Netnography in qualitative tourism research
Mkono, M 2013, 'Netnography in qualitative tourism research', in J Fountain & K Moore (eds), CAUTHE Conference 2013 – Tourism and Global Change, Christchurch, New Zealand, 11-14 February, CAUTHE 2013, Lincoln University, New Zealand, Council for Australian University Tourism and Hospitality Education (CAUTHE), Christchurch, New Zealand, pp. 501-511. ISBN: 9780864762832
In this paper I discuss netnography (online ethnography), an Internet-based qualitative methodology, and illustrate how it has been applied in tourism studies. This follows the growing use of the Internet as a viable fieldwork site for qualitative tourism research. The findings demonstrate that while it remains underutilised, netnography has increasingly been adopted in recent years for the study of a wide range of tourism topics, including authenticity quests, niche tourist groups (for example, those related to adult tourism, medical tourism, holocaust tourism, backpacker tourism), guest satisfaction, environmental concerns, and tourism employment. It was also found that most netnographic researchers opt for “covert and passive” positionality, merely observing cyber-communications, without participating in them, or disclosing their researcher status to online community members. The paper suggests that with increasing publication of netnographic tourism studies in high profile tourism journals, the credibility and application of the methodology is set to grow.