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Transformative potential of events – the case of gay ski week in Queenstown, New Zealand

Willem J.L. Coetzee (Department of Tourism, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand)
Xiang Neo Liu (Department of Tourism, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand)
Crystal V. Filep (School of Surveying, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand)

Tourism Review

ISSN: 1660-5373

Article publication date: 19 June 2019

Issue publication date: 1 November 2019




Previous research has explored a relatively narrow representation of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and queer (LGBTQ) community. Yet modern event attendees are part of a diverse niche group within the broader LGBTQ community. This group comprises a wide range of event attendees in search of more than sex, clubs and feather boas. This paper aims to report on empirical research conducted in Queenstown, New Zealand, during the 2016 Gay Ski Week (GSW) and explores the transformative, inclusive potential of event places, social atmospheres and experiences.


Ethnographic and autoethnographic research methods were used in this study for the exploration of transformative tourism experiences. Qualitative data were collected via in-depth interviews, observations and one of the author’s immersive experiences of the event. This author was able to bridge the divide between research and participant, contributing to a contextualised understanding of various participants’ subjective realities.


The paper reports on and discusses empirical findings, which are organised under the meta-themes of place and social atmosphere, attendee experiences, acceptance and inclusivity.

Research limitations/implications

From these themes emerge a broader understanding of how LGBTQ tourism events can contribute to transformative, inclusive experiences.


This paper explores the need for event managers to revisit and adapt to the demographic, motivational and behavioural characteristics of the modern gay event attendee. In particular, this paper discovers the motivations of Asian gay attendees as a marginalised community within a traditional LGBTQ event in a traditional heterosexual destination.



Coetzee, W.J.L., Liu, X.N. and Filep, C.V. (2019), "Transformative potential of events – the case of gay ski week in Queenstown, New Zealand", Tourism Review, Vol. 74 No. 5, pp. 1081-1090.



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