Experience and benefits derived from a dark tourism site visit: the effect of demographics and enduring involvement

Eun Jung Kang (2010). Experience and benefits derived from a dark tourism site visit: the effect of demographics and enduring involvement PhD Thesis, School of Tourism, The University of Queensland.

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Author Eun Jung Kang
Thesis Title Experience and benefits derived from a dark tourism site visit: the effect of demographics and enduring involvement
School, Centre or Institute School of Tourism
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2010-08
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Dr. Noel Scott
Dr. Timothy Lee
Professor Roy Ballantyne
Total pages 247
Total colour pages 19
Total black and white pages 228
Subjects 15 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services
Abstract/Summary Abstract Dark tourism has been recognised as a distinctive tourism phenomenon of the twenty-first century, with increasingly significant numbers of visitors and tourists going to dark tourism attractions and sites, new dark tourism products and attractions emerging, and modern global communication media generating interest in dark tourism attractions, while at the same time affecting the image of destinations. The phenomenon of dark tourism has been examined in academia from the mid-1990s; however, it remains one of the less developed areas of tourism and leisure research. Not surprisingly, knowledge of the experiences of visitors and tourists at dark tourism attractions and sites is both theoretically fragile and limited. In redressing this omission in tourism and leisure research, this study examines the effect of enduring involvement and socio-demographic variables on visitor experiences and benefits gained at a contemporary dark tourism site. The focus of the study is the April 3rd Peace Park on Jeju Island, South Korea, a site commemorating and memorialising one of the most destructive episodes in modern Korean history. In doing so, the study developed a theoretical framework for understanding visitor experiences at dark tourism sites, using a benefits-based approach along with the concept of enduring involvement. This approach provides a framework for comprehending visitors’ dark tourism experiences by identifying reasons for visit, on-site experiences, and benefits gained from these experiences. Enduring involvement is applied to investigate the effect of a visitor’s ‘personal connection’ to the tragic event when it comes to their experiences at the site. The April 3rd Peace Park on Jeju Island commemorates a violent political conflict, which began on April 3rd in 1948, and resulted in 30,000 of the inhabitants dead or missing. The park was inaugurated in 2008 for the purposes of education, commemoration, and reconciliation within the Jeju community, in which the family and relatives of both victims and perpetrators still live. The research employs qualitative and quantitative research methods to explore visitor experiences. In its qualitative component, 46 semi-structured interviews were conducted between September and October 2008 in order to identify reasons for visit, the cognitive and affective on-site experiences of visitors and the benefits gained from their visit. This data was utilised in the construction of a site-specific questionnaire. In the quantitative component, self-administered questionnaires and face-to-face interviews were conducted from June 23 to July 31, 2009. A total of 407 valid questionnaires, out of 450 distributed, were utilised to test 16 hypotheses derived from the theoretical framework. The results indicate that a benefits-based approach was effective in exploring visitors’ dark tourism experiences. With this approach, a sense of obligation or personal duty was identified as one of the key reasons for visiting the site. Emotional experiences were also found to be important, and likely to lead to the visitors’ benefits gained. However, results also indicate a benefits-based approach was not effective for segmentation of visitors. In relation to enduring involvement, visitor experiences and benefits gained from experiencing the site and its history were found to differ significantly based on visitors’ level of enduring involvement. High involvement visitors were more likely to recall actual memories of the April 3rd incident, as opposed to acquiring knowledge of it or related issues at the site itself, in stark contrast with low involvement visitors. These differences in visitor experiences and benefits gained were due therefore to visitors’ prior knowledge of and familiarity with the incident. The results of the study also indicate that high involvement visitors are more likely to be elderly, to reside locally, to be connected to the incident, or to have higher levels of education. Low involvement visitors on the other hand are more likely to be young, non-local, and with generally lower levels of education. The study concludes that an effective way of understanding dark tourism experiences from a theoretical perspective is to apply both a benefits-based approach and the concept of enduring involvement.
Keyword Dark tourism
Visitor study
Additional Notes 19, 79, 85, 115, 116, 126-128, 136, 141, 151, 168, 205-206, 208, 211, 213-214, 247 Lanscape:240-242

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Created: Tue, 24 Aug 2010, 14:39:46 EST by Ms Eun Jung Kang on behalf of Library - Information Access Service