Breadcrumbs

Travelling for pleasure, research, and a living

12 November 2018

Jun Wen with one of his research aids.

University of Waikato tourism researcher Jun Wen’s area of expertise is special interest tourism; he is travelling the world to find out why people go places.

Jun grew up in China and has always wanted to do research from a Chinese perspective in order to bring that viewpoint to the Western world. He also wants to gain a better understanding of the Chinese outbound tourism sector. His research interests were inspired by his own encounters in the tourism and hospitality industry; he ran a café in China for 2 years before coming to Waikato to pursue an academic career.

From a tourism perspective, Jun says the Netherlands is an interesting place, having first discovered it while conducting drug research. “You can do a lot of things there that are illegal in China - gambling, paying for sexual services, and buying cannabis for recreational use. So Chinese tourists want to go there to find a different way to relax that’s not traditional.” These are novelty-seeking activities - a form of adventure tourism - and such pastimes are inherently sensitive; so people are reluctant to discuss them. To facilitate data collection, Jun persuaded several café owners to get on board. He approached many potential participants, but only some were willing to open up about their cannabis-related experiences. Their revelations inspired Jun to devise a six-factor motivation scale: spiritual and emotional healing; social prestige; relaxation and escape; cannabis authenticity; commercial cannabis availability; and cannabis experimentation. And yes, the drug-oriented tourists will travel again to use cannabis legally.

In his food research, Jun came up with a new way to describe people who travel to consume local food as a way of experiencing places. His subsequent cigar research took him to Cuba. Jun’s not afraid to admit he loves cigars and hopes to become a cigar aficionado, so this wasn’t an onerous task. He points out that a growing number of Chinese tourists are drawn to cigars and cigar-producing regions and events, and he identified a major motivating factor as social prestige: travelling to cigar brands’ country of origin could satisfy Chinese tourists’ desire to display their social status.

Now, he’s looking at elderly (gerontological) Chinese tourists from their 60s to 90s who have travelled to one of three markets: New Zealand, Israel, and Argentina. A strange mix, perhaps, but Jun says these nations are popular for a reason. New Zealand is a thriving market because of its enticing natural environment. “The fresh air and healthy environment makes New Zealand a kind of health/wellness tourism destination.” And the others? “Despite Israel being highly volatile, the research shows that the Chinese see it as being safe to travel in, and the local people are extremely friendly, so it’s a really rewarding experience. For Argentina, it’s more a push from the country to open its market to China.”

Tourism research may seem like a dream job, but Jun says it is expensive and time consuming. “It is very difficult to collect empirical data, especially in terms of some emerging markets. But because of my travel experiences and good relationships with travel agencies and other organizations, we often collaborate. I want to make sure I share my academic knowledge with the industry. It helps to have a better understanding of the impact research can have.”

Jun Wen is currently a research associate working with Professor Chris Ryan and gained his PhD in 2018 supervised by Anne Zahra and Tim Lockyer. They are part of the Waikato UNWTO Tourism Monitoring Observatory. He will join Edith Cowan University as a lecturer around early 2019. He is also working with Professor Songshan (Sam) Huang on research projects to provide new insights regarding Chinese outbound tourism development and Chinese tourist behaviours.

Related stories

Masters of Management Studies alumnus now Director of Digital Business at Barclays

By catching onto the internet early, Adrian Smith has built a breadth of knowledge and…

crowd

Public support for union default

A new survey of nearly 1500 New Zealanders shows the majority support a union default…

Eva Collins

Significant partnerships

New University Councillor Eva Collins says governance depends on effective partnership.

tradeunion

A call for change in voluntary unionism

Academics suggest a union default, enacted in law, will help address rising income inequality.

University of Waikato climbs international rankings

For the sixth year running, the University of Waikato has climbed up the QS World…

Waikato students win big at NZ Startup Bootcamp

Two University of Waikato teams came out on top of the NZ Startup Bootcamp, each…

The Entrepreneurial Inmate

The University of Waikato is giving inmates at the country’s biggest women’s prison the chance…

Building a new knowledge base in the Pacific

Masters’ graduate Riby Tupiti taking a lot of learning from both inside and outside the…

Rajeev Sharma

Getting bang for buck from business analytics

At a free public lecture on Tuesday 21 May, Professor Rajeev Sharma of Waikato Management…

Peter Ayson Caitlin Langlands

One student, three specialties

All-rounder Caitlin Langlands receives a special award.

A dream come true

For international student Guillermo William Revelo, New Zealand is no longer just a dream holiday…

Fieldays

Fieldays scholarship for agri students

Masters and PhD students studying at Waikato can apply for the National Agricultural Fieldays Sir…