The challenge of proximity: the (un)attractiveness of near-home tourism destinations

Jelmer Hendrik Gerard Jeuring, Tialda Haartsen

Onderzoeksoutput: ArticleAcademicpeer review

34 Citaten (Scopus)
663 Downloads (Pure)


Imaginaries of touristic otherness have traditionally been closely related to geographical distance and travel far away from the everyday. But in today's context of sustainable tourism, a moral and behavioral shift may be expected, toward traveling near home. Distance may actually become a disadvantage and proximity a new commodity. This implies a need to disentangle subjective understandings of both distance and proximity in relation to perceived attractiveness of and touristic behavior in places near home. Thus, it is aimed to shed light on how ‘proximity tourism’ is constructed, endorsed and appreciated (or not).
An online survey (N = 913) was administered to residents of the Dutch province of Friesland, exploring their attitudes toward their home province as tourism destination and representations of proximity and distance in relation to preferred vacation destinations. We grouped respondents into four categories, reflecting destination preferences: (1) proximate, (2) distant, (3) intermediate and (4) mixed. These groups were differentiated and characterized using quantitative and qualitative analyses. The ‘proximate’ and ‘distant’ preference groups, respectively, were most and least engaged in proximity tourism. However, the perceptions of proximity and distance expressed by the ‘intermediate’ and ‘mixed’ preference groups were associated in a nonlinear way with appreciation of the home region as a tourism destination. Additionally, respondents used proximity and distance in various ways as push, pull, keep and repel factors motivating their destination preferences.
Interpretations of both proximity and distance were thus important in determining engagement in proximity tourism and, in turn, the potential for proximity tourism development in the region. This implies that such development will require a balanced consideration of the relative, temporally sensitive ways that people negotiate distance and proximity in their perceptions of being at home and away. Our results advance the discussion about imaginaries of travel, distance and proximity, and their impact on regional tourism.
Originele taal-2English
Pagina's (van-tot)118-141
Aantal pagina's24
TijdschriftTourism Geographies
Nummer van het tijdschrift1
Vroegere onlinedatum20-apr-2016
StatusPublished - 2017

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