Local culture in the context of international tourism : Japanese tourists' perceptions of the culture of Saariselkä and the views of Japanese travel agents
In tourism, cultures are often used as resources to attract tourists. This is because tourism is generated by difference. So that the culture of a tourist destination can be consumed by tourists the culture needs to go through commodification, a process through which part of the culture turns into a product or a service. Knowing how a culture is used for tourism practice is important from the viewpoint of the cultural sustainability of tourism. The present study primarily aims at examining how the local culture is dealt with by the Japanese in Saariselkä through tourism. The study concentrates on how Japanese tourists perceive the local culture during their stay and how the Japanese travel agents construe the experience of the tourists. A qualitative approach was applied in this research in order to understand the views of the Japanese deeply. Interviews were conducted qualitatively to gather the data from participants. For the analysis of data, content analysis was chosen as the analysis method. Using the method, the common themes were identified from the data, with which the author further argued the viewpoints of the interviewees. The results of the analysis indicate that tourists perceive the local culture differently depending on their concept of culture. The tourists, who had an idea that cultures differ due to surrounding environments, were aware of regional cultures within a nation. They related some of their cultural experience to the culture of Saariselkä. The results also revealed that the former kind of tourists are interested in the local culture more than the tourist agents assume. ...
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