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Skip to 0 minutes and 24 seconds So, I’ve been doing research on social tourism issues for the last fifteen years at least. So, I’ve done a lot of research with social tourism users. A lot of that research has been focused on the benefits that derived from social tourism activities, but also the needs, Understanding the needs of social tourism users. The majority of the research that I’ve done on social tourism has been with a charity in the UK called the Family Holiday Association. This charity has been in existence since 1974, and it exists solely to provide support for low income families to have a well-deserved holiday. They believe that children are at the heart of all that they do.

Skip to 1 minute and 8 seconds So, they’re working with low income families where children’s experiences are constrained in tourism activities. So first of all, what I’d like to talk to you about is some research that we did back in 2009. This is evaluating the needs and outcomes of holidays for these low-income families. And it really is based on the stated needs for a holiday and perceived benefits by applications to three charities, the Family Holiday Association, the Youth Hostel Association, and Unison Welfare, which is a worker’s union in the UK. So, what we did was looked at application forms. So, if people are in low incomes and they want a holiday and they can’t afford a holiday, they can apply to the charity to take one.

Skip to 1 minute and 57 seconds So, they have to fill in an application form. So, we looked at the types of needs that were identified by these groups and then we characterize them as five different types to practical help. They needed practical experience. They were physical and environmental issues. So, they were often living in densely crowded urban areas, and they couldn’t have a way of getting out of those areas to be able to enjoy some time away from home. And then they were relational-social issues. So maybe they were family breakdown or there was some upset stress cause between family relationships. And then there were health individual problems, a lot of mental health issues were faced by people in these low-income families.

Skip to 2 minutes and 51 seconds So then what we did was we looked at some of the benefits that they found when they´d had holiday. So, if we support them with a holiday? Then what are the benefits that they get from having that time together? Well, spending time together as a family was a really important outcome for low income families, and also getting away from the difficult circumstances that they faced in everyday life. So, we found it difficult. All these families found it difficult to really escape from everyday life. They were living in these crowded situations with a high levels of stress and anxiety and lots of complicated circumstances affecting different family members.

Skip to 3 minutes and 39 seconds And so, they benefited from just being away together, spending leisure time together in a different environment, and away from all of their problems at home. And of course, also there’s recovery from ill health. So, if you’ve got stress, anxiety, lots of different health problems, then just a simple break away from home can make all of the difference. And the highest perceived benefits were the opportunity for fun and happy memories for the children at just over 80%. So that’s a really important benefit and also the chance to spend quality time together as a family. So that’s also an important outcome from social tourism initiatives and the opportunities to experience something new and different.

Skip to 4 minutes and 27 seconds So, families are living in very poor conditions in their everyday life. They don’t have very many opportunities to just go out and experience something different. Some other research that we’ve done with lots of different colleagues around Europe, this one in Spain with a colleague called Maria Ferri, And she did some research with older people in Spain. She did a survey with older people in leisure centers. And she explored the relationships between travel and self-reported health perceptions amongst older people in Spain. And by doing this, she employed the World Health Organization’s classification of functioning disability and health. And she compared those elderly people who were used to travel and those elderly people who don’t travel very often.

Skip to 5 minutes and 20 seconds And what she found was that global health perceptions were higher amongst those elderly people who were able to travel than those elderly people that weren’t able to travel. Tourists, those elderly people who were able to participate in travel had higher reported physical and mental health, better capacity to carry out activities in their daily life. So, tourism is good for people, particularly good for the elderly. If we can travel, it helps us feel more healthy. If we’re not able to travel, then we have less good quality health. And another something completely different was with a PhD student of mine called Kakoudakis.

Skip to 6 minutes and 6 seconds He did his PhD, looking at people who were unemployed, long term unemployed people who applied to the charity, the family holiday association for a short break And what he found was that unemployed people who were able to take a holiday through support by the charity, had better levels of optimism after the holiday. So, a short break can facilitate increases in their perceived self-efficacy and bring about positive changes in job searching behavior and job search related behaviors. So, in other words, people were more confident after they have been on a holiday. They felt better able at more optimistic and better able to go out and looking for jobs. So, they were more active job seekers.

Skip to 7 minutes and 2 seconds There were significant increases in job search intensity, for example, and that points to the potential transformative impact of holidays on optimism, resilience, and confidence among people who have long term unemployed and find it difficult to get back into work. So, holiday can help a whole range of different people in a whole range of different circumstances. So, if you’ve got, low income families where there’s difficulties and family breakdown relationships, a holiday can help repair some of those relationships. For older people, a holiday can help them be more active. An active older aging leads to better health.

Skip to 7 minutes and 47 seconds And if amongst people with long term unemployment issues who were depressed or anxious about not having work and not able to find work, a short holiday can help them feel more resilient and optimistic and confident about their future. So, across a range of different research context, we found a lot of benefits that can be derived from social tourism.

Major research findings on social tourism

In this video, we will learn that social tourism is a good experience for the whole society.

At present, there are many studies focus on the benefits of social tourism, but we also need to understand the needs of social tourism users. What do you think social tourism users care more about?

We would like to invite you to share your thoughts with learners in the comments section below.

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Research Methods in Tourism Studies

Nankai University