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Title: The embodied gazes of young Chinese independent travellers and professional hosts : a performance perspective
Author: Kimber, Simon
ISNI:       0000 0004 7960 9213
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2019
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The development of tourism in China is a relatively recent and rapidly evolving phenomenon This study focusses on one expanding and diversifying group, that of young Chinese independent or self-organised travellers. Despite some initial studies, relatively little is known about this rapidly growing group of travellers, many of whom share the characteristics of both backpackers and independent travellers. Even less is known about the gazes of professional hosts on this emerging group of Chinese tourists. This PhD's consideration of 'gazing' and 'performing', aims to provide new conceptual and empirical understandings into young Chinese independent travellers and professional hosts. Young independent Chinese travellers are increasingly visiting Pai, a small town in northern Thailand, in part influenced by the popularity of the 2009 Thai movie 'Pai in Love'. Drawing upon participant observation and in-depth interviews of Chinese travellers and Thai hosts, the findings reveal that tourist photography is central to Chinese tourism in Pai, with many performances revolving around the creation of online self-identities of prosperity and globalisation, love and alternative social identities. Most host performances were restricted to host-guest service encounters and were often habitual, highly scripted and shaped by cultural values. Gaze wise, many Chinese gazes were shallow and highly influenced by media and cinematic representations of Thailand. In contrast, Thai professional host gazes were often rigorous and penetrating, and for those hosts who had no real meaningful contact with tourists, highly influenced by their corporeal proximity to the embodied actions of Chinese travellers. This is the first study to consider both performing and gazing alongside each other, and along with consideration of affordances, provides new insights into young Chinese tourism consumption, particularly the extent to which it is influenced by social media, online guides and place 'myths'. This study also attempts to challenge some of the ethnocentric basis of tourism theory by seeking to challenge some of the modernist and Western assumptions that still theoretically dominate.
Supervisor: Cohen, Scott ; Kimbu, Albert ; Yang, Jingjing Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral