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M. Gallarza, I. Gil-Saura

Universidad de Valéncia (SPAIN)
Aims and scope:
Conceptual shortcomings have been denounced in tourism academic literature consistently across years (e.g. Leiper, 1979; Smith, 1988; Xin et al. 2013). This is a severe issue, taking into consideration the development of tourism as a business. Consequently, teaching tourism is also demanding solid conceptual frameworks, but able to adapt to the changing nature of the contemporary tourist (Airey et al. 2015) where more conceptual and qualitative research is provided to avoid “applying scientific rigor in an intellectual vacuum” (Walle (1997a:525). Paradigmatically (and paradoxically), these “intellectual vacuum” has been sharper when trying to define the word “tourist”: defining the status of tourist as a consumer is not an easy task because we can find “a myriad of definitions competing amongst them” (Smith, 1995:39).
The aim of this paper is to make students (from the subject “consumer Behavior” in a Tourism Master program at Universidad de Valencia, Spain) real participants of this serious discussion by experimenting, as potential researchers, the difficulty of defining an elusive concept as “tourism/tourist”.

The paper, after a conceptual framework on conceptual boundaries of tourism and on the use of qualitative techniques in tourism research, reports the scope, method and results of an in-class exercise. Students are given first a conceptual framework in class related to the conceptual boundaries of tourism, and then are asked to do the following practice:
• Form groups of 3 students: (different genders and nationalities)
• Look for 6 definitions of the Word “Tourist” and/or “tourism” among the books provided by the teacher (exact quoting) and the INTERNET
• Analyze common elements and contrast them with the previous theoretical frameworks
• Provide your own definition and share it with the class for peer evaluation

Expected results:
The outcome of this exercise will be to make tourism Master Students understand (and experiment) how, in spite of the numerous efforts of conceptualizing the tourist, a true consensus of what can and cannot be considered tourism, has still not been realized. Consequently, the comments and purposive discussion of the results of the exercise will like to contribute to the contemporary discussion on the matter of tourism as experience of consumption and thus benefit from a wider disciplinary approach that can result in richer conceptualizations of what a tourist is.

[1] Airey, D., Tribe, J., Benckendorff, P., & Xiao, H. (2015). The managerial gaze: The long tail of tourism education and research. Journal of Travel Research, 54(2), 139-151.
[2] Leiper, N. (1979). “The Framework or Tourism. Towards a Definition of Tourism, Tourist, and the Tourist Industry”, Annals of Tourism Research, Vol. 6(4), pp.390-407.
[3] Smith, S.L.J. (1988). “Defining tourism. A suply-side view”, Annals of Tourism Research, Vol. 15, pp. 179-190.
[4] Smith, S.L.J. (1995). Tourism Analysis: a Handbook (2nd edition), Longman, Essex.
[5] Walle A.H. (1997a). “Quantitative versus qualitative tourism research”, Annals of Tourism Research, Vol. 24(3), pp. 524-536.
[6] Xin, S., Tribe, J., & Chambers, D. (2013). Conceptual research in tourism. Annals of Tourism Research, 41, 66-88.