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Whitelaw, R 2008, 'An investigation into positive relationships between backpackers of different cultures in Byron Bay', Honours thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.

Copyright R Whitelaw 2008


As the issue of guest – guest relationships has not been fully explored by the current literature and particularly in the area of backpackers. This study aimed to gain some understanding of the nature of positive intercultural relationships among backpackers in the Byron Bay region. The subsequent aim of this research was to see if there was any similarity between elements of the cultural profiles which might partially explain why there are positive relationships between backpackers’ guest-guest relationships. Five objectives were created in order to answer the aims of this study. Objective one was to fill in some of the research gaps that were discovered in the process of this research. The issue of positive relationships and friendships has not been fully explored, whereas the majority of the research focuses on the negative aspects of backpacking and tourism. Objective two was to find out which cultural factors influence the development of friendship among backpackers of different cultural backgrounds. The contribution to the knowledge base on how backpackers relate to other backpackers was objective three. Objective four was to enhance the participants’ cultural self knowledge. By completing Paula Chu’s cultural compass and hence gain an understanding to how they each perceive time, activity, human relationships and nature. Objective 5 was to gain an insight into the value of Paula Chu’s cultural compass as a research tool and producing the cultural profiles of the different backpackers who complete the cultural compass.

A qualitative methodology has been used to undertake this research. To achieve the outcomes of this research Paula Chu’s cultural compass was used as a methodological instrument, and subsequently its validity was evaluated in the process. The research comprised of two stages. Stage one involved information collected from the backpackers completing the individual culture compass by Paula Chu (Seelye, 1996). Stage two involved the use of a semi structured interview consisting of two questions (Wengraf 2001) which address the positive relationships that the backpackers have towards each other (Seelye 1996).

This study found the key elements for establishing positive relationships amongst backpackers from different cultures was the individual’s personality, the similarities between the two parties and their attitudes towards life. While having similar culture compasses did not necessarily have an impact on the formation of positive relationships, as it was found that culture was not of as much importance as personality. This research is significant as it found that guest – guest relationships were important when studying backpackers as most backpacker accommodation encourages interactions between backpackers. Future research could possibly focus on guest-guest relationships of different groups of tourists.