Factors Affecting the Impact of Tourism on Attitude Change: A Qualitative Research

Factors Affecting the Impact of Tourism on Attitude Change: A Qualitative Research

Sedat Çelik (Şırnak University, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-5053-3.ch014
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Tourism plays a vital role in getting to know and understand each other. In this regard, the main purpose of this research chapter is to understand the relationship between tourism and attitude change and the factors affecting this relationship. Firstly, the role of tourism in changing attitudes is discussed within the framework of Allport's Contact Hypothesis, and then qualitative research results are given. The phenomenology research design was used in the research, and the interview method was preferred in obtaining data. Six open-ended questions were asked to 12 tourists, who came to Şırnak, determined by the purposeful sampling method, with a semi-structured interview form. The answers given by the participants were determined by the descriptive analysis method. The research reveals that tourism is critical in eliminating problems between societies, opening social communication channels, reducing prejudices, and making existing attitudes more positive.
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The tourism sector, which is developing day by day, has become a very important phenomenon for both politicians and researchers due to its economic returns. However, the social-psychological effects of tourism are not taken into consideration. The main purpose of this research is to reveal the relationship between tourism and attitude change in terms of the social-psychological effects of tourism. As a matter of fact, the negative attitudes (prejudice, hostility, discrimination, etc.) that exist among societies in today’s world constitute an important obstacle for societies in terms of understanding each other. The major difficulty in overcoming this obstacle is the inability to meet a common denominator and prejudices (Ruesch, 2011). Ellis (2006) emphasises that there must be a level of communication to reduce inter-communal conflicts. On the other hand, Allport (1954) introduces the “Intergroup Contact Hypothesis” for reducing hostilities and prejudices among societies. According to Allport, when people interact, they break communication barriers and begin to get to know each other. Therefore, prejudices and hostilities can be diminished by this activity (Allport, 1954). From this point of view, “tourism” is one of the most important tools that can provide social interaction (Gamper, 1981).

Tourism allows people to see and recognise the similarities and differences of each other in different cultures. This can increase interaction and reduce prejudice. Tourism reveals an important and very strong ground where different societies and cultures can come together and contact with people of their destination. In this respect, most of the studies have been done by using an attitude scale with applying quantitative research (Milman et al., 1990; Pizam et al., 2002; Sirakaya-Turk et al., 2014). Also, many studies (Amir & Ben-Ari, 1985; Anastasopoulos, 1992; Pettigrew, 1979; Çelik, 2019b) demonstrates that tourism has important effects on changing attitudes as positive or negative ways. The question then arises: What are the factors causing this change? The number of applied studies that can answer this question is quite limited. To find appropriate answers to this question, the more qualitative research analysis is needed to be applied. However, the depth analysis with applying qualitative research method for the points of what factors effects this change has also remained limited. Therefore, this study aims to clarify these points by conducting a qualitative research method.

For this research, selected domestic tourists who came to the province of Sırnak which is the Southeastern Anatolia Region of Turkey, and applied a qualitative research method to analyse the effects of tourism on attitudes change by author. By using the phenomenology pattern, the tourist experiences were analysed in-depth, and it is expected to reveal the causes of tourism-attitude change between the lines. Besides, interviews were applied to local tourists who came to Şırnak province. In these interviews, the thoughts on the differences between the attitudes of the tourists before and after the visit, the reaction of their close circles (relatives, friends, etc.) when coming to Sirnak, the level of contact with the local people, and the satisfaction levels and the relationship of tourism attitude change were discussed. This study is expected to contribute to the literature since the relationship between attitude change in the study of tourism has remained limited in terms of a social psychological context. The results found in this study present some substantial data to private and public officials in the tourism sectors. It can also contribute to the awareness of decision-makers and tourism stakeholders on the social-psychological effects of tourism on society.

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