Hell is other people? An existential-phenomenological analysis of the local gaze in tourism

Philipp Wassler, Ksenia Kirillova

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


The “Gaze” is a complex and overarching phenomenon comprised of diverse “Gazers” and “Gazees”. This paper adopts an existential-phenomenological perspective to understand tourists’ lived experiences of being gazed upon by local people. Based on thirty experiences collected from interviews with ten participants, we show that experiencing the “Local Gaze” exposes the tourist as Sartrean “Tourist-esque”: an inauthentic experiencer of positivity, discrimination, alienation and self-consciousness. Moments of true human connections are at best ephemeral. Through an existentialist lens, the study questions the possibility of authentic host-guest relationship in tourism and argues that to maintain hopes for an authentic relationship, the concepts of “Gaze” and – perhaps even of “Tourism” – need to be transcended.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)116-126
Number of pages11
JournalTourism Management
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


  • Existentialism
  • I-thou
  • Local gaze
  • Social connections
  • Sociality
  • Tourist experience
  • Tourist gaze
  • Touristesque

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Transportation
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management
  • Strategy and Management

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