Beyond a Trip to the Seaside? Emotional connections, family tourism and psycho-social wellbeing

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This paper draws together ideas from wellbeing tourism, ecopsychology and geography, to examine how holidays by the sea enable families to perform and create emotional connections to the coastal environment and with each other. Although an obvious tourism segment, little research has been conducted on how families engage and perform on an emotional level, while on holiday. The sea is presented as an agent for family wellbeing and as a repository for emotional connectedness. A case study of Brighton in the UK assesses family holiday making in a traditional British seaside resort. Primary research findings elicit motivations and emotional impacts around the desire to go on family trips to the sea, the effects on family bonding, wellbeing and the legacy of memory making. Conceptually, the research uses multiple theories; ‘Place identity’ - where a place has symbolic importance as a repository for emotions and relationships that give meaning to human life. From the field of environmental psychology, the concept of environmental connectedness emphasises the emotionally transformative power of nature experiences. The work also shows how emotional connections with the natural environment can be explained through the concept of ‘lived space’, i.e. the relationships between people and setting that are generated in place, and the emotions that thus emerge through participation in or inhabitation of the (coastal) world. (Kearns and Collins, 2012). Furthermore, concepts of existential and inter-personal authenticity inform family tourism relations in a variety of human-landscape interactions, emotions and experiences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages21
JournalTourism Geographies
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jul 2020


  • family tourism
  • coastal tourism
  • emotional connections
  • family wellbeing
  • wellbeing
  • seaside
  • gender roles


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