Research Methods in Tourism: Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches. By Larry Dwyer.

tourists

Photograph: Harald Hoyer (CC By–SA 2.0)

Professor Larry Dwyer examines established and emerging qualitative and quantitative research methods in tourism, offering a summary of his book Handbook Of Research Methods In Tourism: Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches, (Edited by Larry Dwyer, Alison Gill and Neelu Seetaram).

In the last two decades, the application of quantitative and qualitative techniques in the study of the tourism phenomenon has gained momentum. This can be traced back to several factors. The most prominent is perhaps the fact that, as the reliance of destinations on tourism has grown and the industry expanded globally, more resources have been devoted to the collection of quantitative data and the maintenance of tourism data sets. This may have encouraged researchers interested in quantitative data analysis to give higher priority to the tourism industry in their research agenda. At the same time stakeholders of the industry, including destination managers, local and federal governments, keen to make more informed decisions, by devising better policies and evaluating existing are paying more attention to results from quantitative research. The approaches used by tourism researchers are heavily informed by progress in econometrics and statistical analysis across all social science disciplines.

At the same time, qualitative research is a well-established approach to researching phenomena in the social sciences.  Comparatively, its application in the fields of tourism studies and management is a more recent occurrence dating from the late 1970s and 1980s. Increasingly, however, in the early decades of the twenty-first century, qualitative research is gaining broader acceptance within those fields. This acceptance is due to the ability of qualitative research to provide rich, in-depth knowledge from multiple viewpoints along with its emphasis on verstenhen, “empathetic understanding”, especially, with regard to the “how” and “why” of tourism related phenomena and experiences. The discussion makes it clear that our reflexive lenses on tourism phenomena have been heavily founded in western developed world contexts. The application of western centric concepts and dimensions assumes that these are universal and that different cultures and peoples of the world use the same lenses to understand and interpret the world. In the view of many theorists, Western epistemologies are insufficient to support alternate knowledge bases with regard to tourism phenomena. Tourism research needs to incorporate and promote ways of knowing and researching that are not just predicated on western worldviews, embracing multicultural research teams and multicultural studies, which are emically focused and are contextually and temporally situated.

The chapters in Handbook of Research Methods in Tourism: Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches address the most important established and emerging qualitative and quantitative research methods in tourism.The book comprises 25 chapters each devoted to a different research method. Each chapter is structured to provide detailed overview of the nature of the research method, its use in tourism, its advantages and limitations and future directions for research.  All chapter contributors are active researchers in tourism and all have international standing in the discipline. All have published works that use the technique that they write about. The 41 authors are based in 26 universities in 8 countries giving the book a truly international perspective. A bio for each contributor appears at the back of the book.

The question arises: why another book on research methods? Well, for starters, there is no book on the market that structures the material on research methods in the way that the authors have done for this book. All of the authors were required to structure their chapter in the same way. (a) Nature of the technique and its evolution; (b) Background and types of problems that the technique is designed to handle; (c) Applications of the technique to tourism, including discussion of studies that have used the technique and their findings; (d) Advantages and limitations of technique conceptually and for policy formulation; (e) Further developments and applications of the technique in tourism research

This structure makes the contents of each chapter much more informative to the reader, providing a comprehensive discussion of the technique itself as well as its application in tourism and related contexts. The editors are confident that the imposed structure will result in the individual contributions making an important contribution to tourism studies, ensuring that each will be highly informative and widely referenced in the literature. The chapters are constructed in a way that they provide a detailed overview of the different techniques irrespective of their tourism applications. In this way the volume should appeal to social scientists in general and not just to researchers in tourism.

If tourism studies are to be credible and add to our knowledge in this discipline area, researchers must employ methods of analysis that are at the cutting edge of social science research. The progress made in advancing tourism knowledge in recent years, and its increasing relevance to policy formulation, is due in no small part to the use of more sophisticated research methodologies by analysts.

Larry Dwyer PhD is Professor of Travel and Tourism Economics in the School of Marketing, Australian School of Business, at the University of New South Wales, Australia. He publishes widely in the areas of tourism economics, management and policy, with 200 publications in international journals, government reports, books, book chapters, and monographs. He receives many invitations to give keynote addresses at international tourism conferences and workshops worldwide, and has been awarded numerous research grants to contribute to tourism knowledge. He is President of the International Academy for Study of Tourism, the world’s peak academic tourism association. He is also President of the International Association for Tourism Economics. He is an appointed member of the Editorial Boards of twenty one international tourism journals. Larry’s main leisure interests are tennis and swimming.

Handbook Of Research Methods In Tourism: Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches.Edited by Larry Dwyer, Alison Gill and Neelu Seetaram.

Related Article:
Recent Advances in Tourism Economics – by Larry Dwyer

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  1. Elgarblog highlights of 2013 | ELGARBLOG - January 3, 2014

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