China as an International Travel Destination: A Corpus-based Analysis of Online Travel Blogs

Valeria Franceschi

Abstract


User-generated content in tourism has increasingly become an important source of data for multiple aspects of tourism research, including destination image, electronic Word-of-Mouth (eWoM), and destination marketing. Such online material as travel blogs, guides, video blogs and reviews may influence readers and prospective visitors, shaping their gaze on the destination and informing their travel choices. User-generated travel blogs and guides indeed provide a combination of knowledge and information as well as emotions, and are often deemed more reliable than professionally-produced tourist materials. This paper aims at investigating the tourist gaze on China and its population as emerging from travel blogs and travel guides produced by non-professional internet users. Specifically, it wants to determine how popular Chinese destinations and local people are perceived through the eyes of international tourists. To this purpose, a corpus of blogs on travel and life in China was compiled using the text mining software BootCat and then analyzed with the Sketch Engine corpus analysis tool. A quantitative and qualitative mixed method approach was adopted for this study, analyzing keywords and collocational profiles in addition to carrying out content analysis on concordance samples to shed light on how visitors gaze upon major Chinese destinations. Results indicate that visitors have an overall positive perception of China and its people but describe the country in contrasting terms, as seen in previous studies on this destination. Tourists appear to look for elements signifying authenticity, such as historical heritage sites and locals engaging in stereotypical activities.


Keywords


tourism discourse; collocation analysis; content analysis; tourist gaze; tourism in China

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.13136/2281-4582/2021.i18.1038

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