Author: Xu, Wenqing
Title: Transforming to eudaimonia via sparking journeys : an embodied approach
Advisors: Li, Mimi (SHTM)
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2023
Subject: Tourism -- Psychological aspects
Tourists -- Psychology
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: School of Hotel and Tourism Management
Pages: 178 pages : color illustrations
Language: English
Abstract: Tourism has long been regarded as an avenue for promoting human health and well-being. Millions of people travel across borders annually in search of pleasure and happiness. However, contemporary visitors are no longer satisfied with just enjoying the “beach and sunshine.” As a result, transformative tourism, which is highly associated with personal growth, has recently gained much attention. Despite the inherence of individual transformation in eudaimonic well­-being, the link between transformative tourism and tourist well-being remains underexplored. A critical review of the literature reveals that only a few scholars have attempted to understand human well-being in the transformative travel context despite the complex and nuanced nature of personal transformation. Specifically, very few studies have investigated transformative tourists as subject individuals or their traveling experiences within an embodied and emplaced framework. Thus, deeper insights into the well-being of tourists during their transformative trips are needed.
This study aims to understand how tourists’ well-being is framed by embodied transformative experiences. The key research questions include 1) what is the embodied experience for transformative tourists; 2) how do their experiences change their attitudes or views toward well-being; and 3) how can transformative tourism alter individuals’ way of living?
This study employs qualitative research methods to answer the above questions. Specifically, this study adopts interpretative phenomenology analysis (IPA), a multi-method approach that includes verbal (interview), textual (participant fieldnotes), and visual (photos) data. In-depth interviews and participant observations are also conducted to trace the route of changes among individual tourists and gain deep insights into their embodied experience. To ensure that the selected experiences and tourists are indeed transformative, a specific set of selection criteria is developed based on the literature. Aligned with the key tenet of IPA, this study also follows the evaluation guide provided by Smith (2011) to collect, code, and analyze the data.
Transformative travel experiences involve attaining existential authenticity through tangible experiences, bodily sensations, emotional responses, and self-reflection. During their journeys, tourists communicate and interact with their surrounding environment and people, thus enabling them to perceive their outside world and engage in self-reflection.
Through transformative travel, individuals construct their own interpretations of the world and themselves. They reconfigure their attitudes, worldviews, and values and gain a new understanding of well-being. Transformative travel includes achieving life balance, inner peace, a sense of empowerment, and courage, among other aspects. While the pursuit of happiness often incorporates elements of self-realization, Chinese transformative tourists, who are influenced by both traditional Chinese culture and Western values of individual fulfillment, seek to strike a balance between hedonism and eudaimonism. They prioritize tranquility, mental order, and inner strength throughout their transformative journeys.
The contribution of this study extends beyond the context of China by shedding light on the impact of transformative tourism experiences on cognitive aspects, such as values and worldviews, and their positive effects on individual psychological well-being. This study also expands the research on the transformation of tourists’ happiness, hence offering valuable insights that can broaden the present understanding of transformative travel experiences.
Rights: All rights reserved
Access: open access

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