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Motivations?. . . to learn, to learn as well . . . to
experience other cultures, because I think that a
lot of people are very closed minded, and they
only live in their own little circular community
in Australia.
Table 11.1. The comparison between
backpacker's perceptions of a host destination and
the host population.
Perception: one
word to describe 'Pai
people' (words used by
Perception: one word
to describe 'Pai' (words
used by backpackers)
Expectation of authenticity
Relaxed (laid back,
relaxing, chilled out)
Friendly (friendly, open
hearted, accommodating,
helpful, approachable,
accepting, nice)
From the 30 interviews, there were seven themes
that emerged in relation to backpackers' expecta-
tions of authenticity - non-touristic (40%), primi-
tiveness (40%), relaxation (30%), small-scale
(13%), slow pace of life (13%), hippy atmo-
sphere (10%) and no expectation of authenticity
(13%). Within the theme of primitiveness, local
people are a key factor in creating the authenti-
city of a destination. A primitive host population
refers to those who lack knowledge of the English
language, shun Western values, and live simply
and modestly. In addition, the presence of the
local population rather than foreign tourists was
discussed as an indicator of authenticity.
Beauty (beauty, beautiful,
heaven, paradise, nice,
Quiet (quiet, calm,
peaceful, discreet)
Peaceful (quiet,
peaceful, quaint)
Attractive (engaging,
special, colourful, shining
bright, amazing)
Escape (escape from
reality, timelessness)
Relaxed (relaxed, laid
Friendliness (friendly,
Happy (happy, smiley,
(Bohemian, funky, hippy)
Primitive (genuine,
simple, timeless)
Change (changing,
Change (earn money
from tourist, jaded)
I think local people . . . I mean, fi rst I come for
people, you know . . . and after for the cities, for
nature, but more for people . . . Yes, a lot of time
I try to fi nd different tribe in Thailand, because
there are a lot of them and the . . . for that it was
attracted me when I was travelling . . .
Others statements
(traveller city, worth)
by the host society and the local residents. Back-
packers were asked to give a word to describe
Pai and its inhabitants. As detailed in Table 11.1,
it was found that backpackers have a positive
perception towards the host society and its resi-
dents. In addition, it was found that the image of
local people, as perceived by the backpackers, is
similar to how they would describe a primitive
person, for example, calm and peaceful, simple,
genuine and friendly. Additionally, the image of
the host destination and society, as reported by
backpackers, is often contrary to the image of
the people and the modern western society from
which backpackers are trying to escape.
In terms of backpacker's self-perception,
there were ten themes that emerged from the
content analysis of this study. These were inde-
pendent (27%), relaxed (20%), self-growth
(17%), inquisitive (13%), closer to a host society
(10%), not a tourist (10%), peacefulness (10%),
happiness (7%), fulfi lment (3%) and cultural
ambassador (3%). Among the most used expres-
sions to describe the backpacker's self-image
Noy (2004), proposed that seeking authenticity
relates to the backpacker's self-identity and also
creates an 'authenticist backpacker'. It is clear
that seeking authenticity is a core theme of the
backpackers' ideology and that a host society
and its population are very important to a back-
packer's desired experience. Hence, it is most
likely that the host-guest relationship remains the
main component of a backpacker's experience.
Backpackers' perception of the destination,
host population and self
According to Passer and Smith (2001), percep-
tion is the mental process, which suggests one's
constructed interpretation or understanding of
the surrounding environment. Applied to this
study, perception of a backpacker could relate
to how much a backpacker's mind was infl uenced
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