|dc.description.abstract||This study lays out a solid foundation for research on wellbeing in the tourism context by answering two primary questions – how, and in what way, does tourism promote wellbeing? Second, to what extent does wellbeing change after a tourist experience?
To answer the first question, this study draws on existential authenticity theory that suggests tourism enables people to live authentically, and thereby allows for optimal tourist experiences. This study also refers to eudaimonism theory that indicates wellbeing is attained through being authentic in oneself and that experiencing optimal functioning in specific activities further facilitates wellbeing. By integrating these two theories, this study argues that existential authenticity facilitates wellbeing through optimal tourist experiences. To examine this premise, this study examined the mediating effect of optimal tourist experiences in the relationship between existential authenticity and wellbeing.
To answer the second question concerning the sustained effect of the tourist experience on wellbeing, three sub-questions are posed that existing longitudinal studies have failed to adequately address: (1) what’s the trajectory of wellbeing change after a tourist experience? (2) does the tourist experience predict the change of wellbeing after tourism? and (3) is there a difference in feelings of hedonic and eudaimonic wellbeing in the change after a tourist experience? This study set out to address these questions by adopting a longitudinal survey design involving three waves over several months during which participants completed self-administered questionnaires concerning their tourist experience and both hedonic and eudaimonic wellbeing.
The three waves of data collection were administered from September 2018 to February 2019 in China, with 228 participants recruited for the first survey during their tourist experience. A total of 211 participants remained in the second survey conducted four weeks after their tourist experience, and 208 remained in the third survey conducted eight weeks after their tourist experience. Along with some demographics and trip characteristics, the initial survey measured existential authenticity based on the three core concepts of Authentic Living, Accepting External Influence, and Self-Alienation, and assessed the optimal tourist experiences based on Positive Emotions, Sense of Meaning in Life, Sense of Growth, Sense of Engagement, and Sense of Positive Relations. Hedonic wellbeing was measured based on participants’ Positive Emotions, Negative Emotions, and Life Satisfaction; and their eudaimonic wellbeing was measured based on the concept of Flourishing. Mediation analyses were conducted using SPSS to answer the first research question and Latent Growth Curve modeling in AMOS was used to assess change in wellbeing after a tourist experience to answer the second set of questions.
The mediation analysis suggested that most optimal tourist experiences mediate the relationships of Authentic Living to Positive Emotions, Negative Emotions, Life Satisfaction, and Flourishing. The Accepting External Influence was not significantly related to either hedonic or eudaimonic wellbeing. Most optimal tourist experiences mediate the relationships of Self-Alienation to Positive Emotions, Negative Emotions, and Flourishing, but Self-Alienation was not related to the Life Satisfaction.
The Latent Growth Curve modeling analysis suggested that the Positive Emotions declined dramatically in the first month following a tourist experience and then marginally again in the second month. The decline in Positive Emotions was slower for people who reported higher levels of optimal tourist experiences. Negative Emotions increased dramatically in the first month after a tourist experience and then marginally in the second month, and the change was very similar across all individuals. Life Satisfaction (hedonic wellbeing) neither declined nor increased significantly in the two months following a tourist experience, and its change was not significantly different across individuals. Flourishing (eudaimonic wellbeing) declined gradually and marginally over the same two-time intervals, and the decline was slower for people who reported higher levels of optimal tourist experiences.
Drawing on existing evidence and the results of this study, the premise arising from linking existential authenticity theory and eudaimonism theory was supported; that is, tourism enables people to live more authentically during tourism, which promotes optimal tourist experiences and experiences of optimal functioning in tourism, and ultimately, these conditions lead to higher levels of wellbeing. Further, gains in hedonic wellbeing fade dramatically in the first month following a tourist experience, whereas eudaimonic wellbeing fades more gradually and marginally in the two months following a tourist experience. Thus, the effect of tourism on eudaimonic wellbeing is more stable over time than the effect on hedonic wellbeing. This study also concludes that when tourist experiences are more optimal, they can slow the decline in wellbeing over time. The theoretical, methodological, and practical implications of these findings are discussed, as well as study limitations and suggestions for future research.||en