The role of diaspora tourism in affecting the diasporic individuals in place attachment : a study of Chinese diaspora in North America

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The role of diaspora tourism in affecting the diasporic individuals in place attachment : a study of Chinese diaspora in North America


Author: Li, Ting Ting
Title: The role of diaspora tourism in affecting the diasporic individuals in place attachment : a study of Chinese diaspora in North America
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2015
Subject: Tourism -- Social aspects.
Travelers -- Attitudes.
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: School of Hotel and Tourism Management
Pages: xviii, 313 pages : illustrations ; 30 cm
Language: English
InnoPac Record:
Abstract: A small but growing number of studies have examined the tourism by diasporic groups. The literature on migration and tourism provides a foundation for understanding diasporic groups and the reasons for their movements. However, a critical review of the literature indicates that despite the complexity and highly nuanced nature of diaspora tourism, the current research rarely looks beyond the tourism literature for deeper insights into the diasporic context. In particular, very few studies have attempted to examine diaspora tourists as individuals, or to understand their return travel within a multi-dimensional framework. Moreover, several important themes seem to be missing from the overall investigation of diaspora tourism, such as diasporic individuals’ family migration backgrounds, their senses of place and cultural identity, which have seldom been examined together with diaspora tourism under a continuum framework. Diaspora tourism may have varied effects on diasporic individuals, as recent migrants and distant diasporic members can have completely different perceptions of their sense of place before and after their return visits. Therefore, there is an urgent need to conduct a study focusing on these important themes and examine how diaspora tourism influences diasporic individuals, to gain an in-depth understanding of diaspora tourists and their sense of place. The key research question in this study is whether diasporic tourists' return visits affect their place attachments. The main purposes of this research, therefore, are to explore the role of return visits in shaping diasporic individuals' place attachments, identify the significant factors influencing diasporic place attachments, and develop a theoretical framework to achieve an in-depth understanding of the continuum of diaspora tourism and travel behaviors of diaspora tourists. Both qualitative and quantitative research methods were used in this study. The qualitative methods were chosen to identify the major themes and factors involved in diaspora tourism, and the results achieved were further tested using a larger sample group through quantitative methods. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 46 Chinese Americans and Chinese Canadians with return visit experiences in mainland China to gain an in-depth understanding of their return experiences and any changes in their post-return place attachments. Then, a questionnaire survey comprising sections on migration history, place attachment, personal identity, return visit, and social-demographic information was conducted online and through fieldwork. 207 complete and valid questionnaires were used for further quantitative data analysis. The qualitative content analysis was adopted to analyze the in-depth interview data. An analysis of variance (ANOVA) was conducted to analyze the questionnaire data. Methodological triangulation based on multiple data sources and two main research methods was used to achieve data validation and verification.
In the early stage of qualitative data analysis, eight groups of Chinese diaspora tourists were classified according to their cultural identities and changes in place attachments. By subsequent consolidation, five types of diaspora tourists were identified through the most common themes, namely 1) re-affirmative diaspora tourist; 2) quest diaspora tourist; 3) re-connected diaspora tourist; 4) distanced diaspora tourist; and 5) detached diaspora tourist. These five types of diaspora tourists were identified by the patterns in their place attachment changes and common features of migration history, cultural identity, and original sense of place. More importantly, a series of factors were identified influencing diaspora tourists' sense of place, such as their migration reasons and forms, strength of Chineseness, pre-trip place attachment, partnership, and so forth. In some cases, a single factor plays a significant role in diaspora tourists’ post-return place attachments, whereas in others, numerous factors were found to contribute to changes in place attachments. These findings indicate the multi-dimensionality of diaspora tourism. The return of diasporic individuals can be understood in a continuum of time and place, in relation to diasporic members' migration histories, trip motivations and experiences, cultural identities, and pre-and post-trip place attachments. The five identified types of Chinese diaspora tourists reflect significant differences in the inputs and outcomes of their return visits, which further confirms the complexity of the diaspora tourism phenomenon. As such, this study contributes to the literature in several ways. First, a dynamic perspective from which to examine diaspora tourism is suggested by integrating the literature on migration, cultural identity, and place attachment. Second, findings of this research suggest that diaspora tourists are heterogeneous and can be categorized to five types according to their cultural identities and changes of place attachment. Third, motives of diasporic travel varied significantly among five types of diaspora tourists, from quite deep ones (e.g. the quest and the reconnected diaspora tourists) to quite shallow ones (e.g. the distanced diaspora tourist). Fourth, return experiences of the five types of diaspora tourists are different from increasing their place attachment to China (e.g. the re-affirmative, the quest and the reconnected diaspora tourists), no significant change of place attachment (e.g. the distanced diaspora tourist), to decreasing place attachment to China (e.g. the detached diaspora tourists). Fifth, the present research examines the case of the Chinese diaspora in Canada and the United States. The significant findings of this study can provide valuable insights to the other ethnic minorities and their return visits.

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