Performance and visitors' perception of authenticity in eco-cultural tourism

Tiberghien, G. , Bremner, H. and Milne, S. (2017) Performance and visitors' perception of authenticity in eco-cultural tourism. Tourism Geographies, 19(2), pp. 287-300. (doi: 10.1080/14616688.2017.1285958)

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Abstract

With the increasing commodification of cultural heritage induced by tourism development, the perception of a ‘real’ travel experience often depends on what is defined as authentic, original and local. Visitors are becoming increasingly concerned about the authenticity of eco-cultural tourism practices when they visit culturally and environmentally remote regions. The purpose of this study is to examine the role performance plays in visitors' perception of authenticity of eco-cultural tourism experiences. Various theoretical foundations and aspects of visitors' perceptions of authenticity in cultural heritage tourism are considered. A grounded theory approach based on in-depth semi-structured interviews with several categories of visitors including 25 clients from two eco-tours in South and Central Kazakhstan and 29 Free Independent Travellers (FITs) was adopted to identify visitors' perception of authenticity of various aspects of their tourism experiences and the attributes of the visitors' performative aspects of their travels. Results reveal that the performative aspects contributing to the perceived authenticity of the visitors' eco-cultural experiences are spontaneous, existential and reciprocal relationships with their hosts in intimate tourism encounters. The findings contribute to literature regarding authenticity and cultural heritage tourism by exploring new directions in which to apply the concept of authenticity in eco-cultural tourism experiences and by theorising the link between performance-based touristic space and the perception of authenticity. This space becomes a basis for interaction and social exchange within the host–guest relationship.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Tiberghien, Dr Guillaume
Authors: Tiberghien, G., Bremner, H., and Milne, S.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Interdisciplinary Studies
Journal Name:Tourism Geographies
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:1461-6688
ISSN (Online):1470-1340
Published Online:16 February 2017
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 Taylor & Francis
First Published:First published in Tourism Geographies 19(2):287-300
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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