TROPICAL GEOGRAPHY ›› 2019, Vol. 39 ›› Issue (3): 430-439.doi: 10.13284/j.cnki.rddl.003134

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Construction of Tourist’ Emotional Experience in the On-site Stage: Theoretical Model and Empirical Investigation

Sun Xiaolong1, Gao Jie2, Lin Bishu3 and Li Lei4   

  1. (1. School of International Tourism & Culture, Guizhou Normal University, Guiyang 550025, China; 2. School of Tourism and Culture, Guizhou Education University, Guiyang 550018, China; 3. School of Management, Xiamen University, Xiamen 361005, China; 4. School of Geography and Tourism, Anhui Normal University, Wuhu 241000, China)
  • Received:2019-01-24 Revised:2019-05-16 Online:2019-05-05 Published:2019-05-05


The on-site stage is important for tourists’ emotional experience; “integrity” of the tourism experience depends on the congruence and efficient operation of experiential elements. Currently, there is an incomplete understanding of the “essence” of tourists’ experience, and a research gap in understanding the implicit characteristics of tourists’ experiences remains. Based on the theory of social constructivism, this study analyzes the theoretical framework of tourists’ emotional experience construction in the on-site stage and proposes two direct factors that influence emotional experience construction. The theoretical framework is tested, and the interaction between various construction elements is analyzed by Structural Equation Modeling (SEM). Research reveals that the physical and social situations are two conceptual elements that comprise both tourists' actual and theoretical emotional experience in the on-site stage. Short-term contact between the individual and the destination leads to the realization of the tourism experience, and its essence is the emotional interaction between the human and the physical situation. The emotional interaction between tourists and local residents, traveling peers, and even scenic service staff can directly affect the degree of emotional experience. Sense of place and relationship commitment are direct factors that construct tourists' emotional experience in the on-site stage. Place identity and dependence positively influence tourists’ emotional experience from both emotional and functional perspectives. Tourists' emotional experiences in the on-site stage are primarily borne from place dependence-that is, the individual's bodily experience at the destination is the first point of the tourist experience. Place identity affects emotional experience through the “human-human social relationship” approach. This paper develops the scale of relationship commitment in the context of tourism experience. Relationship commitment refers to the emotional engagement that tourists actively experience with others that yields a positive experience. As a latent construct of the second-order structure, relationship commitment is composed of the emotional connection between the tourists with peers and local residents. In addition to directly influencing the emotional experience, relationship commitment also mediates the influence of sense of place on emotional experience. Compared with emotional connections with local residents, the emotional connection between tourists and their peers can influence the tourists’ perception of relationship commitment more strongly, which in turn affects the construction of emotional experience. Therefore, the emotional interaction between tourists and their peers is the core of the emotional experience construction. Finally, the article suggests several avenues for improving tourists’ emotional experience in national cultural scenic destinations: strengthening the display of the national cultural characteristics of tourism destinations, strengthening the influence of tourists’ bodily experiences on the meaning of tourism destinations, enhancing the community residents’ affinity for tourism, and establishing a good social interaction environment.

Key words: on-site stage, emotional experience, construction, sense of place, relationship commitment