Tourists’ shifting perceptions of UNESCO heritage sites: lessons from Jeju Island-South Korea

Kun Kim (Department of Information System and Analytics, National University of Singapore, Singapore)
Ounjoung Park (Department of Tourism Management, Jeju National University, Jeju, Republic of Korea)
Jacob Barr (Department of Tourism Management, Jeju National University, Jeju, Republic of Korea)
Haejung Yun (Ewha Womans University, Seoul, Republic of Korea)

Tourism Review

ISSN: 1660-5373

Publication date: 4 February 2019

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this research is to analyze the shifting perceptions of international tourists to Jeju Island and provide practical lessons to the tourism industry. Specifically, in regard to three United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) natural World Heritage sites in Jeju, this research measures the most salient topics mentioned by tourists to inform a more accurate perception of the island’s most valuable natural assets as reported by tourism experiences.

Design/methodology/approach

This study used a Web crawler to gather over 1,500 English language reviews from international tourists from a famous travel information website. The collected data were then preprocessed for stemming and lemmatization. After this, the processed text data were analyzed through a latent Dirichlet allocation (LDA)-based topic modeling approach to identify the most prominent clusters of ideas mentioned and represent them visually through graphs, tables and charts.

Findings

The findings from this research suggest that there are ten identifiable topics. Topics focusing on “adventure,” “summits” and “winter” showed noticeable increases, whereas topics focusing on “sunrise peak” and “UNESCO” have decreased over time. There is a trend for international tourists to be ever more conscious of the adventurous and rugged aspects of Jeju, and the novelty of mentioning UNESCO status seems to have worn off. Furthermore, there is the proclivity for tourists to mention “worth” and “enjoy” more as time goes on.

Originality/value

This study applies LDA-based topic modeling and LDAvis using user-generated online reviews with time-series analyses. Consequently, it provides unique insights into the changing perceptions of ecotourism on Jeju today, as well as contribution to smart tourism fields.

Keywords

Citation

Kim, K., Park, O., Barr, J. and Yun, H. (2019), "Tourists’ shifting perceptions of UNESCO heritage sites: lessons from Jeju Island-South Korea", Tourism Review, Vol. 74 No. 1, pp. 20-29. https://doi.org/10.1108/TR-09-2017-0140

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Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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