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From East to West: Understanding Tourism Development in Scotland from a Chinese perspective - investigating how Scotland as a tourism destination provides appealing offering(s)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Sunday, March 31, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Tourism industry has continuously contributed 5% to the Scottish GDP since 2015 (ScotGov, 2015) and this economic contribution is projected to be more significant due to Brexit (Tourism Alliance, 2017). In 2017, 2% inbound international tourists came from China with a spending at £256 million (accounting for 11% of tourism revenue) (Visit Scotland, 2018), but our understanding about this profitable market segment is very limited. This proposed project aims to investigate how Scotland as a tourism destination provides appealing offering(s), i.e., tourism experience, with international tourists, looking specifically at Chinese tourists. Towards this, the project will take a participatory ethnographic approach, and will draw on established methodologies of action research to focus on three specific objectives are as follow:

1. To explore Chinese “tourist gaze” (Urry, 1992) of Scotland as a whole tourism destination;
2. To investigate how Scotland establish its online and offline tourism destination image towards Chinese market;
3. To examine the interaction between Scottish hosts and Chinese tourists and how such an interaction impacts the local residents
wellbeing and their attitudes towards tourism development, as well as Chinese tourists experience and their intention to revisit

From the academic point of view, tourist gaze is one of the most important concepts in the field of tourism research (John, 1990) and the previous studies are inherently Western-centric, i.e., gaze from the Western tourists to non-Western hosts. With the rapidly growing Asian, and particularly Chinese tourist market, it is necessary to attain insights into the Eastern Gaze on a western destination. Moreover, destination image plays a key role in the domain of tourism marketing, e.g., enhancing tourist loyalty, gaining competitive edge with other destination competitors (Chi & Qu, 2008). Since there no research has systematically examined how Scotland establishes and constructs its image towards a non-Western market, this project attempts to fill in the knowledge gap through investigating the online and offline marketing activities conducted by relevant Scottish organizations and companies. Furthermore, there is a genuine value to understanding how the Scottish host interact with Chinese tourists in their daily lives, as a positive host-tourist interaction can not only improve tourist satisfaction but also improve the local residents wellbeing and their supports for tourism industry, achieving a sustainable development (Carneiro & Eusébio, 2015).

The proposed doctoral project will be supervised by Dr. Xiaoqing Chen and Prof. J. Ignacio Canales from the Business School, University of Aberdeen, and will be built on an existing HK Research Grants Council’s study, Digital Marketing in Hong Kong Tourism Industry that investigates interactions between HK Airbnb hosts and guests. This project is designed with a three-year research plan below (Figure 1). The first year will be started with extensively reviewing literature and research methodology, based on which establish the detailed plan and connections with relevant organizations. In the second year, some practical and prepared works, including a pilot study and attending conference, will be conducted to ensure that the fieldwork will be practiced smoothly. The third year will be mainly for ‘realizing’ the research results: industry report(s), academic paper(s) and doctoral thesis, enabling the further exploration of research grants. The findings will have relevance for academics and practitioners working predominantly within tourism marking, consumer behavior and education. Therefore, potential results will be reported in relevant industry publications (e.g., Travel Weekly, Travel Bulletin), academic journals (e.g., Tourism Management, Journal of Interactive Marketing, and Journal of Consumer Research) and consulting reports with local organization (e.g., Visit Scotland, Visit Aberdeen). Local media will also be contacted through University Communication Team. The research will provide a basis for further work exploring international tourist experiences in the UK/Scotland and the destination (e.g., Aberdeen) marketing in the tourism context.

Funding Notes

Applicants interested in this research project should submit a more detailed research proposal (of a maximum of 2000 words)

This project is funded by a University of Aberdeen Elphinstone Scholarship. An Elphinstone Scholarship covers the cost of tuition fees, whether Home, EU or Overseas. Selection will be made on the basis of academic merit.


Carneiro, M. J., & Eusébio, C. (2015). Host-tourist interaction and impact of tourism on residents’ Quality of Life. Tourism & Management Studies, 11(1), 25-34.
Chi, C. G.-Q., & Qu, H. (2008). Examining the structural relationships of destination image, tourist satisfaction and destination loyalty: An integrated approach. Tourism management, 29(4), 624-636.
John, U. (1990). The Tourist Gaze. Leisure and Travel in Contemporary Societies. Collection Theory, culture & society», London, Sage Publications.
ScotGov. (2015). Tourism and events. Retrieved from
TourismAlliance. (2017). UK TOURISM STATISTICS 2017. Retrieved from
Urry, J. (1992). The tourist gaze “revisited”. American Behavioral Scientist, 36(2), 172-186.
VisitScotland. (2018). Insight Department: Visitors from China. Retrieved from

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FTE Category A staff submitted: 13.30

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