Leisure travel is typically seen as an escape, a break from one’s everyday routine and a time to simply unplug and relax. But a Journal of Travel Research article spotlights evidence that tourism of a certain type can make a world of difference in vacationers’ lives. Lynn Minnaert of the University of Surrey published “Social Tourism as Opportunity for Unplanned Learning and Behavior Change” on February 27, 2012 in JTR:
Tourism can be considered an educational experience: it is often portrayed as an integral part of personal development, that can be deep and meaningful, and that can change the way tourists think and act on their return. Relatively little however is known about these touristic learning experiences: research evidence on learning and behavior change in ecotourism highlights that the effects of the holiday are often limited unless formal learning opportunities are provided. This article reviews evidence about social tourism for low-income groups, and argues that learning and behavior change can ensue from the holiday experience without these planned, formal learning activities. These unplanned learning opportunities are theorized, and key conditions for learning are identified. Examples are provided of potential learning outcomes and of instances where these can lead to positive behavior change.