Research Abstract: "Performing tourism: Chinese outbound organized mass tourists on their travels through German tourism stages"
“Performing tourism: Chinese outbound organized mass tourists on
their travels through German tourism stages”
Tourism studies have understood tourism as a “western” phenomenon, which tended to neglect the
presence of “non-Western” tourists and to over-generalise the application and universality of their
theories. By now, tourism is a global phenomenon with growing numbers of “emergent tourists”,
especially from China. The number of Chinese outbound tourists has been growing steadily in the past
decade and, by 2013, has become the number one source market worldwide, both in terms of boarder-
crossings and expenditure. However, its quantitative importance, the touristic performances of this
source market, and especially the organized mass tourists in “western” tourism stages have not yet
been extensively researched.
This research project draws on the dramaturgical metaphor of performance developed by Erving
Goffman (1959), as well as the performance process as theorized by Richard Schechner (2002) in his
writings on Performance Studies to investigate how Chinese outbound organized mass tourists
perform tourism on German stages. The discussion focuses on three elements. Firstly, I examine the
casting and preparation of the performers. Secondly, I explore the performances on German tourist
stages, in respect to roles learned and also highlighting the possibility of improvised performances.
Lastly, I observe the setting of the stages in regard to allowed choreographies, stage direction and
power relations between categories of players.
The research is based on a phenomenological approach, appropriate to this project due to its
ethnographic character. Part of the study’s field research was conducted largely from 2011 to 2012,
both in China and Germany. In China, information was gathered by using open and semi-structured in-
depth expert interviews with ten representatives from the Chinese tourism industry, tourism boards,
as well as with tourism academics. In Germany, the ethnographic fieldwork consisted of participant
observations, semi-structured interviews and short questionnaires to forty Chinese outbound tourist
members of three group package tours organized by Chinese-German travel companies.
Complementary to tourist contributions, is information provided by the groups´ tour guides and tour
leaders during four semi-structured in-depth interview and “on the run” talks. Equally important are
my field notes, diaries, photos and videos. Furthermore, expert interviews are to be conducted with
German industry representatives, experts and academics in the summer of 2013.
This project argues that the examination of tourism practices and behaviours of Chinese outbound
organized mass tourists under the performance metaphor can provide further understandings on the
previously neglected tourism consumption of “non-Western” tourists. It will also further concur with
the recent de-differentiation between the everyday mundane and the extraordinary “other” in tourism
theory, by acknowledging that everyday conventions and habits inform touristic performances of
Chinese tourists in Germany.
PhD Candidate: Alma Berenice Pendzialek, MBA
Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt (KU - Dep. of Tourism Geography)
Research first supervisor: Prof. Dr. Hans Hopfinger (KU)
Second supervisor: Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt (FH-Westkueste, Heide)