Understanding Chinese post-80s' outbound adventure tourism experience

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Over the last decade, the Chinese Post-80s (born between 1980-1995) generation has gradually become the major driving force of Chinese outbound tourism. While there has been a major expansion of interest in China tourism research, very little of this literature has focused on the cohort of Post-80s travelers and their outbound experiences. Underpinned by generational cohort theory, this PhD research investigates Chinese Post-80s tourists’, adventure tourism experiences in culturally distant destinations. In particular, it aims to explore the ways Chinese Post-80s tourists’ adventure experiences are linked to social practices in China. The research design incorporates a netnography approach to undertake a qualitative examination of Chinese Post-80s tourists’ adventure tourism experience in Australia and New Zealand through their online travel blogs. The reason for choosing Chinese Post-80s’ travel blogs is that they provide a source of deep insights into their outbound adventure travel experiences, acting as a mirror of themselves and their identities. Twenty-nine Chinese Post-80s travel blogs were selected through a series of qualifying conditions. A ‘critical discourse analysis’ was undertaken to analyze the twenty-nine blogs. Three key themes emerged from the analysis (1) task engagement, (2) group dynamics and (3) settings. Task engagement deals with Chinese Post-80s’ efforts and attention associated with adventure tourism activities. This includes the task’s challenges and self-efficacy of the participants. Group dynamics is concerned with Chinese Post-80s’ interaction with others in a group environment, including interaction with staff, other tourists and their own group members. Settings refer to physical and humanized surroundings where adventure tourism takes place, including Chinese Post-80s’ interaction with nature, their personal attachment to nature and artistic conception. While each theme is distinctive, they are inter-related. More importantly, this research reveals that while the blog representation of Chinese Post-80s on their adventure tourism experiences is situated in the tourism discourse, it is inevitably connected to wider social practices in China – where they grew up, and now live and will be part of the future of China’s rapid transformation. Theoretically, the study contributes to a richer and deeper understanding of Chinese Post-80s as a generational cohort and extends generational cohort theory from a relationship perspective. On a practical level, the study informs the strategic and practical guidance for tour operators and destination management and marketing organizations. It is proposed that the findings of this research will assist these organizations to have a better understanding of Chinese Post-80s tourists such that they may better design culturally relevant adventure tourism products and the strategies to market them.
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