|Title:||Travel motivations, benefits and characteristics of meditation tourism in Thailand : the international tourist perspective|
|Subject:||Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations|
Tourism -- Thailand
Tourism -- Religious aspects
|Department:||School of Hotel and Tourism Management|
|Pages:||xii, 298 pages : illustrations|
|Abstract:||The development of meditation retreats as tourism venues has recently gained attention globally, as meditation has shifted from a primarily religious practice to a more worldwide secular practice. The recent trend of tourists seeking solace in Eastern philosophies and therapies including Buddhist meditation is set to continue to increase. Participation in these practices has been motivated by a desire to cultivate the mind, release stress, engage in self-exploration or to promote health and well-being. There has been a great deal of discussion on spiritual tourism and health and wellness tourism; however, the subsector of meditation tourism has received little attention in this context, and scant empirical research has been conducted on this trend. Thus, this study attempts to address this knowledge gap by empirical studies of meditation retreats in Thailand. The four main objectives of the study were 1) to identify the travel motives of meditation tourists; 2) to investigate the perceptions of benefits from participating in meditation retreats during a holiday; 3) to understand the characteristics of meditation tourism; and 4) to provide recommendations for further improvement of this tourism niche. To achieve the research objectives, this study adopted a mixed-methods approach including observation, interviews and questionnaire surveys, mixing quantitative and qualitative methods in order to provide a multifaceted understanding by examining the research questions from different perspectives through different methodological approaches. This study targeted only international tourists who took part in meditation retreats at international meditation centres in Thailand. To facilitate data analysis, this study utilised two specialised computer programs; QDA Miner 5 for qualitative analysis and SPSS for a quantitative analysis, to enhance consistency. The analysis identified three pillars of meditation tourist motivations: 'mind revival and self-connectedness', 'stress release and relaxation' and 'knowledge and cultural seeking'. The study affirmed the relevance of some well-established general destination attributes of Thailand and also revealed some specific attributes related to meditation retreats. Perceived benefits received from meditation retreats were found to relate to the body (physiological well-being), the mind (psychological well-being) as well as the spirit (spiritual well-being). Further, characteristics of meditation tourism were identified and discussed in terms of product features and a typology of meditation tourist: the incidental meditation tourist (IMT), the purposeful meditation tourist (PMT) and the casual meditation tourist (CMT). This study also provides recommendations to meditation centres and national tourism organisations for the development of meditation tourism. In sum, the results of this study provide knowledge to better understand this tourism field as well as articulating the implications of this knowledge for the strategic planning of this tourism niche in Thailand.|
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