NS29 Session 14

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Title: Closer to home: Visiting Friends and Relatives mobilities and their contribution to sustainable tourism

Organisers: Maria Casado-Diaz & Billy Clayton

Affiliation: University of the West of England


Visiting Friends and Relatives (VFR) has been suggested to be a more sustainable form of tourism, in contrast to modern mass-tourism (Griffin 2013). This is due to its often-local focus and its blurring of the line between the “exotic” experiences of traditional tourism practices and the “everyday” lives and practices of hosts. VFR typically involves a longer length of stay than other forms of tourism allowing the visitors to engage in more ‘real’ or ‘authentic’ tourism experience of the destination as well as positively contributing to a wider spread of the economic impacts within the community.

According to the literature, the significance of VFR mobilities has traditionally been underestimated, both in terms of value and volume (Backer 2012; Shani and Uriely 2012), despite its large contribution to worldwide travel and its important social and economic dimensions.  VFR tourism enables the fulfilment of social obligations while also providing an opportunity for engaging in the consumption of tourism activities (Janta et al. 2015) and can positively and negatively affect the well-being, lifestyle and happiness of those being visited, especially due to the intense and intimate nature of these visits (Larsen et al. 2007).

VFR tourism has been conceptualised as a leisure constituent of VFR mobility and a means of maintaining connections with family and friends (Duval 2003). Tran et al (2018) have also emphasized the dynamic interaction of host-guest roles and the possibility that individuals may alternate between hosting and guesting roles with friends and family. As pointed out by Janta et al. (2015), VFR mobilities are conform by diverse (and often overlapping) practices that include social relationships, the provision of care, affirmations of identities and roots, maintenance of territorial rights, and leisure tourism.

This session invites papers that explore the social and/or economic dimensions of VFR tourism and its potential contribution towards more sustainable forms of tourism consumption. The focus of the session is on Visiting Friends and Relatives tourism as an example of this, however papers which are relevant to the topic of hidden mobilities more broadly are very welcome.


Abstract submission