Beyond the tourist experience: Analyzing the imagination of place and travel in everyday life

Stijn Reijnders*, Balazs Boross, Victoria Balan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

This article advocates a new agenda for (media) tourism research that links questions of tourist experiences to the role and meaning of imagination in everyday life. Based on a small-scale, qualitative study among a group of 17 respondents of diverse ages and backgrounds currently residing in the Netherlands, we offer an empirical exploration of the places that are of importance for people’s individual state of mind and investigate how these places relate to (potential) tourist experiences. The combination of in-depth interviews and random-cue self-reporting resulted in the following findings: 1) all our respondents regularly reside in an elaborate imaginary world, consisting of both fictional and nonfictional places; 2) this imaginary world is dominated by places that make the respondents feel nostalgic; 3) in this regard, the private home and houses from childhood are pivotal; 4) the “home” is seen as topos of the self and contrasted with “away”; 5) the imagination of “away” emerges from memories of previous tourist experiences, personal fantasies, and, last but not least, influences from popular culture. We conclude that imagining and visiting other locations are part of a life-long project of “identity work” in which personal identities are performed, confirmed and extended. By traveling, either physically or mentally, individuals anchor their identity—the entirety of ideas about who they are, where they come from, and where they think they belong—in a broader, spatial framework.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-44
Number of pages14
JournalTourism, Culture and Communication
Volume22
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 9 Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC; Fig. 1) under the

Funding Information:
This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC; Fig. 1) under the European Union’s (Fig. 2) Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No. 681663). We would like to thank our 17 respondents for sharing their experiences with us.

Funding Information:
European Union’s (Fig. 2) Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No. 681663). We would like to thank our 17 respondents for sharing their experiences with us.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Cognizant, LLC.

Research programs

  • ESHCC A&CS

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