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Navigating tourism ethnographies – fieldwork embroiled in time, movement and emotion

Witte, Alexandra; Wilson, Jase; Burrai, Elisa; Dashper, Kate


Jase Wilson

Elisa Burrai

Kate Dashper


In this paper, we reflect on the challenges of ethnographic fieldwork in tourism research. Specifically, we discuss the intense, messy and complex dynamics of doing (tourism) ethnographic fieldwork, highlighting how key challenges have affected us as researchers, our practises, relationships and experiences in the field. Our reflections are illustrated considering respectively our research experiences of mountaineering in the Himalayas, walking tourism in China, horse-riding tourism in the UK and volunteer tourism in Peru. Although these fields have very different social and geopolitical contexts, we experienced similar issues. Our most commonly experienced challenges include time limitations, having ‘enough data’, accessibility to the informants and rapport building. Through the discussion of these challenges, we unpack the often conflicting emotional contours of fieldwork which are commonly experienced but rarely spoken of. With this paper, we seek to open critical debates on the emotional aspects of tourism research which may be particularly useful for novice ethnographers and scholars constrained by the institutionalized pressures of academia.


Witte, A., Wilson, J., Burrai, E., & Dashper, K. (2023). Navigating tourism ethnographies – fieldwork embroiled in time, movement and emotion. Current Issues in Tourism, 26(9), 1394-1408.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 20, 2022
Online Publication Date Apr 4, 2022
Publication Date 2023
Deposit Date Oct 17, 2022
Journal Current Issues in Tourism
Print ISSN 1368-3500
Electronic ISSN 1747-7603
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 26
Issue 9
Pages 1394-1408
Keywords Tourism ethnography, emotion, mobility, transience, fieldwork reflections, participant recruitment
Public URL