Power of Dramas: A Comparison of Voluntourism Between Chinese and American Film Tourists

Part of the Perspectives on Asian Tourism book series (PAT)


Neither the connection between film tourism and voluntourism nor the differences between Chinese and American film-induced voluntourists have been studied enough despite the potential importance of film-induced voluntourists for destinations. This research explores the phenomenon of voluntourism among fans of two very popular TV dramas in China and the US, Soldier Sortie and Lost, respectively, by conducting a qualitative ‘netnographic’ study on fans’ online conversations. The study aims at investigating both the motivations and specific behaviours of film-induced voluntourists in different cultures. The study finds that Soldier Sortie fans in China act more like a virtual charity organisation, while Lost fans engage with an existing charity organisation. Volunteering programs initiated by Soldier Sortie fans have taken on an important role in propelling the development of some tourist destinations in rural areas of the province where the series was shot. Moreover, Soldier Sortie fans act not only as donors but also as organisers and auditors, choosing and determining which school to help. This reflects the much stronger level of connectivity and activism among Chinese fans.


Film tourism Voluntourism Cultural difference Netnography Fan activism Social media 


  1. Aronson, J. (1995). A pragmatic view of thematic analysis. The qualitative report, 2(1), 1–3.Google Scholar
  2. Attride-Stirling, J. (2001). Thematic networks: An analytic tool for qualitative research. Qualitative Research, 1(3), 385–405.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baloglu, S., & Mangaloglu, M. (2001). Tourism destination images of Turkey, Egypt, Greece, and Italy as perceived by US-based tour operators and travel agents. Tourism Management, 22(1), 1–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Beeton, S. (2005). Film-induced tourism. Clevedon: Channel View Publications.Google Scholar
  5. Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brown, S., & Morrison, A. M. (2003). Expanding volunteer vacation participation an exploratory study on the mini-mission concept. Tourism Recreation Research, 28(3), 73–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Buchmann, A., Moore, K., & Fisher, D. (2010). Experiencing film tourism: Authenticity & fellowship. Annals of Tourism Research, 37(1), 229–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Busby, G., & Klug, J. (2001). Movie-induced tourism: The challenge of measurement and other issues. Journal of Vacation Marketing, 7(4), 316–332.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Busby, G., Huang, R., & Jarman, R. (2013). The Stein effect: An alternative film-induced tourism perspective. International Journal of Tourism Research, 15(6), 570–582.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Butcher, J. (2003). A humanistic perspective on the volunteer-recipient relationship. In P. Dekker & L. Halman (Eds.), The values of volunteering (pp. 111–125). New York: Springer Science+Business Media LLC.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chan, B. (2007). Film-induced tourism in Asia: A case study of Korean television drama and female viewers’ motivation to visit Korea. Tourism Culture and Communication, 7(3), 207–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Chang, D. Y. (2016). A study of TV drama series, cultural proximity and travel motivation: Moderation effect of enduring involvement. International Journal of Tourism Research, 18(4), 399–408.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Di Cesare, F., D’Angelo, L., & Rech, G. (2009). Films and tourism: Understanding the nature and intensity of their cause–effect relationship. Tourism Review International, 13(2), 103–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hahm, J., & Wang, Y. (2011). Film-induced tourism as a vehicle for destination marketing: Is it worth the efforts? Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing, 28(2), 165–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hudson, S., & Ritchie, J. R. B. (2006). Promoting destinations via film tourism: An empirical identification of supporting marketing initiatives. Journal of Travel Research, 44(4), 387–396.Google Scholar
  16. Hudson, S., Wang, Y., & Gil, S. M. (2011). The influence of a film on destination image and the desire to travel: A cross-cultural comparison. International Journal of Tourism Research, 13(2), 177–190.Google Scholar
  17. Iso-Ahola, S. E. (1982). Toward a social psychological theory of tourism motivation: A rejoinder. Annals of Tourism Research, 9(2), 256–262.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kim, S. (2010). Extraordinary experience: Re-enacting and photographing at screen tourism locations. Tourism and Hospitality Planning & Development, 7(1), 59–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kim, S. (2012a). Audience involvement and film tourism experiences: Emotional places, emotional experiences. Tourism Management, 33(2), 387–396.Google Scholar
  20. Kim, S. (2012b). A cross-cultural study of on-site film-tourism experiences among Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese and Thai visitors to the Daejanggeum Theme Park, South Korea. Current Issues in Tourism, 15(8), 759–776.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kim, S., & Long, P. (2012). Touring TV soap operas: Genre in film tourism research. Tourist Studies, 12(2), 173–185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kim, S., & O’Connor, N. (2011). A cross-cultural study of screen-tourists’ profiles. Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes, 3(2), 141–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kim, H., & Richardson, S. L. (2003). Motion picture impacts on destination images. Annals of Tourism Research, 30(1), 216–237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kim, S. S., Agrusa, J., Lee, H., & Chon, K. (2007). Effects of Korean television dramas on the flow of Japanese tourists. Tourism Management, 28(5), 1340–1353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kozinets, R. V. (2002). The field behind the screen: Using netnography for marketing research in online communities. Journal of Marketing Research, 39(1), 61–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kozak, M. (2002). Comparative analysis of tourist motivations by nationality and destinations. Tourism Management, 23(3), 221–232.Google Scholar
  27. Kozinets, R. V. (2015). Netnography: Redefined. Thousand Oaks: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kumar, A., & Dung, T. P. (2016). Film tourism and desire to travel: A cross National Study of India and China. In M. C. Dhiman (Ed.), Opportunities and challenges for tourism and Hospitality in the BRIC nations (pp. 203–219). Hershey: IGI Global.Google Scholar
  29. Lee, C. K. (2000). A comparative study of Caucasian and Asian visitors to a cultural expo in an Asian setting. Tourism Management, 21(2), 169–176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lee, S., Scott, D., & Kim, H. (2008). Celebrity fan involvement and destination perceptions. Annals of Tourism Research, 35(3), 809–832.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Li, S., Li, H., Song, H., Lundberg, C., & Shen, S. (2017). The economic impact of on-screen tourism: The case of the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit. Tourism Management, 60, 177–187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Macionis, N. (2004, November). Understanding the film-induced tourist. In International tourism and media conference proceedings (Vol. 24, pp. 86–97). Tourism Research Unit, Monash University: Melbourne, Australia.Google Scholar
  33. Macionis, N., & Sparks, B. (2009). Film-induced tourism: An incidental experience. Tourism Review International, 13(2), 93–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. McGehee, N. G., & Santos, C. A. (2005). Social change, discourse and volunteer tourism. Annals of Tourism Research, 32(3), 760–779.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. McKercher, B., & Du Cros, H. (2003). Testing a cultural tourism typology. International Journal of Tourism Research, 5(1), 45–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Merriam, S. (1998). Qualitative research and case study applications in education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  37. Mkono, M., & Markwell, K. (2014). The application of netnography in tourism studies. Annals of Tourism Research, 48, 289–291.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Mustonen, P. (2005). Volunteer tourism: Postmodern pilgrimage? Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change, 3(3), 160–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. O’Connor, N., Flanagan, S., & Gilbert, D. (2008). The integration of film-induced tourism and destination branding in Yorkshire, UK. International Journal of Tourism Research, 10(5), 423–437.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Pizam, A., & Jeong, G. H. (1996). Cross-cultural tourist behavior: Perceptions of Korean tour-guides. Tourism Management, 17(4), 277–286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Pizam, A., & Reichel, A. (1996). The effect of nationality on tourist behavior: Israeli tour-guides’ perceptions. Journal of Hospitality and Leisure Marketing, 4(1), 23–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Pizam, A., & Sussmann, S. (1995). Does nationality affect tourist behavior? Annals of Tourism Research, 22(4), 901–917.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Reisinger, Y., & Turner, L. W. (2002). Cultural differences between Asian tourist markets and Australian hosts, part 1. Journal of Travel Research, 40(3), 295–315.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Riley, R. W., & Van Doren, C. S. (1992). Movies as tourism promotion: A ‘pull’ factor in a ‘push’ location. Tourism Management, 13(3), 267–274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Riley, R., Baker, D., & Van Doren, C. S. (1998). Movie induced tourism. Annals of Tourism Research, 25(4), 919–935.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Rosenbaum, M. S., & Spears, D. L. (2005). Who buys that? Who does what? Analysis of cross-cultural consumption behaviours among tourists in Hawaii. Journal of Vacation Marketing, 11(3), 235–247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Scarpino, M.R. (2008). Young media-induced travelers: online representations of media-induced travel conversations. Master Thesis, Texas A&M University.Google Scholar
  48. Scheyvens, R. (2007). Exploring the tourism-poverty nexus. Current Issues in Tourism, 10(2–3), 231–254.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Schillaci, S. (2012). Johnny Depp, ‘The Dark Knight,’ ‘Lost’ Named to IMDb’s Top 10 of the Last Decade, Retrieved from
  50. Shao, J., & Gretzel, U. (2009, October). Online empathy response to a Chinese popular TV series: Implications for film-induced tourism. In Proceedings of the 2009 Annual International Society of Travel and Tourism Educators (ISTTE) Conference (pp. 224–235).Google Scholar
  51. Shao, J., Scarpino, M., Lee, Y., & Gretzel, U. (2011). Media-induced voluntourism in Yunnan, China. Tourism Review International, 15(3), 277–292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Shao, J., Li, X., Morrison, A. M., & Wu, B. (2016). Social media micro-film marketing by Chinese destinations: The case of Shaoxing. Tourism Management, 54, 439–451.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Sin, H. L. (2009). Volunteer tourism—“involve me and I will learn”? Annals of Tourism Research, 36(3), 480–501.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Singh, K., & Best, G.(2004). Film-induced tourism: Motivations of visitors to the Hobbiton movie set as featured in the Lord of the Rings. In International tourism and media conference proceedings (Vol. 24, pp. 98–111). Tourism Research Unit, Monash University: Melbourne, Australia.Google Scholar
  55. Spiggle, S. (1994). Analysis and interpretation of qualitative data in consumer research. Journal of Consumer Research, 21(3), 491–503.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Stoddart, H., & Rogerson, C. M. (2004). Volunteer tourism: The case of habitat for humanity South Africa. GeoJournal, 60(3), 311–318.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Strauss, A., & Corbin, J. (1998). Basics of qualitative research: Techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  58. Taylor, S. J., & Bogdan, R. (1984). Introduction to qualitative research methods: The search for meaning (2nd ed.). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  59. Uriely, N., Reichel, A., & Ron, A. (2003). Volunteering in tourism: Additional thinking. Tourism Recreation Research, 28(3), 57–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Wearing, S. L. (2003). Volunteer tourism. Tourism Recreation Research, 28(3), 3–4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Wearing, S., & Deane, B. (2003). Seeking self: Leisure and tourism on common ground. World Leisure Journal, 45(1), 4–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Wearing, S., & Neil, J. (2001). Expanding sustainable tourism’s conceptualization: Ecotourism, volunteerism and serious leisure. In S. F. McCool & R. N. Moisey (Eds.), Tourism, recreation and sustainability: Linking culture and the environment (pp. 233–254). Wallingford: CABI Publishing.Google Scholar
  63. Wong, J. Y., & Lai, T. C. (2015). Celebrity attachment and behavioral intentions: The mediating role of place attachment. International Journal of Tourism Research, 17(2), 161–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Wu, M. Y., & Pearce, P. L. (2014). Chinese recreational vehicle users in Australia: A netnographic study of tourist motivation. Tourism Management, 43, 22–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Landscape ArchitectureBeijing Forestry UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.Annenberg School of Communication and JournalismUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

Personalised recommendations