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|Author :||Anna Blackman, Gianna Moscardo, Andrea Schurmann & Laurie Murphy|
|School/Work Place :||James Cook University, Australia|
The concept of Quality of Life (QoL) is implicit in conceptualisations of tourism, especially those used to develop and guide tourism policy and planning. At the individual level it is assumed that travel offers a number of different ways to improve the QoL of the tourist, through contributions to physical health, stress release, learning and skills building. At the community level tourism development is typically presented as a tool to improve or enhance the QoL of destination residents. More recent analyses of the actual contributions that tourism makes to the QoL of destination communities have demonstrated both the complexity of the concept and suggested that tourism may not always make the assumed QoL contributions. Research to date on the links between travel and individual QoL has focussed mostly on describing the range of contributions, especially for younger travellers and specific forms of tourism such as volunteering, backpacking and educational tourism, often associated with youth tourists. This research does have, however, a number of issues including problems with survivor bias and a reliance on inferring the QoL contributions from descriptions of travel experiences. This paper seeks to contribute to improving our understanding of the linkages between QoL and tourism through an exploratory study of young people’s social representations of QoL in general.
By studying representations of Qol outside of the tourism context it is possible to more critically examine the role that tourism might play at both an individual and a community level. At the individual level it allows for an analysis of how important travel is, if at all, in QoL, while at the community level it provides insights into how tourism impacts could affect younger destination residents. Improving our understanding of the relationship between tourism and QoL has implications for several aspects of tourism policy and planning related to product development, choices about directions for destination development, and the provision of access to travel opportunities for citizens.