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

Alexandra Witte, Jase Wilson, Elisa Burrai, Kate Dashper

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1394 - 1408
Number of pages15
JournalCurrent Issues in Tourism
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023


  • emotion
  • fieldwork reflections
  • mobility
  • participant recruitment
  • Tourism ethnography
  • transience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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