Understanding the tourist process of authenticity perception in Scottish tourism

Rights statement
Awarding institution
  • University of Strathclyde
Date of award
  • 2022
Thesis identifier
  • T16393
Person Identifier (Local)
  • 201556963
Qualification Level
Qualification Name
Department, School or Faculty
  • Authenticity is a contested concept. It is intrinsically linked and curated through individual perception, making any application of this concept a challenge. The challenge of defining authenticity has generated several different approaches and typologies of the concept, leaving its effective application confusing. Establishing clarity in this concept is vital for the hospitality and tourism sector, as authentication and presenting authenticity are key motivators in tourism. The problem deepens when considering that tourist perception is idiosyncratic and is triggered differently by everyone through signs. This thesis aims to establish a clear understanding of the tourist process of authentication within the context of Scottish tourism. This is achieved through three stages of research: the conduction of a literature review, the conduction and analysis of a Repertory Test with Laddering Analysis method, and a theoretical discussion on the findings from both the literature and the primary research concluding with the development of a theoretical framework. This thesis fully recognises the many typologies of authenticity and their use to date in establishing the narrative of how the tourist searches for authenticity through a comprehensive literature review. Through this review, two predominant categories of authenticity are developed, objective authenticity and existential authenticity. While usually viewed as separate, this thesis brings together these two categories to clarify the combined function of both typologies and how they function together through the tourist gaze. This thesis aims to establish the commonalities of the authentication process in Scottish tourism by incorporating a novel methodological approach: the Repertory Test with Laddering Analysis. This method is founded in personal construct psychology (PCP) and allows the data collected to be both individual through the individual corollary and be developed into communal Hierarchical Value Chain Maps from the commonality corollary. This ability to capture both the individual perception of authenticity and simultaneously develop commonalities within the process makes this the perfect methodological tool for collecting data on the authenticity processes. Through the analysis of the findings and the discussion, several conclusions are drawn. Objective authentication typologies play a key role in the tourist's positive authentication, an attribute of a tourist attraction to a personal benefit. Existential authentication typologies play a key role in the tourist's positive authentication. This benefits the end value as it becomes a form of self-actualisation. The tourist is in a continual search for self-actualisation due to the impacts of commodification in the industry, leading to alienation, thus closing the loop in a continuous search. The data also illustrates the commonalities in the authentication process specific to Scottish tourism. These commonalities reflect the attributes, benefits, and end values that tourists search for and can be used by industry to aid the tourist in their successful authentication process. Therefore, this theoretical framework and the development of a Scottish tourism specific ‘Sets of Markers’ offers clarity in understanding the tourist process of authentication perception within Scottish tourism.
Advisor / supervisor
  • Murdy, Samantha
  • Tomazos, Kostas
Resource Type