What makes a destination beautiful? Dimensions of tourist aesthetic judgment

Ksenia Kirillova, Xiaoxiao Fu, Xinran Lehto, Liping Cai

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

276 Citations (Scopus)


Drawing on the literature in environmental psychology, the current study attempted to reveal dimensions of tourist aesthetic judgment in the context of both nature-based and urban tourist destinations. Two-stage analysis of semi-structured interview data from a theoretical sample of 57 individuals yielded 21 aesthetic dimensions that were categorized into nine themes: Scale, Time, Condition, Sound, Balance, Diversity, Novelty, Shape, and Uniqueness. The identified themes were further conceptualized into a two-dimensional plane along Concrete-Abstract and Subjective-Objective continuums. This research posits that tourism allows a unique "appreciator-object" dyad where individuals are fully immersed in a destination in pursuit of a non-routine and oftentimes novel experience. The beauty of tourism destination is uniquely judged, admired, and appreciated, and the assessment of the beauty goes beyond the visual aspects and engages all senses. The findings make a theoretical contribution to the existing aesthetics literature and bear practical implications for destination planning, branding, and management.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)282-293
Number of pages12
JournalTourism Management
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Aesthetic judgment
  • Destination management
  • Destination planning
  • Experience-based products
  • Tourism aesthetics
  • Tourism experience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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