Pleasure or pain or both? Exploring working holiday experiences through the lens of transformative learning theory

Jing (Bill) Xu, Ada Lo, Joey Wu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


Research on tourist transformation and transformative experiences is in its infancy. How tourists are triggered in a transformative dynamic of positive and negative components is little understood. This study attempts to fill this gap by using transformative learning theory (TLT) to explore working holiday experiences, based on evidence from Hong Kong tourists. A working holiday is a unique informal learning context involving an extended stay at a destination, which offers both pleasures and challenges. Interviews with working holiday tourists reveal that pleasurable and painful experiences are included in their working holiday recollections. Working holiday tourists transform themselves informally through these experiences, attaining psychological, behavioural and convictional outcomes. Our results provide managerial insights for government agencies, host destinations and other stakeholders, showing how they can enhance working holiday tourists’ experiences and enable transformative learning outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-75
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Hospitality and Tourism Management
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021


  • Pain
  • Pleasure
  • Transformative learning theory
  • Working holiday
  • Working holiday tourists (WHTs)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management

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