Big data or small data? A methodological review of sustainable tourism

Xu, FeiFei, Nash, Nicholas and Whitmarsh, Lorraine (2020) Big data or small data? A methodological review of sustainable tourism. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 28 (2). pp. 144-163. ISSN 0966-9582

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Big data or small data? A methodological review of sustainable tourism
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Research in the field of sustainable tourism is increasingly important due to significant growth in tourism industries and the unsustainable impacts incurred. Innovation in sustainable tourism studies is required to meet a number of challenges including socio-ecological impacts; the critical turn in tourism research; and the growth of ICTs, mobile technologies and big data analytics. These shifts in particular are transforming the field and creating new research opportunities. This paper seeks to identify potential new methodological areas of application to sustainable tourism studies for both quantitative and qualitative methods. A range of methods are reviewed, focusing on big data (e.g., mobile device signaling, GPS, social media and search engine data) that elucidates wider patterns of tourist movement, as applied to forecasting travel demands and sustainable management of a destination. Three novel ‘small data’ methods are also discussed, comprising visual methods, autoethnography, and qualitative GIS, that provide deeper, contextual insights into the drivers, dynamics and impacts of sustainable tourism. We consider how expansive qualitative methodologies might yield potentially important insights concealed by existing methodologies. Furthermore, we argue that combined big data and small data approaches can address methodological imbalance and generate mutually reinforcing insights at a number of levels.

Keywords:big data, small data, sustainable tourism, mobility, research methods
Subjects:N Business and Administrative studies > N800 Tourism, Transport and Travel
Divisions:Lincoln International Business School
ID Code:36468
Deposited On:18 Jul 2019 10:10

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