Tourism & Experiences

Tourism and leisure studies have long been seeking to understand the nature of the tourist experience, its relation to motivations for travel, and the ways destinations can create memorable experiences that satisfy the complex desires of tourists.

The search for worthwhile experiences through encounters with new places is a main driving force of tourism and leisure practices, and place-making and the creating of a unique sense of place are vital elements in tourism destination development. As such, understanding the complexities of place-based experiences and place-making efforts is crucial in order to understand the broader phenomenon of tourism.

Understanding experiences

In this trajectory, we draw on a range of perspectives from tourism studies to understand experiences and processes of place-making within their changing social and political context. On the one hand, experiences are highly subjective and connected to individual history and identity. On the other hand they are simultaneously framed by wider socio-cultural and political discourses, and shared practices situated in particular places. For example, tourism places both shape and are shaped by, experiential themes, such as cultural heritage, thrills and adventure, sun-sea-sand, particular leisure activities, natural heritage, and other. In this way, tourism and leisure experiences are part of ongoing processes of place-making.

Analysing the dynamic interplay

In this trajectory, students will analyse the complex and dynamic interplay of various place-making practices, and tourist experiences, particularly in relation to heritage and food. In period 3 and 5 students can direct their study to tourist experiences and the way they have been conceptualized in the social sciences (GEO 32306) and focus on the reciprocal relationship between humans and the built and natural environment (GEO-36306). This will then lead to different thesis opportunities such as analyzing the sense of place of different tourists (see. e.g. “Differences and similarities in the use and experience of place between hotel guests and Airbnb guests in Amsterdam: an interpretation of the relationships between tourist trajectories, sense of place and host-guest interaction”) and examining the interrelations between cultural heritage and identity formation (see e.g. “Heritage as an invigoration of self-identity: a quantitative analysis of the raison d’ être of heritage in Western societies”).


The trajectory will:

  1. Provide students with an in-depth understanding of the key conceptualizations of place-based (tourism) experiences, and how they relate to different practices such as cultural heritage, food and customs;
  2. Provide students with a critical understanding, and an ability to analyze and evaluate, key related concepts as well as more specific management tools related to experience design;
  3. Provide students with a critical understanding of the relationships between people and places from different disciplinary perspectives and how spatially situated practices and meanings are constructed, maintained, and negotiated at both a local and global level.


Students need to follow two courses related to this trajectory: