DOI: 10.1177/003803857901300203 ISSN:

A Phenomenology of Tourist Experiences

Erik Cohen
  • Sociology and Political Science

Contemporary studies of tourism see the tourist experience as either something essentially spurious and superficial, an extension of an alienated world, or as a serious search for authenticity, an effort to escape from an alienated world. It is argued that neither of these views is universally valid. A more discriminating distinction between five types of tourist experiences is proposed, based on the place and significance of tourist experience in the total world-view of tourists, their relationship to a perceived `centre' and the location of that centre in relation to the society in which the tourist lives. It is proposed that the resulting continuum of types of tourist experience is both more comprehensive than alternative conceptual frameworks and capable of reconciling and integrating the conflicting interpretations arising from earlier studies.