Title: Etic interpreting of emic reports of tourism behaviour: cross-cultural introspections of Hawaii

Authors: Drew Martin; Ajay Aluri

Addresses: College of Business and Economics, University of Hawaii at Hilo, 200 West Kawili Street, Hilo, HI 96720, USA ' Department of Management, College of Business and Economics, West Virginia University, P.O. Box 6025, Morgantown, WV 26506-6025, USA

Abstract: This study uses netnography to examine how foreign visitors interpret the places, people, and situations that they experience while visiting Honolulu, Hawaii. Stories offering emic interpretations about destination experiences support McKee's (2003) proposition that 'inciting incidents' throwing life out-of-balance serve as powerful stories. Travel blog reports from tourists visiting Hawaii from Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Germany demonstrate surprisingly similar cases of psychological imbalance experienced by foreign visitors. Heider's (1958) balance theory in maps helps understand first-person reports that visitors communicate about themselves and interpretations about emic self-reports of own travel experiences. Etic interpretations further explain immediate and downstream positive and negative associations of concepts, events, and outcomes in visitors' stories. The study's findings suggest foreign visitors have common expectations. These findings may help practitioners to design services that travellers highly value. The study shows how cultural distance affects travellers' interpretations of their own experiences.

Keywords: netnography; international tourism; travel blogs; unconscious thought; Hawaii; etic interpretations; emic reports; tourist behaviour; cross-cultural introspection; foreign visitors; destination experiences; tourism destinations; psychological imbalance; travel experiences; cultural distance; tourism services; service design.

DOI: 10.1504/IJTA.2015.067641

International Journal of Tourism Anthropology, 2015 Vol.4 No.1, pp.46 - 66

Received: 05 Jun 2014
Accepted: 05 Jun 2014

Published online: 17 Feb 2015 *

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