the model; there is almost always a list of potential explanatory
variables to consider. Presumably it is safe to ignore university entrance scores in
modeling tourist arrivals, but whether the ultraviolet index has any significant im-
pact cannot be known with certainty before the study is undertaken. In practice, we
often face data with an imperfectly specified model and learn of our imperfection
from the data themselves. While data-based non-parametric modeling and optimi-
zation methods such as the genetic algorithm have gained some popularity among
tourism researchers (e.g., Potter and Coshall 1988; Hurley, Moutinho, and Witt
526 Research notes and reports/Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 522–532

1998; Chen and Wang 2007; Valdés, Torres and Domı́nguez 2007), it is fair to say
that, due to ease of implementation and the analysis being easy to interpret, linear
least squares regression remains the most widely used modeling method in tourism
research, as it does in other social science disciplines.
When confronted by the problem of variable selection in a linear regression,
one commonly proceeds by pretesting. For example, to determine the significance
of the ultraviolet index in a model that seeks to explain tourist arrivals, a t test is
conducted and the ultraviolet index is either retained or dropped accordingly.
The final specification of the model depends on the outcome of pretesting, as
do the estimates of all other coefficients in the model. The popular ‘‘general-
to-specific’’ econometric modeling approach, which involves the formulation of
a general model and the application of a testing down process, eliminating vari-
ables that are not significant, leading to a simpler specific model, also involves
extensive use of pretest strategies. Specification search by pretesting is widely prac-
ticed in tourism research. Vanegas and Croes (2000), for example, searched for the
preferred specification of a model that seeks to explain U.S. tourist arrivals in Ar-
uba based on t tests of significance of the regressors, Song, Witt and Gang (2003)
examined the demand for Thai tourism using the general-to-specific model selec-
tion approach, and Song and Witt (2003) applied the same approach to estimate a
model that explains inbound tourism to Korea.
An issue often raised in criticism of the general-to-specific approach is the lack
of understanding of the effects of the pretest strategies that come into play. In-
deed, econometricians have known for a long time that pretest estimators, all
being discontinuous functions of the data, possess rather poor sampling properties
and distort the usual properties of the least squares estimator in the sense that the
end results are not what they appear to be. See, for example, Danilov and Magnus
(2004a). In applied studies, however, investigators typically report estimates and
associated precision statistics (e.g., standard errors) as if the estimation had not
been preceded by pretesting. Obviously, the reported precision statistics are incor-
rect. Reporting estimate precision should clearly account for the pretesting that
has been integrated into the procedure.
Recent papers by Danilov and Magnus (2004a,b) attempted to do that, and they
showed that ignoring pretesting in reporting the precision of the least squares esti-
mator can lead to very substantial errors. Another widely practiced method closely
related to common pretesting procedures is model selection by schemes such as
the AIC and BIC (the Akaike and the Bayesian information criteria); these meth-
ods are routinely applied, sometimes along with stepwise regressions. Again, inves-
tigators using these procedures typically proceed as if the final model had been
decided in advance, without acknowledging the additional uncertainty introduced
by model selection. There is also a growing collection of literature that discusses
the effects of model selection on inference. See, for instance, Leeb and Pötscher
An alternative approach to pretesting and model selection is model averaging,
where one averages across least squares estimates obtained from different models,
rather than using only one model arrived at by pretesting or a model selection cri-
terion. Model averaging has long been a popular technique among Bayesian statis-
ticians. See Hoeting, Madigan, Raftery and Volinsky (1999) for a non-technical
discussion. In the econometrics literature, several methods for implementing mod-
el averaging in the context of linear regression have recently emerged. Magnus
(2002) and Danilov (2005) advocated a weighted average least squares (WALS) esti-
mator with weights based on a Laplace prior density. The WALS estimator assumes a
set of ‘‘key’’ explanatory variables which the investigator wants in the model on the-
oretical or other grounds irrespective of statistical significance, as well as another set
of ‘‘auxiliary’’ explanatory variables of which the investigator is less certain. The
role of the auxiliary explanatory variables is primarily to improve the estimation
Research notes and reports/Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 522–532 527

of the coefficients of the key explanatory variables. Unlike the pretest estimator, the
resultant WALS estimator is a continuous function of the data and is admissible.
More recently, Hansen (2007, 2008) proposed a model average estimator with
weights selected by minimizing the Mallows criterion. One advantage of model aver-
aging over model selection is that it pays due attention to the problem of model
uncertainty. Thus, model averaging reconciles the disparities caused by pretesting
and model selection, and will undoubtedly be used more extensively in the future.
The latest edition of the New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, for example, in-
cludes a chapter on model averaging (see, Doppelhofer, 2008).
Model averaging tools have been applied widely in biostatistics, and have recently
found applications in economics, finance and sociology. See, for example, Raftery
(1995), Levin and Williams (2003), Sala-i-Martin, Doppelhofer and Miller (2004),
Bird and Gerlach (2006), Doppelhofer and Weeks (2009) and Magnus, Powell
and Prüfer (2008a). There is considerable appeal for using model averaging in other
social science disciplines, and this technical note is meant to broaden its appeal by
using the application in the context of tourism research. Another purpose of this
note is to alert tourism researchers to the dangers of pretesting and model selection
in terms of underreporting the variability of estimates by way of a practical example.
Our examination of model averaging centers on the WALS estimator. More compu-
tationally intensive methods can be employed but the WALS estimator has the dis-
tinct advantage of being simple and is readily applicable without an undue
computational burden; the calculation of the WALS estimates does not require com-
putationally intensive methods such as the Markov Chain Monte Carlo techniques
which are common with Bayesian model averaging. Moreover, appropriate formulae
for computing the standard errors of the WALS estimates are available, while the
practical application of some other model average estimators has been limited to
some degree by the fact that they produce only point estimates.
Our practical example is taken from a recent paper by Reeder and Brown
(2005), who used linear regression to determine the degree to which recreation
and the development of tourism affected a range of socioeconomic indicators
(e.g., earnings per job, income per capita, rent levels, death rate, etc.) in 311 rural
U.S. counties during the 90s and 2000. Corresponding to each of the socioeco-
nomic indicators is a multiple regression model with the socioeconomic indicator
as the dependent variable. The key explanatory variable of the regressions is
dependency on recreation and tourism as measured by a so-called Z-score. The
Z-score, as developed by Johnson and Beale (2002), covers tourism-related employ-
ment and income shares of the local economy, as well as the share of total county
homes dependent on recreational use. The higher the Z-score the more depen-
dent a county is on recreation and tourism. Reeder and Brown (2005) were primar-
ily interested in the coefficient estimate of the Z-score, though they also included
21 other explanatory variables such as dummy variables on county types and regio-
nal subdivisions and a range of demographic variables in each regression. We will
reconsider the regression models formulated by Reeder and Brown (2005), not to
re-evaluate the conclusions reached by the authors, but to analyze the effect of
pretesting, highlighting the merits of model averaging as an alternative to model
We have performed analyses based on data of both 90s and 2000, but in the
interest of brevity we only present the results for 2000 here. The general conclu-
sions are the same with the data of 90s and the results are available upon request.
Table 1 lists the 16 dependent and 22 explanatory variables used in Reeder and
Brown’s (2005) study. Our analysis treats the intercept term and the Z-score as
the key explanatory variables and all others as auxiliary explanatory variables. In
illustrating the effects of pretesting we adopt a stepwise selection procedure that
begins like backward elimination. However, after two or more variables have been
removed from the model, a forward selection procedure is employed to allow vari-
528 Research notes and reports/Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 522–532

Table 1. List of Variables

Dependent variables Explanatory variables (excluding intercept)

1. Employment-population ratio of 1. Z-score

ages 16-24
2. Employment-population ratio of 2-9. Eight dummy variables identifying the
ages 25-64 Census regional subdivisions
4. Employment-population ratio of 10-19. Ten dummy variables reflecting
ages 65 and over
8. Earnings per job Johnson and Beale’s (2002) recreation
county types
9. Income per capita
10. Median rent 20. Dummy variable indicating whether the
county is influenced by a nearby
metropolitan area
11. Population growth rate 21. Percentage of county population residing
in rural areas
12. Travel time to work 22. County population density
13. Percentage of population
without HS diploma
14. Percentage of population with
bachelor’s degree
15. Physicians per 100,000
16. Age-adjusted death rate per
100,000 population

ables that have been eliminated to be reconsidered for inclusion. The procedure
continues until no additions or deletions of variables are indicated. In our applica-
tion we choose the significance level for adding a variable to be 0.05 and for remov-
ing a variable to be 0.10. Note that the significance level set for entering a variable
should always be smaller than that for removing a variable otherwise cycling is pos-
sible where a variable is continually entered and removed. Stepwise selection is a
popular model selection procedure and automated routines for this procedure
are available in most statistical software packages like SAS or Matlab. The estima-
tion results for the coefficient of the Z-score are shown in Table 2. Column 2 in
Table 2 gives the estimates of the coefficients of the Z-score based on the model
selected by stepwise selection for each of the 16 regressions. The third column
gives the 95% confidence bounds of the coefficients when pretesting is not taken
into account. These are the confidence bounds usually reported in applied work
when the researcher assumes (erroneously) that the model has been chosen in ad-
vance. The numbers in Column 4, on the other hand, are the ‘‘correct’’ 95% con-
fidence bounds when one pays due attention to the effect of stepwise selection on
the variability of the estimates. The formulae for computing the correct confidence
bounds are available from Danilov and Magnus (2004b). We see that in all cases
the commonly reported confidence bounds that ignore pretesting underreport
the true confidence bounds. In some cases the difference between the reported
and the correct confidence bounds can be very large. In the worst case, the true
confidence bounds are 10.87 times as wide as the bounds that ignore pretesting;
on average they are 2.95 times as wide. The correct confidence bounds are typically
much wider than is apparent and the reported bounds are far too optimistic.
The WALS coefficient estimates and the 95% confidence bounds appear in Col-
umns 5 and 6 respectively. The formulae for computing the WALS confidence
Research notes and reports/Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 522–532 529

Table 2. Estimates of Coefficient of Z-score in Each Regression and Confidence Bounds

Model1 Pre-test Reported Pre-test Correct Pre-test WALS WALS confidence

estimate confidence confidence estimate bounds
bounds bounds

1 1.19 (0.50, 1.87) ( 0.68, 2.96) 1.19 (0.48, 1.90)

2 0.89 (0.20, 1.59) ( 0.76, 2.60) 1.00 (0.29, 1.71)
3 1.01 (0.56, 1.46) (0.08, 2.01) 1.13 (0.67, 1.59)
4 1.63 ( 340.92, 344.18) ( 456.81, 440.90) 37.8 ( 303.22, 378.82)
5 880.47 (514.87, 1246.07) ( 93.26, 1786.26) 898.9 (520.14, 1277.66)
6 1073.54 (558.91, 1588.18) ( 222.67, 2311.72) 1077.42 (550.79, 1604.05)
7 1538.95 (965.59, 2112.31) (431.10, 2511.70) 1563.95 (992.77, 2135.14)
8 32.83 (23.84, 41.82) (16.47, 48.72) 34.28 (25.29, 43.27)
9 4.48 (2.89, 6.07) ( 0.64, 9.82) 4.84 (3.11, 6.58)
10 0.27 ( 0.67, 0.13) ( 1.58, 1.07) 0.26 ( 0.69, 0.17)
11 0.84 ( 1.34, 0.33) ( 2.20, 0.50) 0.81 ( 1.33, 0.30)
12 1.42 ( 1.93, 0.90) ( 2.62, 0.13) 1.41 ( 1.94, 0.88)
13 2.22 (1.59, 2.85) (1.14, 3.36) 2.36 (1.73, 2.99)
14 1.59 ( 7.49, 10.68) ( 21.42, 22.82) 1.32 ( 7.88, 10.52)
15 25.88 ( 37.60, 14.16) ( 62.03, 13.62) 25.45 ( 37.93, 12.97)
16 0.67 (0.50, 0.83) ( 1.05, 2.51) 0.65 (0.47, 0.82)

Models 1-16 are based on, respectively, dependent variables 1-16 listed in Table 1.

bounds are available in Magnus et al (2008a). In all cases the WALS and pretest
coefficient estimates have the same sign, and the difference in magnitude between
the two estimates is usually not large. However, without exception the WALS esti-
mates produce confidence bounds with a decreased width from the (true) pretest
confidence bounds. On average the WALS confidence bounds are 42.84% as wide
as the correct pretest confidence bounds; thus notable reductions in estimator var-
iability are achievable with the WALS approach. This is expected because model
averaging usually leads to estimates that are of superior precision than those
achieved by selecting a single model, as demonstrated in the theoretical literature.
While these results are, of course, specific to the data example considered here,
the evidence does provide an indication of the performance gains that are possible
over a range of models involving tourism data. The WALS estimator is very easy to
implement—the steps involved in implementing the WALS estimator and the Mat-
lab codes written to produce the estimates are available online at http://fbstaff. Admittedly, one disadvantage of WALS is
that it is not strictly suitable outside the standard linear regression context; also,
the optimality properties established for the WALS estimator do not apply to time
series models such as ARIMA or transfer function models which are also common
tools for tourism research. These issues are currently being addressed; for exam-
ple, work in process by Magnus, Wan and Zhang (2008b) is developing a variant
of the WALS estimator for models with autocorrelated or heteroscedastic errors.
Finally the following illustration sheds some light on the advantage afforded by
model averaging in forecasting with common time series models. This is highly rel-
evant in light of the large (and growing) tourism forecasting literature. Our illus-
tration uses data on the number of long-stay visitor arrivals in Barbados between
1956 and 1992 given in Dharmaratne (1995). The author estimated two Box-Jen-
kins ARIMA models, namely, ARIMA(2,1,1) and ARIMA(2,1,1)(1,1,1)5, with data
from 1956 to 1987, and based on forecasted values generated by these two models
for the remaining years he concluded that the ARIMA(2,1,1) specification is bet-
530 Research notes and reports/Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 522–532

Table 3. Forecast Comparisons

Period Actual Value Forecasts (absolute percentage errors in brackets)

ARIMA(2,1,1) ARIMA(2,1,1)(1,1,1)5 Averaged model

1988 451443 453721 (0.50%) 409067 (9.39%) 451980 (0.12%)

1989 461259 463343 (0.45%) 367310 (20.37%) 459600 (0.36%)
1990 432092 462613 (7.06%) 348448 (19.36%) 458163 (6.03%)
1991 394222 464243 (17.76%) 298296 (24.33%) 457775 (16.12%)
1992 385979 473952 (22.79%) 302413 (21.65%) 467266 (21.06%)

ter. Our purpose is to demonstrate that substantial gains in forecast accuracy can
be achieved by compromising across the two models. WALS is not applicable here
because the models involved do not fall within the framework of linear regression.
Our subsequent analysis is based on another well-known model weighting scheme,
namely, the Smooth AIC weight introduced in Buckland, Burnham and Augustin
(1997). This weight is proportional to the value of exp(-AICS \0.5), where AICS is
the AIC score for candidate model S. Dharmaratne (1995) reported the coefficient
estimates and AIC scores for both models; for the ARIMA(2,1,1) model, the AIC
score is 430.26 while for ARIMA(2,1,1)(1,1,1)5, it is 436.67. While these two AIC
values are very comparable, they still point to a preference for ARIMA(2,1,1).
We now apply model averaging using the Smooth AIC scheme and generate fore-
casts for 1988 to 1992. Table 3 presents the forecasts and their absolute percentage
errors. The forecast performance of the ARIMA(2,1,1)(1,1,1)5 model is rather
poor—except for 1992 its predictions are always worse, and usually by a large mar-
gin, than those based on the ARIMA(2,1,1) model. The forecast performance of
the averaged model is quite remarkable—in all cases under consideration the fore-
casts obtained from the averaged model are closer to the true values than those
obtained from the better of the two single models. The averaged model yields a
mean absolute percentage forecast error of 8.74%, while the corresponding figures
for the ARIMA(2,1,1) and ARIMA(2,1,1)(1,1,1)5 models are 9.71% and 19.02%
The techniques that have been illustrated are just two of the available model
averaging techniques and one can adopt other more complex combining tech-
niques in practice. Nonetheless we view the results presented here as being very
promising. Certainly, further exploration of the model averaging approach in tour-
ism research seems to be justified.

Acknowledgements—The authors thank Richard Reeder and Dennis Brown of the U.S. Depart-
ment of Agriculture for supplying the data used in this study, and the referees, editor and
associate editor for comments and suggestions.

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Leeb, H., and B. M. Pötscher
2005 Model Selection and Inference: Facts and Fiction. Econometric Theory
Levin, A. T., and J. C. Williams
2003 Robust Monetary Policy with Competing Reference Models. Journal of
Monetary Economics 50:947–975.
Magnus, J. R.
2002 Estimation of the Mean of a Univariate Normal Distribution with Known
Variance. Econometrics Journal 5:225–236.
Magnus, J.R., O. Powell, and P. Prüfer
2008a A Comparison of Two Averaging Techniques with an Application to Growth
Empirics, mimeo, Department of Econometrics and Operations Research, Tilburg
University, the Netherlands.
Magnus, J.R., A.T.K. Wan, and X. Zhang
2008b WALS Estimation with Non-Spherical Disturbances and an Application to the
Hong Kong Housing Market, mimeo, Department of Econometrics and Opera-
tions Research, Tilburg University, the Netherlands.
Potter, R. B., and J. Coshall
1988 Sociopsychological Methods for Tourism Research. Annals of Tourism
Research 15:63–75.
Raftery, A. E.
1995 Bayesian Model Selection in Social Research. Sociological Methodology
Reeder, R.J., and D.M. Brown
2005 Recreation, Tourism and Rural Well-Being. Economic Report Number 7,
Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. (Paper available
online at
Sala-i-Martin, X., G. Doppelhofer, and R. M. Miller
2004 Determinants of Economic Growth: A Bayesian Averaging of Classical Estimates
(BACE) Approach. American Economic Review 94:813–835.
Song, H., and S. F. Witt
2003 Tourism Forecasting: The General to Specific Approach. Journal of Travel
Research 42:65–74.
532 Research notes and reports/Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 522–532

Song, H., S. F. Witt, and L. Gang

2003 Modeling and Forecasting the Demand for Thai Tourism. Tourism Economics
Valdés, L., E. Torres, and J. S. Domı́nguez
2007 A Model to Study the Economic Impact of Collective Accommodation in a
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Vanegas, M., and R. R. Croes
2000 Evaluation of Demand: US Tourists to Aruba. Annals of Tourism Research

Alan T.K. Wan: Department of Management Sciences, City University of Hong

Kong, 83 Tat Chee Avenue, Kowloon, Hong Kong. Email: <>

Submitted 18 July 2008. Resubmitted 26 November 2008. Resubmitted 11 February 2009. Final version
3 March 2009. Accepted 26 March 2009. Refereed anonymously. Coordinating Editor: Juergen Gnoth


Available online at

This Department publishes reviews of recent publications in or related to the
study of tourism. Individuals interested in submitting review essays and book
reveiws should write directly to the Associate Editor for Publications in Review,
Stephen Smith <>. Unsolicited reviews will not be


Annals of Tourism Research, Vol. 36, No. 3, pp. 533–534, 2009

Printed in Great Britain

Culture on Tour
By Edward M. Bruner. The University of Chicago Press (<>) 2005, ii + 308 pp (notes, references, index). $25.00
Pbk. ISBN 0-226-07763-2

Janet Chang
Chinese Culture University, Taiwan

One word, transnationalism, encapsulates the primary theme that pervades this
book. The concept is developed through a thorough grounding in and long prac-
tice of cultural anthropology. The aim of the book is to apply a reflexive ethnogra-
phy to what other researchers (such as John Urry, Nelson Graburn, Hildred
Geertz, and the author’s own previous works) have written on tourism and culture;
the author is successful in achieving this goal. The volume is designed to inform
well-educated readers who are interested in both tourism and culture, domestically
and internationally. Thus, to get the most out of the volume, the reader probably
needs to be an anthropologist who is familiar with the principles of ethnography
or, at least, who is used to careful reading of reflexive materials. In other words,
this is not an easy book for someone who is just interested in international tourism,
per se, or even for a reader looking for novel insights into cultural tourism. In fact, it
is likely to be difficult reading even for experienced tourism academics.
The work is a compendium of post-tour narratives with cases from East Africa,
USA, and Indonesia. In the introduction, the author declares that the unity of
the book stems from a consistent conceptual perspective based on constructivism.
Mobility, travel, and encounters are inherent to the process of tourism at a variety
of temporal and spatial scales. Stories, narration, and retellings are expressions
that structure and give voice to the tourism experience. Furthermore, various eth-
nographic perspectives are presented throughout the book, such as the reflexivity
of the tourists, the toured (who, in these cases, are indigenous people), and the
author; dissident voices associated with heritage sites; ambiguity and paradox
resulting from the historical specificity of cultural products; and the blurred

534 Publications in review / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 533–549

complexities of authentic and inauthentic experiences as perceived by tourists. Gi-

ven the numerous specialized terms employed by the author, as illustrated by these
examples, the general reader could easily be scared away.
The volume consists of nine chapters of thick description. The bulk of the text
constitutes reflections on locations that the author has toured and researched.
These include Mayers Ranch in East Africa, Elmina Castle in Ghana, heritage sites
associated with Abraham Lincoln in New Salem, Illinois (US), the mountain for-
tress of Masada in Israel, and Indonesia. In the latter case, insights are drawn from
Balinese cultural experiences, Taman Mini ethnic theme park in Jakarta, and rein-
corporation of rituals of Toba Batak ceremonies of blessing and gift exchange and
rituals for deceased migrants in the Sumatra highlands. The foci of discussion are
tourists, the toured objects, and the intertwining relationship among tourists, local
people, and the author. Of the chapters, that on Ghana is the least developed in
terms of the breadth and depth of narratives that are considered.
Of the field-based studies of tourism ethnography discussed, this reviewer found
the Indonesian cases to be most intriguing and the best part of the book. This is
partly because the author has spent a number of years there for personal, profes-
sional, and even family reasons, so that the various cultural observations are most
richly and convincingly confirmed in these cases. Furthermore, it was easier for the
reviewer to relate to these cases because of her own travel experiences.
The author is particularly concerned with what he calls the touristic border
zone- a performative space within which tourists and locals meet. He views perfor-
mance as constituting emergent culture. The utility of these concepts is clearly
illustrated throughout the cases through the sharing of various stories with readers.
Important issues in tourism, such as authenticity, the livelihoods of local people,
and identity and power relationships in the nation-state are addressed. In the latter
case, the recreational and political functions of Taman Mini in Jakarta are exam-
ined through discussion of the contrasting displays of diverse cultural products
and the tensions between such diversity and the unity of the Indonesian nation,
whose national creed is, in fact, ‘‘unity in diversity’’. The varied meanings of such
displays to different parties are admirably discussed.
The author is fond of using binary concepts, such as global and local to juxta-
pose differing emphases and to provide divergent and balanced perspectives.
The constant reflection and reflective narratives of the author are one of the
strengths of the book but they also make it difficult to read and only the persistent
and thoughtful reader is likely to glean the variety of perceptive insights that are
contained in this work.
Janet Chang: Department of Tourism, Chinese Culture University, Taipei, Taiwan
111. Email: <>

Assigned 17 January 2008. Submitted 17 February 2009. Accepted 18 February 2009.

Publications in review / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 533–549 535

Annals of Tourism Research, Vol. 36, No. 3, pp. 535–536, 2009

Printed in Great Britain

Tourism Management: Analysis,

Behaviour, and Strategy
Edited by Arch Woodside and Drew Martin. CAB International,
Wallingford <> 2008, xi + 528 pp (figures, tables, photos,
index). $ 55 Pbk. ISBN 978-1-84593-323-4

Erdogan Koc
Dogus University, Turkey

Tourism Management: Analysis, Behaviour, and Strategy, provides extensive coverage

of articles written by authors with quite different perspectives on tourism and hos-
pitality. The majority of the 27 chapters are quite interesting to read, with Chapter
5, on ‘‘Tourist Harassment and Responses’’ by Jerome McElroy, Peter Tarlow, and
Karin Carlisle a particularly good one. The authors in this chapter explore an
important topic in tourism and marketing yet one that has been largely ignored
so far. On the other hand, there are one or two chapters too in the book that make
the reader question their raison d’eˆtre in the book.
It is surprising that although there are so many chapters with a marketing orien-
tation in the book, this fact apparently did not merit comment in the introductory
chapter. For instance, while Chapters 2, 3, 4, 6, 18, and 24 focus on tourist behav-
iour, tourist motivation, and tourist typologies, while Chapters 8, 10, 12, 14, 15, 19,
and 23 focus on market or product segmentation. Chapters 11 and 20 focus on an-
other marketing sub-field: marketing communications. Even among the remaining
eight chapters, there are a few others that could be classified to some extent as
The book’s chapters have been grouped into six parts. However, the reader
may find it difficult to relate the individual chapters to its particular part because
the groupings sometimes lack cohesion. The groupings of articles often seems a
bit forced and artificial. For example, Part 4, ‘‘Implementing’’ covers topics as
diverse as the globalization of health care through medical tourism, theme park
management, and wine tourism. From another perspective, Chapters 25, 26 and
27, on economic, sustainability, and human resources, respective, might have
come earlier, possibly just after the introductory chapter. For these reasons,
the use of the book may be limited, to an extent, to serving as a reference source
alone. There are likely to be few scholars who would be interested in reading all
of individual articles.
The book is suited for three groups of readers: tourism academics, higher re-
search degree students, and practitioners in the field of tourism, hospitality, and
leisure who are seeking material on specific topics. Academics with research inter-
ests in the fields of tourism, hospitality, and leisure marketing, in particular, may
find this reference book a helpful tool for designing their own research because
it provides many original ideas for doing research in the field. Then again, some
might argue that there are already quite a range of tourism and hospitality journals
that provide access to the topics in this collection.
536 Publications in review / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 533–549

Additionally, academics involved in postgraduate teaching and research supervi-

sion may find the book useful in identifying research topics for their students. Sim-
ilarly, higher research degree students may find the book a good source of ideas
for future research and for determining topics of their theses.
The book is not particularly relevant for undergraduate students. Practitioners
already operating or planning to operate in one of the markets covered by the
book may use limited parts of it for bringing themselves up-to-date with recent
trends and developments and hence understand their markets better. However,
compared with academics and higher research degree students, the potential for
the book to be used by practitioners may be limited as many may not be sufficiently
equipped to understand and enjoy many of the papers.

Erdogan Koc: Department of Business Administration, Faculty of Economics and

Administrative Sciences, Kadikoy, Istanbul, Turkey. E-mail: <>

Assigned 13 January 2009. Submitted 11 March 2009. Accepted 12 March 2009.


Annals of Tourism Research, Vol. 36, No. 3, pp. 536–538, 2009

Printed in Great Britain

Travel and Tourism: An Industry Primer

By Paul Biederman, Jun Lai, Jukka Laitamaki, Hannah Messerli, Peter
Nyheim, Stanley Plog. Pearson Prentice Hall <>
2008, xxix + 608 pp (figures, tables, photos, references, index) US
$83.00 Hbk. ISBN 0-13-170129-0

Michael J. Gross
University of South Australia, Australia

Any book calling itself a primer has set itself a grand agenda, establishing expec-
tations that it will encapsulate all the essential aspects of its topic. Authors in any
field undertaking this challenge are to be commended for their ambition. This is
especially true in a field such as tourism, which is in a relatively nascent state of
conceptual development, and around which much debate continues to swirl
regarding the nature, definition, and components of the field. Faced with myriad
options for how to structure such a book, any selection of topics is bound to be dif-
ficult. However, the authors have assembled a collection of issues that deliver a
creditable version of a disparate economic sector.
The structure of the book is complex: two parts, each divided into sections that
are further divided into chapters aimed at different but compatible audiences. Part
One is targeted at undergraduates, with twelve chapters that cover basic elements
of the tourism sector. Part Two has nine chapters that span a variety of more ad-
vanced topics that are intended for postgraduates. This design allows instructors
to use the first part as a basis for a core course curriculum, with sections drawn
536 Publications in review / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 533–549

Additionally, academics involved in postgraduate teaching and research supervi-

sion may find the book useful in identifying research topics for their students. Sim-
ilarly, higher research degree students may find the book a good source of ideas
for future research and for determining topics of their theses.
The book is not particularly relevant for undergraduate students. Practitioners
already operating or planning to operate in one of the markets covered by the
book may use limited parts of it for bringing themselves up-to-date with recent
trends and developments and hence understand their markets better. However,
compared with academics and higher research degree students, the potential for
the book to be used by practitioners may be limited as many may not be sufficiently
equipped to understand and enjoy many of the papers.

Erdogan Koc: Department of Business Administration, Faculty of Economics and

Administrative Sciences, Kadikoy, Istanbul, Turkey. E-mail: <>

Assigned 13 January 2009. Submitted 11 March 2009. Accepted 12 March 2009.


Annals of Tourism Research, Vol. 36, No. 3, pp. 536–538, 2009

Printed in Great Britain

Travel and Tourism: An Industry Primer

By Paul Biederman, Jun Lai, Jukka Laitamaki, Hannah Messerli, Peter
Nyheim, Stanley Plog. Pearson Prentice Hall <>
2008, xxix + 608 pp (figures, tables, photos, references, index) US
$83.00 Hbk. ISBN 0-13-170129-0

Michael J. Gross
University of South Australia, Australia

Any book calling itself a primer has set itself a grand agenda, establishing expec-
tations that it will encapsulate all the essential aspects of its topic. Authors in any
field undertaking this challenge are to be commended for their ambition. This is
especially true in a field such as tourism, which is in a relatively nascent state of
conceptual development, and around which much debate continues to swirl
regarding the nature, definition, and components of the field. Faced with myriad
options for how to structure such a book, any selection of topics is bound to be dif-
ficult. However, the authors have assembled a collection of issues that deliver a
creditable version of a disparate economic sector.
The structure of the book is complex: two parts, each divided into sections that
are further divided into chapters aimed at different but compatible audiences. Part
One is targeted at undergraduates, with twelve chapters that cover basic elements
of the tourism sector. Part Two has nine chapters that span a variety of more ad-
vanced topics that are intended for postgraduates. This design allows instructors
to use the first part as a basis for a core course curriculum, with sections drawn
Publications in review / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 533–549 537

from the second part to supplement different levels and interests. As a practical
matter, the distinction between under- and postgraduate fitness of any given chap-
ter will be at the discretion of course planners, and, despite the ‘‘advanced’’ adjec-
tive applied to Part Two, the academic level of all chapters is relatively equal.
Part One contains two sections, the first of which contains chapters entitled
‘‘Dimensions of Travel and Tourism’’, ‘‘An Economic Overview of Travel and
Tourism’’, ‘‘The Psychology of Travel’’, and ‘‘Sustainable Tourism Development’’.
This group of topics provides an overview of the sector’s scope, economics, con-
sumer behaviour, and development issues. It provides prelude information upon
which understanding of subsequent topics can be layered. The early placement
of economic considerations sets a tone that is carried through the text. The second
section of Part One, ‘‘The Sectors’’, contains chapters on ‘‘The Airline Industry’’,
‘‘The Rail, Motorcoach, and Rental Car Industries’’, ‘‘The Cruiseline Industry’’,
‘‘Amusement Parks and Other Major Attractions’’, ‘‘The Gaming Industry’’, ‘‘Lod-
ging’’, ‘‘The Food Service Industry’’, and ‘‘Conventions and Meetings’’. This is the
heart of the book, and is a particular strength. It not only includes standard func-
tional areas that would be expected, but also some that would typically be present
only in more specialised texts, such as railroads, rental cars, and theme parks. The
chapter on food service is especially well done, with a sound mix of general and
specific information that leaves the reader with a good understanding of how food
concepts integrate with the other aspects of the tourism experience.
Part Two contains four sections, the first of which is subtitled ‘‘Defining, Pro-
moting, and Selling the Product’’. The chapters in this section are ‘‘Travel Agents
and Tour Operators’’, ‘‘Distribution Channels’’, and ‘‘Destinations: A Psycho-
graphic and Sociological Perspective’’. While these and the other Part Two chap-
ters stand on their own, some also serve to supplement previous chapters. This is
certainly characteristic of ‘‘Destinations: A Psychographic and Sociological Per-
spective’’, which complements the earlier chapter, ‘‘The Psychology of Travel’’,
exploring in more detail the connections among lifestyle, psychographics, venture-
someness, and the positioning and life cycle of destinations.
The second section of Part Two is subtitled ‘‘Conservation and Intervention’’,
with chapters on ‘‘Ecotourism: Tourism’s Green Adventure’’ and ‘‘Government,
Politics, and Tourism’’. A deliberate attempt seems to have been made in the latter
chapter to counter the general US-centric orientation of the book. This chapter
uses a wide array of international settings and examples to illustrate the critical role
of politics in tourism. The third section of Part Two, ‘‘Management Tools’’, con-
tains chapters on ‘‘Revenue Management’’, ‘‘Measuring the Economic Impact’’,
‘‘Forecasting’’. This is a useful inclusion of practical tools that should constitute
a competitive advantage for the book, as the level of detail will provide helpful
examples for both students and managers. The book concludes with ‘‘What’s Next
for the Industry?’’, a subsection containing a single chapter, ‘‘The Future’’. This
chapter takes the unusual approach of examining the industry from a historical
perspective of 2030, looking back on imagined world and industry developments.
Predictions consider such concepts as the aging population, attraction and destina-
tion rationing, space tourism, climate change, and their effects on various industry
Some of the text’s facts bear re-checking, such as a photo of Boeing 707 jetliner
(p. 80) claiming it began commercial service in 1953 (it started in 1958), the Man-
darin Oriental group displacing Hyatt and other groups in a table of the ten largest
lodging companies (p. 265), and how astronaut Buzz Aldrin’s name is spelled (p.
572). However these are minor criticisms in a text filled with a voluminous amount
of information on the industry.
Chapters include learning objectives, chapter summaries, margin glossaries, dis-
cussion questions, website listings, interviews with industry leaders, ‘‘Focus on
538 Publications in review / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 533–549

Technology’’ inserts, as well as photographs and illustrations. The book is in-

tended as ‘‘a true primer in the sense of a comprehensive educational experience
for tourism and well-enough balanced to accommodate all of the disparate reader
constituencies’’ (p. xx). The text has succeeded in delivering on its purpose and
would be suitable in a higher education setting as well as for use by industry pro-
fessionals who seek a general reference text.
Michael J. Gross: School of Management, University of South Australia, Adelaide,
South Australia, 5000, Australia. Email: <>

Assigned 10 November 2008. Submitted 2 March 2009. Accepted 3 March 2009.


Annals of Tourism Research, Vol. 36, No. 3, pp. 538–539, 2009

Printed in Great Britain

The Encyclopedia of Tourism and

Recreation in Marine Environments
Edited by Michael Lück. CAB International <> 2008,
x + 587 pp (figures, tables, bibliography) US$199.00 Hbk, ISBN-13 978
1 84593 350 0

Michael M.G. Scantlebury

University of Central Florida, USA

Michael Lück’s The Encyclopedia of Tourism and Recreation in Marine Environments

offers ‘‘almost 900 entries from its 170 authors’’ (p. v) on tourism and recreation
in marine environments. The vision of the editor and his board was to create an
essential reference for the subject area. Indeed, the editorial board has done an
excellent job in selecting and editing the entries.
Choosing topics for inclusion in such a volume will always be challenging and a
discussion of the strategy adopted to define the scope of an encyclopedia can be
informative. Unfortunately, there is no discussion of the rationale regarding the
topics selected, except to indicate that it was the intention of the editorial board
to ‘‘bring together the terms, concepts, and theories related to recreational and
tourism activities in marine settings’’ (back cover). It is, of course, always possible
to suggest items that might have been included. For example, activities such as kite
surfing, wake boarding, and wave jumping are missing. More importantly, the work
of the Caribbean Conservation Association in protecting the marine environment
of the Caribbean since the 60s is not recognized, nor is the work of McGill Univer-
sity’s Bellairs Research Institute, which was founded in Barbados in 1954. The cov-
erage of specialized encyclopedias often becomes dated, requiring new editions,
usually after about five years. Still, this is a timely and useful work.
The double-column layout of the entries is attractive, and the inclusion of
charts, maps, graphs, diagrams, and pictures to support the concepts discussed is
538 Publications in review / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 533–549

Technology’’ inserts, as well as photographs and illustrations. The book is in-

tended as ‘‘a true primer in the sense of a comprehensive educational experience
for tourism and well-enough balanced to accommodate all of the disparate reader
constituencies’’ (p. xx). The text has succeeded in delivering on its purpose and
would be suitable in a higher education setting as well as for use by industry pro-
fessionals who seek a general reference text.
Michael J. Gross: School of Management, University of South Australia, Adelaide,
South Australia, 5000, Australia. Email: <>

Assigned 10 November 2008. Submitted 2 March 2009. Accepted 3 March 2009.


Annals of Tourism Research, Vol. 36, No. 3, pp. 538–539, 2009

Printed in Great Britain

The Encyclopedia of Tourism and

Recreation in Marine Environments
Edited by Michael Lück. CAB International <> 2008,
x + 587 pp (figures, tables, bibliography) US$199.00 Hbk, ISBN-13 978
1 84593 350 0

Michael M.G. Scantlebury

University of Central Florida, USA

Michael Lück’s The Encyclopedia of Tourism and Recreation in Marine Environments

offers ‘‘almost 900 entries from its 170 authors’’ (p. v) on tourism and recreation
in marine environments. The vision of the editor and his board was to create an
essential reference for the subject area. Indeed, the editorial board has done an
excellent job in selecting and editing the entries.
Choosing topics for inclusion in such a volume will always be challenging and a
discussion of the strategy adopted to define the scope of an encyclopedia can be
informative. Unfortunately, there is no discussion of the rationale regarding the
topics selected, except to indicate that it was the intention of the editorial board
to ‘‘bring together the terms, concepts, and theories related to recreational and
tourism activities in marine settings’’ (back cover). It is, of course, always possible
to suggest items that might have been included. For example, activities such as kite
surfing, wake boarding, and wave jumping are missing. More importantly, the work
of the Caribbean Conservation Association in protecting the marine environment
of the Caribbean since the 60s is not recognized, nor is the work of McGill Univer-
sity’s Bellairs Research Institute, which was founded in Barbados in 1954. The cov-
erage of specialized encyclopedias often becomes dated, requiring new editions,
usually after about five years. Still, this is a timely and useful work.
The double-column layout of the entries is attractive, and the inclusion of
charts, maps, graphs, diagrams, and pictures to support the concepts discussed is
Publications in review / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 533–549 539

helpful. Most have a short listing of Internet resources that facilitate follow-up
research. The cross-listing of entries through the bolding of entry titles in the text
makes it easy for the researcher to find information and to know quickly which
items are included elsewhere in the encyclopedia. Further, the font and spacing
make the text easy to read. The 20 pages of references and 24 pages of further
reading are impressive.
Despite some of the omissions touched on previously, the coverage is extensive.
It includes general topics such as the physical environment in which tourism and
recreation in the marine environment occur, the flora and fauna found in these
environments as well as the environmental pressures on them, the nature of man’s
interaction and the activities conducted, and the policies and institutional frame-
works that operate and guide the human interactions in these marine environ-
ments. The volume also provides biographical notes on persons who have had
an impact on the marine environment. These range from the explorers like
Christopher Columbus, Sir Francis Drake, and Vasco da Gama to inventors such
as Jacques-Yves Cousteau and cruise line entrepreneurs, such as Ted and Micky
The style of writing is non-technical, clear, and concise, yet factual and informa-
tive. The entries range in complexity from simple definitions, for example, bays
and islands, to more complex concepts such as the visitor impact management
model/framework. Thematically, the concepts cover the active and passive, from
intrinsic motivation to flow, from whale watching to snuba and surfing. Although
there is an effort to cover the globe from the Arctic to the Antarctic, there appears
to be slightly more of a focus on the Pacific and Europe.
The editors and authors have been successful in creating a valuable reference
text. However, a few entries reflect some idiosyncrasies rather than a purely schol-
arly approach. For example, something called the ‘‘laws of tourism’’ is included
under the ‘‘Accessibility’’ entry but without any citation to this concept. The
‘‘Windward Islands’’ entry also refers to the ‘‘Society of Islands’’ [sic] in French
Polynesia and fails to identify the names of islands in this Caribbean subgroup.
Given that ‘‘[t]he economy of most of the islands in this group is heavily depen-
dant on tourism’’ (p. 537) and that the ‘‘Caribbean is often referred to as most
tourism dependant region of the world’’ (Jayawardena 2002:89), a paragraph on
each island would have been desirable.
This is, of course, a highly specialized volume so the market is likely to be lim-
ited. Still, it will be a welcome addition to the reference collections of libraries in
universities, colleges, and planning agencies involved with recreation, tourism, and
marine studies.
Michael M.G. Scantlebury: University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida, USA
32819. Email: <>

Jayawardena, C.
2002 Mastering Caribbean Tourism. International Journal of Contemporary Hospi-
tality Management 14(2):88–93.

Assigned 10 July 2008. Submitted 6 February 2009. Accepted 18 February 2009.

540 Publications in review / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 533–549

Annals of Tourism Research, Vol. 36, No. 3, pp. 540–541, 2009

Printed in Great Britain

Nature-based Tourism, Environment, and

Land Management
Edited by Ralf Buckley, David Weaver, and Catherine Pickering. CAB
International <> 2008, ix + 213 pp (figures, tables, biblio-
graphy, index) US$55 Pbk. ISBN 978-1-84593-455-2

Honggen Xiao
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, China

The presence of tourists in parks and protected areas often complicates the
management of reserves because of the need to balance protection and use. This
book addresses the links, partnerships, and conflicts between tourism development
and conservation land management from both conceptual and practical perspec-
tives. Selected from presentations to a 2001 conference convened by the Interna-
tional Center for Ecotourism Research (Griffith University, Australia), this
collection offers nineteen chapters on the use of pristine lands for tourism and rec-
The text has a marked Australian focus, with fifteen chapters by Australian
authors. Only eight authors (out of thirty) are from institutions outside Australia.
The collection contains only two cases about the US and one dealing with South
Africa. Nonetheless, the introductory and concluding chapters add to the value
of this collection as a stand-alone text that will have relevance beyond Australia.
Buckley’s opening chapter presents a review of large-scale trends that trigger the
growth of nature-based tourism and hence places tourism and commercial devel-
opment at the top of the agenda for land management, particularly for public
lands where budgetary resources are often shrinking, and agencies are seeking
alternative strategies to sustain their management functions.
Eugenio Yunis also presents a broad overview of sustainable tourism, in this case,
from an inter-governmental perspective. The conclusion by Robyn Bushell ties to-
gether diverse empirical discussions in a sustainable development framework.
While nature-based tourism is proposed as a mechanism to fund conservation ef-
forts, there remains the challenge for agencies to plan for appropriate use by vis-
itors. Reading through the cases, the extent to which an appropriate level of use of
natural reserves is maintained constitutes the key challenge for managers. As noted
by Bushell, the inadequacy of monitoring and controlling visitor impacts in a pro-
tected area largely results from its systems and mechanisms ‘‘which are not
equipped to predict or monitor the often complex, subtle, and cumulative impacts
[of visitation] on biodiversity or cultural heritage’’ (p. 197). These conceptual
discussions succeed in setting a context for the technical papers and serve as a plat-
form on which the pendulum arguments between conservation and development
make sense.
The main body of the text, fifteen technical papers, explores a breadth of issues
related to the management of natural reserves for tourism and recreation. The is-
sues include financial liability in case of visitor injuries (Jan McDonald), visitor fees
and risk management of park agencies (Ralph Buckley, Natasha Witting, and
Michaela Guest), economic returns from competing uses of forests (e.g., tourism
Publications in review / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 533–549 541

and recreation versus forestry as reported by John Ward with examples from New
South Wales Native Forests), and the use of visitor impact data by or for park man-
agements (Ralf Buckley and Narelle King).
Some of the case studies are conducted in different jurisdictions or on diverse
ownership structures. For example, Les Carlisle describes a model of partnership
in private reserves in South Africa that incorporates the private sector, the local
community, and the conservation agency. Jerry Johnson, Bruce Maxwell, and Rich-
ard Aspinall focus on land-use changes in the Greater Yellowstone Region in the
US West, which were accompanied by broader social and economic changes. An-
other chapter with examples from outside Australia is by Alan Watson and William
Borrie, in which a business approach to managing public lands in the US is intro-
duced. The authors outline a proposal to blend marketing activities with protec-
tion of public land resources through a focus on relationships, trust,
commitment, and social responsibility.
A variety of nature-based tourism activities and their associated impacts are
examined in these studies, including wildlife tourism (Karen Higginbottom, An-
drew Tribe, and Rosemary Booth), nature tourism in mountain areas (Catherine
Pickering, Stuart Johnson, Ken Green, and Graeme Enders), water-based recrea-
tion in coastal areas (with two chapters by Troy Byrnes and Jan Warnken), trails
(Jennie Whinam, Nicole Chilcott, Roger Ling, and Phil Wyatt), and snow manage-
ment in winter tourism (Catherine Pickering and Wendy Hill). An issue common
to all these nature-based tourism activities is their impact on the physical environ-
ment. A best practice for environmental management and a method for calculat-
ing environmental sensitivity are also presented among these discussions.
In terms of information on which these reports are based, the majority of the
chapters can be characterized as qualitative descriptions drawing from documen-
tary sources and/or experiences. Hardly any primary data are reported nor do
the analyses presented by most authors involve sophisticated techniques. There
are, some exceptions, though, such as the chapter on economic benefits from rec-
reation versus timber production, and some chapters that introduce methods to
calculate environmental sensitivity, or develop and test a model of tourism poten-
tial in the Grampians National Park in the southeast of Australia. Overall, with tight
editorial and stylistic alignments, the text makes a good read.
As implied in the book’s introduction, the purpose of this collection is to facil-
itate dialog and information exchange among land owners, land management
agencies, and tourism operators. Arguably, the uptake of research information
by practitioners from anthologies such as this remains to be seen because of the
dominance of academic perspectives among the contributors. Readers interested
in this topic could also find an eco-tourism series from CAB International, of which
this is one of seven titles. Pedagogically, the book is not a good choice as a required
undergraduate text, yet facilitators of graduate seminars on this subject could ben-
efit from the controversies and richness of perspectives derived from many of these
case studies.
Honggen Xiao: School of Hotel and Tourism Management, Hong Kong Polytech-
nic University, Hong Kong SAR, China. Email: <>

Assigned 17 November 2008. Submitted 21 January 2009. Accepted 06 February 2009.

542 Publications in review / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 533–549

Annals of Tourism Research, Vol. 36, No. 3, pp. 542–543, 2009

Printed in Great Britain

Residential Tourism:
(De)Constructing Paradise
Mason R. McWatters. Channel View Publications <www.channelview-> 2008, viii + 188 pp (figures, bibliography, index).
Pbk. US$49.95 ISBN 13 9781845410902

Paul F. Wilkinson
York University, Canada

What happens to an area in a developing country when an international maga-

zine publishes an article entitled, ‘‘Paradise found: Where to retire abroad’’,
describing that area as ‘‘one of five idyllic places—from Patagonia to Phuket—
where you can still live like a king on what you’ve saved’’ (Kratz 2005)? The area
is Boquete, an agricultural community in the highlands of Panamá. Over five years,
the foreign population of this community rose from under two dozen to in excess
of 500, and is projected to increase into the thousands within the next decade. The
result, as the author of Residential Tourism notes, is that ‘‘Boquete has been thrust
into a crossroads between its provincial, agriculturally-oriented past and its immi-
nent future as an international destination for residential tourism’’ (p. 2).
The aim of this book is ‘‘to examine Boquete at this crossroads and to investi-
gate the social impacts of residential tourism on place and community at the local
level, by directly exploring how its inhabitants—both native and foreign—experi-
ence their shared place of residence’’ (p. 2). The book offers insights into the res-
idents’ identities, values, desires, and interactions with each other. In addition, ‘‘by
investigating foreign and native residents’ experience of Boquete at this critical
juncture, there exists an opportunity to investigate how a complex, transformative,
and little understood phenomenon such as residential tourism affects places and
communities at the local level’’ (p. 2).
McWatters defines residential tourism as ‘‘the enduring practices and lifestyles
which result from a channeled flow of consumption-led, permanent or
semi-permanent migration to a particular destination’’ (p. 3). While there has been
some research in Spain and France on this phenomenon, there has been little in
Latin America, despite the high numbers of expatriates in Mexico and Costa Rica.
McWatters argues that residential tourism is often part of a broader search pro-
cess for identifying a final retirement destination. He feels, however, that the more
commonly-used term, international retirement migration, does not adequately re-
flect the lasting experiences, effects, and identities that develop and persist in a
destination long after the physical process of migration has occurred. He explores
these topics through four general questions:

 How do native and foreign residents experience their shared place of

 What prevailing meaning does this place hold for each residential group?
 In a social context, what is being created and what is being destroyed during the
process of residential tourist growth and development?
Publications in review / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 533–549 543

 What is the evolving nature of residents’ relationships with their place of


The research is built on both an excellent analysis of the literature and a solid qual-
itative research framework, outlined in detail in an appendix. (In fact, this appen-
dix could be well-used in a course on field research methods.)
The book clearly describes both positive and negative impacts of residential tour-
ism on this particular community and, by extension, potentially on other commu-
nities. The author, however, does not glorify it as progressive development or
condemn it as wrongful destruction. McWatters concludes that ‘‘residential tourism
is what it is: one of the many faces of ubiquitous and nebulous globalizing processes
acting on a variety of levels to create new forms of social, cultural, and economic
interaction, greater interconnectedness, and significant transformations to our
many notions of place and community’’ (p. 160). He argues that, by trying to under-
stand the effects of residential tourism, positive change can be affected by promot-
ing progressive outcomes while simultaneously highlighting and trying to minimize
undesirable outcomes. In particular, he posits two opportunities for promoting
such outcomes: governmental policy that regulates real estate development in these
areas and provides funding and resources for local people faced with the impacts of
such development, and attempts to make residential tourists more aware of the real-
ities of the landscape in which they have come to live and their impacts on it.
In contrast to many studies of tourism development that provide little informa-
tion about the place being researched, this book presents the reader with a more
than adequate geography—in the old-fashioned sense of the term—of the district.
It does, however, essentially fail visually. There is one map of western Panamá, but
it is poorly reproduced (possibly from the Internet), includes no scale, and does
not locate the district with respect to the rest of the country. (One is left wonder-
ing, for example, how the tourists travel to Boquete. If by plane, where is the air-
port? If by road from Panamá City, 500 km away, where is the highway?) There is,
moreover, no map of the district itself, despite frequent references to local fea-
tures, residential developments, roads, and so on. In addition, the author’s photo-
graphs range from extremely interesting (e.g., locally-made signs protesting
residential development) to almost completely useless (e.g., a view of the ‘‘interior
‘hidden valley’’’ that has no recognizable features).
These minor quibbles aside, McWatters has produced an excellent, well-written
book. It appears to be the result of his MA in Latin American Studies at The
University of Texas at Austin where he is currently a doctoral student in Geography.
If this is what he can produce from an MA, the results of his PhD are awaited with
bated breath.

Paul F. Wilkinson: Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University, Toronto, ON,

Canada M3J 1P3. Email: <>

Kratz, E. F.
2005 Paradise found: where to retire abroad. Fortune <
magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2005/07/11/8265242/index.htm> (Retrieved
18 January 2009).

Assigned 18 December 2008. Submitted 23 January 2009. Accepted 26 January 2009.

544 Publications in review / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 533–549

Annals of Tourism Research, Vol. 36, No. 3, pp. 544–545, 2009

Printed in Great Britain

The Tourism Society’s Dictionary for

the Tourism Industry, 3rd Edition
Verite Reily Collins. CABI Publishing <> 2008, ix + 150 pp
(photos) $29.95 Pbk ISBN 978-1-84593-449-1

Wayne William Smith

College of Charleston, USA
I have always wanted to brag to my friends and colleagues that I have read an
entire dictionary. Now I can say I have done so, and I did it in less than two hours
(at least the first time around)! The Tourism Society’s Dictionary for the Tourism
Industry, 3rd Edition is an interesting piece of work. This eclectic book goes beyond
providing definitions, to including things such as the international radio alphabet,
listings of countries around the world (with basic facts), weights and measures, and
airline and airport codes. Add to that a description of idioms and illustrations and
one is left with an odd but yet fascinating overview of the tourism sector.
One of the challenges to creating any dictionary is deciding which definitions to
use. Consider the term, ‘‘ecotourism’’. The International Ecotourism Society’s
(2008) definition of the term is, ‘‘responsible travel to natural areas that conserves
the environment and improves the well-being of local people.’’ Merriam-Webster
(2008) defines ‘‘ecotourism’’ as ‘‘the practice of touring natural habitats in a man-
ner meant to minimize ecological impact.’’ Fennell (2001) estimates there are, in
fact, at least 85 different definitions of ‘‘ecotourism’’. Given all these possible
choices, The Tourism Society’s Dictionary for the Tourism Industry (2008) offers:
1. Destination-based visits/tours and considered to be small-scale tourism
development, using local products and produce with a clear orientation
to local flora and fauna. 2. Tours that do not disturb the local environ-
ment whist producing income for areas. (p. 26)
While some variation from existing definitions is to be expected, this definition
is awkwardly constructed and it incorporates elements such as ‘‘small-scale’’ that
do not appear in the most commonly used definitions of ecotourism.
Another example of a curious definition is the one offered for ‘‘tourism’’, itself.
While the authors could have chosen to use the World Tourism Organization’s def-
Tourism comprises the activities of persons traveling to and staying in
places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecu-
tive year for leisure, business, and other purposes. (UNWTO 1994)
They offer:
temporary movement of people to destinations outside the places where
they normally live and work generally for pleasure, although there is a
growing sector for business tourism, and the activities during their stay
at these destinations. (p. 75)
The dictionary’s occasionally unique definitions may have been acceptable if
there were a basis for them or some discussion of why the dictionary’s particular
wording was adopted. However, there is no background or explanation of how
any of the definitions were developed. While such a lack of explanation of the
Publications in review / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 533–549 545

rationale for specific definitions is consistent with other dictionaries, there are so
many instances where the definition is sufficiently idiosyncratic that one begins to
wonder how the definition was developed.
As a result, this dictionary should not be considered to be an authoritative aca-
demic reference. Overall, though, the book could lead to some excellent pub dis-
cussions among tourism academics arguing about its definitions. Indeed, the text
did lead to some interesting discussions among my colleagues and me. We noted,
for example, an apparent need for tourism academics to develop more terminol-
ogy that begin with the letters X (4 entries), Y (8 entries), and Z (6 entries). More
seriously, while The Tourism Society’s: Dictionary for the Tourism Industry, 3rd Edition is
not appropriate for classroom or scholarly purposes, it is enjoyable to read and has
potential that could yet be realized if some of the entries were based on more
established (and explicit) sources in future editions.
Wayne W. Smith: Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, College of
Charleston, Charleston, SC, USA 29424, E-mail: <>

2008 Ecotourism (18
December 2008).
The International Ecotourism Society
2008 The International Ecotourism Society—Definitions & Principles—ecotourism
aspx?articleid=95&zoneid=2 (18 December 2008).
Fennell, D. A.
2001 A Content Analysis of Ecotourism Definitions. Current Issues in Tourism
1994 Recommendations on Tourism Statistics. Madrid: UNWTO.
Assigned 13 November 2008. Submitted 18 January 2009. Accepted 19 January 2009.

Annals of Tourism Research, Vol. 36, No. 3, pp. 545–547, 2009

Printed in Great Britain

A Narrative Community: The Voices

of Israeli Backpackers
By Chaim Noy. Wayne State University Press, Detroit, Michigan, USA
48201 <> 2007, xii + 238 pp (appendices,
references, subject index, author index) $29.95 Hbk. ISBN 978-0-8143-

Wendy Hillman
CQUniversity, Australia

A Narrative Community: The Voices of Israeli Backpackers is part of the Raphael Patai
Series in Jewish Folklore and Anthropology of the Wayne State University Press. The
Publications in review / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 533–549 545

rationale for specific definitions is consistent with other dictionaries, there are so
many instances where the definition is sufficiently idiosyncratic that one begins to
wonder how the definition was developed.
As a result, this dictionary should not be considered to be an authoritative aca-
demic reference. Overall, though, the book could lead to some excellent pub dis-
cussions among tourism academics arguing about its definitions. Indeed, the text
did lead to some interesting discussions among my colleagues and me. We noted,
for example, an apparent need for tourism academics to develop more terminol-
ogy that begin with the letters X (4 entries), Y (8 entries), and Z (6 entries). More
seriously, while The Tourism Society’s: Dictionary for the Tourism Industry, 3rd Edition is
not appropriate for classroom or scholarly purposes, it is enjoyable to read and has
potential that could yet be realized if some of the entries were based on more
established (and explicit) sources in future editions.
Wayne W. Smith: Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, College of
Charleston, Charleston, SC, USA 29424, E-mail: <>

2008 Ecotourism (18
December 2008).
The International Ecotourism Society
2008 The International Ecotourism Society—Definitions & Principles—ecotourism
aspx?articleid=95&zoneid=2 (18 December 2008).
Fennell, D. A.
2001 A Content Analysis of Ecotourism Definitions. Current Issues in Tourism
1994 Recommendations on Tourism Statistics. Madrid: UNWTO.
Assigned 13 November 2008. Submitted 18 January 2009. Accepted 19 January 2009.

Annals of Tourism Research, Vol. 36, No. 3, pp. 545–547, 2009

Printed in Great Britain

A Narrative Community: The Voices

of Israeli Backpackers
By Chaim Noy. Wayne State University Press, Detroit, Michigan, USA
48201 <> 2007, xii + 238 pp (appendices,
references, subject index, author index) $29.95 Hbk. ISBN 978-0-8143-

Wendy Hillman
CQUniversity, Australia

A Narrative Community: The Voices of Israeli Backpackers is part of the Raphael Patai
Series in Jewish Folklore and Anthropology of the Wayne State University Press. The
546 Publications in review / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 533–549

book was written about the community of Israeli backpackers and the stories from
their journeys that form a foundation for their narratives. These narratives then
become part of a wider discourse surrounding travel and experiences or events
that changed the backpackers. In this case, the narratives were extracted from,
and formed the basis of, the author’s PhD research, where he realised early in
the research that ‘‘the structure of the travel narratives was related to their con-
tent’’ (p. vii). Therefore, A Narrative Community is about how the performances
of travel stories were socially produced. It examines how the performance of the
narratives produced particular effects on the listeners, the implications of this
for the audiences who heard the narratives with regard to the particular ideologies
that were promoted in the ‘‘specific discursive sociocultural context’’ (p. viii), and
the role the specific travel narratives played in these performances.
Furthermore, as it is widely held that tourism research does not have a ‘‘system-
atic theoretical framework’’ (p. viii), this book seeks to rectify that position and to
provide the reader with a comprehensive contribution to ‘‘the particularities of the
language(s) of tourists’’ (p. viii). Thus, this book focuses on what is unique in
Israeli backpacker’s descriptions of their experiences.
Forty-four Israeli backpackers were interviewed upon their return from overseas
travel. The book links the backpackers’ stories through textual analysis and thus
serves as a form of interpersonal connectors where the voices of others persuasively
weave the individuals into a closely bound tourist community, giving those who
have undertaken the ‘‘great journey’’ (as the author calls it) a sense of with com-
munal authority and a sought-after sense of shared communal experience and
belonging. Within the context of this monograph, the Israeli backpacker experi-
ence is a metaphor for an evangelistic, religious, or born-again rite of passage. It
is also a sociolinguistic journey observed through the lens of metalinguistics. Ulti-
mately, it is also a narration itself.
Enthusiasts of Foucault, Bordieu, Barthes, Derrida, Goffman, Bakhtin, Simmel,
Lucan, and Bauman will benefit from the theoretical linkages utilised throughout
the work. Likewise, admirers of Cohen, Crang, Adler, Riley, Urry, Lash, Pearce,
MacCannell, Dann, and Elsrud will be enthralled by the intricate weave of research
and related issues to backpacking experiences through the employment of connec-
tions to their scholarly work on tourism in general and backpackers in particular.
This book is essentially about the narrative and discursive practices of the Israeli
backpacking community and how this community performs the narratives of their
backpacking journeys after they have returned from their ‘‘great journey’’. The
method used to gain insight into the performances of the narratives is one of meta-
discursive analysis, based on the framing of both the backpackers themselves and
their travel experiences. ‘‘The book brings together knowledge and methods from
the fields of linguistic anthropology, discourse analysis and communication’’ (p.
ix) in which ethnographies of speech and performance are used to deconstruct
the tales of backpacking experiences.
A Narrative Community is divided into nine chapters with an epilogue to conclude
the book. It is also divided into ‘‘Sites’’ where the Introduction (Chapters One and
Two) form the first site. This section addresses how backpackers and others who
hear their narrated travel stories are seduced into trying the journey for them-
selves. Site two is comprised of the quotations of the backpackers who narrate their
tales of physical, mental, and personal growth. This section also provides quota-
tions from their personal narrative journeys and provides an insight into the devel-
opment of a backpacking narrative community. Site Three is the Conclusion,
where the tales of transformation through privation, dedication, and perseverance
are brought to a close. Finally, the Epilogue draws all the narrative threads to-
gether and presents us with a cohesive, self-transformed Israeli backpacking com-
Publications in review / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 533–549 547

The book is clearly written and is logically presented in deconstructionist terms.

The style and structure of the book is appropriate to the topic and sets out, with
ingenuity, the journey from lone backpacker to backpacker community, and all
the stages of growth and self-transformation or discovery in between. The descrip-
tion of the creation of snowball stemmata (Appendix A) is appropriate to the
book, as it shows the reader how respondents were identified and the interviews
undertaken. The reference list, subject index, and author index will be helpful
in directing scholars to other relevant works.
This book will be an excellent text for use by researchers, scholars, and students
of tourism and related studies who have more than a passing interest in the sub-
culture of the backpacking community. While this book is specifically written about
Israeli backpackers, the findings can be applied to all backpacking communities
and backpackers. This book is a worthwhile excavation into the life and driving
force behind backpackers and their raison d’eˆtre. I recommend this work to all those
who research backpackers and their communities in any capacity.
Wendy Hillman: Department of Behavioural and Social Sciences, CQUniversity,
Rockhampton, Queensland, 4702, Australia. Email: <>

Assigned 18 November 2008. Review submitted: 14 January 2009. Accepted: 16 January 2009.


Annals of Tourism Research, Vol. 36, No. 3, pp. 547–549, 2009

Printed in Great Britain

The Study of Tourism: Anthropological

and Sociological Beginnings
Edited by Dennison Nash. Elsevier <
find/bookseriesdescription.cws_home/BS_TSSS/description > 2007
xii + 305 pp (appendix, references, index) $120.00 Pbk. ISBN 978 0 08
044240 2

Edward M. Bruner
University of Illinois, USA

This is the most interesting book on tourism that I have read in years. The aim of
the volume is to trace the early development of tourism studies in anthropology
and sociology. The editor invited thirteen scholars to write personal histories of
how they first got interested in tourism, to describe the institutional contexts in
which their studies developed, to discuss the intellectual currents at the time,
and to tell how their research has changed up to the present. Before the 70s, there
was no discernible anthropology or sociology of tourism, so what we have here is an
account of the beginnings presented by the pioneers in the field, and in their own
The accounts are so fascinating to me not only because of what we learn about
the emergence of tourism studies, but also because of what they tell us about the
interplay of the personal and the conceptual. Life stories intersect with academic
Publications in review / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 533–549 547

The book is clearly written and is logically presented in deconstructionist terms.

The style and structure of the book is appropriate to the topic and sets out, with
ingenuity, the journey from lone backpacker to backpacker community, and all
the stages of growth and self-transformation or discovery in between. The descrip-
tion of the creation of snowball stemmata (Appendix A) is appropriate to the
book, as it shows the reader how respondents were identified and the interviews
undertaken. The reference list, subject index, and author index will be helpful
in directing scholars to other relevant works.
This book will be an excellent text for use by researchers, scholars, and students
of tourism and related studies who have more than a passing interest in the sub-
culture of the backpacking community. While this book is specifically written about
Israeli backpackers, the findings can be applied to all backpacking communities
and backpackers. This book is a worthwhile excavation into the life and driving
force behind backpackers and their raison d’eˆtre. I recommend this work to all those
who research backpackers and their communities in any capacity.
Wendy Hillman: Department of Behavioural and Social Sciences, CQUniversity,
Rockhampton, Queensland, 4702, Australia. Email: <>

Assigned 18 November 2008. Review submitted: 14 January 2009. Accepted: 16 January 2009.


Annals of Tourism Research, Vol. 36, No. 3, pp. 547–549, 2009

Printed in Great Britain

The Study of Tourism: Anthropological

and Sociological Beginnings
Edited by Dennison Nash. Elsevier <
find/bookseriesdescription.cws_home/BS_TSSS/description > 2007
xii + 305 pp (appendix, references, index) $120.00 Pbk. ISBN 978 0 08
044240 2

Edward M. Bruner
University of Illinois, USA

This is the most interesting book on tourism that I have read in years. The aim of
the volume is to trace the early development of tourism studies in anthropology
and sociology. The editor invited thirteen scholars to write personal histories of
how they first got interested in tourism, to describe the institutional contexts in
which their studies developed, to discuss the intellectual currents at the time,
and to tell how their research has changed up to the present. Before the 70s, there
was no discernible anthropology or sociology of tourism, so what we have here is an
account of the beginnings presented by the pioneers in the field, and in their own
The accounts are so fascinating to me not only because of what we learn about
the emergence of tourism studies, but also because of what they tell us about the
interplay of the personal and the conceptual. Life stories intersect with academic
548 Publications in review / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 533–549

stories. Dennison Nash writes about his personal feeling of being an outsider, and
his intellectual life-long focus as a scholar has been on the stranger, the expatriate,
and the tourist. Dean MacCannell gives us a brilliant and hilarious account of his
teenage years and early development as a scholar, and he includes his dissertation
proposal to study European tourism, from 1966! The proposal was rejected by his
thesis committee at Cornell as too ambitious, which shows how outrageously con-
servative professors can be, but many of the ideas in that proposal are more fully
developed in his 1976 classic, The Tourist. If I may add a side comment in this
review, I say to Dean that yes, you are an anthropologist.
Jeremy Boissevain traces his lifelong love affair with Malta, and his shift from the
positive side of tourism impact back to the more negative side. Erik Cohen
describes how he ‘‘bumped into tourism’’ in his first anthropological fieldwork,
where he at first ignored and even resented the tourists that intruded into his
research site, but later came to recognize their critical importance for his project.
It was a serendipitous event that became a turning point in his professional life.
Graham Dann presents a charming description of what he calls, ‘‘The life and
times of a wandering tourism researcher’’. Nelson Graburn reports on the twists
and turns of his active career, and one comes to understand why Berkeley has be-
come an international center for the anthropology of tourism.
Marie-Françoise Lanfant enlightens us about international tourism as a global
system, and explains the distressing intricacies of politics at her institution, the
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique. Malcolm Crick presents a moving
description of his efforts at Deakin University to teach courses on tourism, to get
time off for research, and to obtain decent funding. Before completing an anthro-
pological monograph on the community of Maldon, he lost his battle with cancer
and passed away in 2006 at the young age of 58. The book is appropriately dedi-
cated to his memory. Pierre L. van den Berghe’s chapter is filled with theoretical
and methodological insights, Michel Picard constructs a most sophisticated analy-
sis of Balinese tourism, and there are also contributions by Jafar Jafari, Valene
Smith, and Margaret Byrne Swain.
The editor calls the contributors ‘‘informants’’, directs them ‘‘to keep explana-
tions and interpretations to a minimum’’, and sees himself as the ethnographer pro-
viding the master synthesis. Fortunately, most participants did not follow his
directive, so we have rich, evocative, and in some cases, brutally honest accounts in
which the contributors interpret themselves. The concluding chapters by the editor
lack an engagement with the interplay of ideas and are thus not an intellectual his-
tory, but this was not the editor’s purpose. The meat of the book is in the personal
Many of the contributors write about the shift from ahistorical, positivist, struc-
tural, and quantitative models of social analysis that had been so dominant in the
social sciences at the beginning of their careers, to the more interpretative, quali-
tative, constructivist, reflexive, and postmodern perspectives that came to be main-
stream. Another theme along these lines is the tension between business-oriented
management concerns and more scientific theoretical work.
These thirteen authors should not be thought of as isolated individuals develop-
ing tourism studies in their own fashion. Rather, they know each other, attend the
same meetings and important conferences—Mexico City in 1974, Marly-le-Roi in
1986, Madrid in 1990, Berkeley in 2005—and most importantly, are influenced
by and respond to each other’s work in dialogic interplay.
Some contributors correct misunderstandings of their work, which I appreciated
as I have been guilty of these misunderstandings. Nash makes it clear that although
he wrote about tourism as a form of imperialism, he is not a Marxist and, in fact,
has long fought the Marxists in his department at Connecticut. Graburn empha-
sizes that his work on tourism as a sacred journey was inspired not by Victor Turner
Publications in review / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 533–549 549

but by his Cambridge supervisor, Edmund Leach. MacCannell sets the record
straight that he did not reduce the tourists’ quest to a ‘‘search for authenticity’’.
For me, his clarification was convincing and I now have a better understanding
of his position on authenticity.
In fact, I now have a better appreciation of the academic writings of all these
scholars after having read their narrative histories, as I have come closer to under-
standing them as persons.
In conclusion, I want to present some data that I have gathered from Deborah
Winslow, the Program Director for Cultural Anthropology at the National Science
Foundation, which is a major source of research funding for anthropologists. Dur-
ing the 1980–1986 period, there was no separate category for proposals to NSF for
tourism studies, which means that either no proposals were submitted or they were
so few that no separate category was deemed necessary. Sixteen years later, in the
2006–2007 period, 8.9% of the cultural anthropology submissions to NSF had a
tourism component, as did 7.1% of the awards granted (personal conversation
May 14, 2008). These amazing data point to the recent fluorescence of tourism re-
search that augurs well for the future of the field, and must indeed be encouraging
to the pioneering anthropology-sociology scholars who in the 70s took the first ten-
tative steps to develop a new line of inquiry. We owe an immense debt to Dennison
Nash for bringing this important volume together.

Edward M. Bruner: Department of Anthropology, University of Illinois, 607 S.

Mathews, Urbana, IL 61801, USA. Email <>

Assigned 6 May 2008. Submitted 15 June 2008. Accepted 16 July 2008.

Annals of Tourism Research, Vol. 36, No. 3, pp. 550–553, 2009
Printed in Great Britain

This department lists conferences and sessions of interest to the academic
community. All relevant announcements should be sent directly to the Calendar
Editor, Honggen Xiao <>. Since the dates or locations
of conferences are subject to change, interested individuals are advised to
consult the listed information sources.

2009 Royal Geographical Society and the

Institute of British Geographers Con-
World Marketing Congress
Date: August 26–28
Date: July 22–25
Location: Manchester, UK
Location: Oslo, Norway
Theme: The conference offers a session
Theme: Marketing in Transition: Scar-
on Hospitality and Regeneration
city, Globalism, and Sustainability. The
Information: Peter Lugosi <plugosi@
congress offers program tracks on>
Tourism, and Services Marketing
Information: Academy of Marketing
Advances in Tourism Marketing
Date: September 7–9
Location: Dorset, UK
International CHRIE (annual confer- Theme: Innovations in Tourism
ence) Marketing
Date: July 29–August 1 Information: Alan Fyall <Afyall@
Location: San Francisco CA, USA>
Theme: Bridging the Visions of Hospi-
tality and Tourism Education Worldwide British Academy of Management Con-
Information: Council on Hotel, Restau- ference
rant and Institutional Education <www. Date: September 9–11> Location: Brighton, UK
Theme: The conference offers a track
on Hospitality, Leisure and Tourism
AIEST (annual conference) Management
Date: August 23–27 Information: <
Location: Savonlinna, Finland conference2009>
Theme: Management of Change in
Tourism: Creating Opportunities – ‘‘Dickens and Tourism’’ Conference
Overcoming Obstacles Date: September 11–14
Information: International Association Location: Nottingham, UK
of Scientific Experts in Tourism www. Information: < ttri>

Calendar / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 550–553 551

International Conference on Tourism Chinese Heritage and Tourism in Aus-

Development and Management tralia and the Pacific
Date: September 11–14 Date: October 9–11
Location: Kos Island, Greece Location: Victoria, Australia
Theme: Tourism in a Changing World: Theme: Dragon Tails: Re-interpreting
Prospects and Challenges Chinese-Australian Heritage
Information: <> Information: <
Merkur International Conference on
Leisure and Tourism Geography
TTRA Canada (annual conference)
Date: September 18–19
Date: October 14–16
Location: Karlsruhe, Germany
Location: Guelph ON, Canada
Theme: Developments of Tourism,
Theme: Away from the Mainstream:
Leisure, and Recreation in Low
Niche Tourism in Urban Fringes, Rural
Mountain Ranges
Roads, Cultural Quarters, and Emer-
Information: <www.tourismc-futures.
ging Destinations
Information: Travel and Tourism
Research Association-Canada <www.
Tourism and the Third Sector: Releas->
ing the Potential
Date: September 18–20
Location: Neuchatel, Switzerland Destination Development and Branding
Information: < Conference
conference> Date: October 14–17
Location: Eilat, Israel
IATUR (annual conference) Information: Shaul Krakover <shaul@
Date: September 23–25>
Location: Lueneburg, Germany
Theme: The conference offers tracks
International Tourism Biennial Confer-
on Leisure; and Environment, Geogra-
phy and Travelling
Date: October 14–17
Information: International Association
Location: Canakkale, Turkey
for Time Use Research <www.leuphana.
Theme: Marketing the Past – Managing
the Future
Information: <http://tourismbiennial.
International Conference on Central
Europe and Tourism Competitiveness
Date: September 24–26
Location: Veszprém, Hungary ISTTE (annual conference)
Information: <www.gtk.uni-pannon. Date: October 14–18
hu/tourism.competitiveness> Location: San Antonio TX, USA
Information: International Society of
International Congress on Accessible Travel and Tourism Educators <www.
Date: September 29–October 1
Location: Vienna, Austria NRPA Leisure Research Symposium
Theme: SMEs Delivering Sustainable Date: October 14–18
and Competitive Tourism for All Location: Salt Lake City UT, USA
Information: <www.enatcongress2009. Information: National Recreation and
info/en/doc/enat_welcome> Park Association <>
552 Calendar / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 550–553

International Network of Research into Theme: Beyond the Boundary: Creating

Tourism, Cooperation and Develop- New Epistemologies in Tourism
ment Conference Information: Sherma Roberts <sherma.
Date: October 15–16>
Location: Tarragona, Spain
Information: Damia Serrano <Damia. IATE (biennial conference)
Serrano@CETT.ES> Date: December 11–13
Location: Chang Mai, Thailand
EuroCHRIE (annual conference) Information: International Association
Date: October 22–24 for Tourism Economics <www.iate2009.
Location: Helsinki, Finland org>
Information: European Council on
Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Cross Cultural Research Conference
Education <> Date: December 13–16
Location: Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Nordic Symposium in Tourism and Information: <http://marketing.byu.
Hospitality Research edu/htmlpages/ccrs/ccs.htm>
Date: October 22–25
Location: Esbjerg, Denmark
Theme: Tourism and Hospitality: The
Nordic Way
Information: <
sium2009.aspx?sc_lang=en> ANZALS (biennial conference)
Date: February 2–4
International Conference on Cities as Location: Brisbane, Australia
Creative Spaces for Cultural Tourism Theme: Exploring New Ideas and New
Date: November 19–21 Directions
Location: Istanbul, Turkey Information: Australian and New
Information: <> Zealand Association of Leisure Studies
Asian Academy for Heritage Manage- journal-authors.htm>
ment Conference
Date: December 1–3 CAUTHE (annual conference)
Location: Macau, China Date: February 9–12
Theme: Urban Heritage and Tourism: Location: Tasmania, Australia
Challenges and Opportunities Theme: Tourism and Hospitality: Chal-
Information: < lenge the Limits
aahm2009/themes.htm> Information: Council of Australian
Universities in Tourism and Hospitality
International Conference on Destina- Education <
tion Branding and Marketing 2010Conference.htm>
Date: December 2–4
Location: Macau, China World Conference for Graduate
Information: Dino Couto <dino@ift. Research in Tourism, Hospitality and> Leisure
Date: May 25–30
International Tourism Conference Location: Cappadocia, Turkey
Date: December 8–11 Information: Metin Kozak <M.Kozak@
Location: Bridgetown, Barbados>
Calendar / Annals of Tourism Research 36 (2009) 550–553 553

ISA World Congress of Sociology World Leisure Congress

Date: July 11–17 Date: August 28–September 2
Location: Gothenburg, Sweden Location: Chuncheon, Korea
Theme: Sociology on the Move. The Information: <www.worldleisure2010.
congress offers thematic sessions on org>
Sociology of Leisure and International
Information: International Sociological
Association <