Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2020, Vol. 75 ›› Issue (4): 860-877.doi: 10.11821/dlxb202004014

• Transportation and Cultural Tourism • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Exploring the essence of distance: A framework of distance desire and tourist destination choice

CAO Jingjing1,2, ZHANG Jinhe1(), WANG Chang1, SUN Jinkun1, CHEN Min1   

  1. 1. School of Geography and Ocean Science, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210023, China
    2. School of Biology and Geography, Yili Normal University, Yining 835000, Xinjiang, China
  • Received:2018-06-07 Revised:2019-08-31 Online:2020-04-25 Published:2020-06-25
  • Contact: ZHANG Jinhe
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(41771147)


Distance is an important factor influencing all kinds of human spatial behavior and is also a major variable in exploring the laws of human behavior. However, the existing tourist destination decision model treats distance as a constraint condition, comprehensively discussing the frictional effect while ignoring the impacts of the catalytic effect of distance. This has led to a lack of theoretical and marketing practices. This study proposes the concept of distance desire to express the catalytic effect of distance. Based on its basic attribute of aesthetic emotion, the concept is subdivided into three dimensions: the cognitive dimension, the emotional dimension, and the travel motivation dimension. According to the characteristics of tourists' aesthetic demands, distance desire has been divided into three levels from the perspective of the modern aesthetic view, including the distance desire of game, distance desire of fashion and distance desire of adventure. The study further points out that distance desire is a tourist's interpretation of the meaning of distance. The development of distance desire provides a new explanation for tourist's motivation to travel. The pursuit of the poetic "far-away" by tourists is the essential pursuit of human beings to surpass themselves and is also an aesthetic salvation of individual resistance to alienation in a rapidly developing fluid society. Distance desire also provides a new perspective for understanding the essence of tourism. The aesthetic experience of the distance brought by tourism activities can satisfy the tourists' spiritual pursuit of harmony (differentiating the divisions caused by daily life), tolerance (differentiating respect and recognition) and independence (free construction of personality). Tourism is a form of aesthetic experience, during which tourists participate in constructing and reshaping their psychological structure, thus encouraging them to return to the real world and to reshape it within a harmonious, tolerant and independent aesthetic realm, thereby enhancing the quality of life of tourists individually and of humanity as a whole. By further discussing the relationship between distance desire and other behavioral variables, the basic interpretation framework of distance and tourist destination choice is eventually provided in this study. An in-depth study of distance desire can provide new explanations for the analysis of the tourist motivations in the era of globalization, provide new clues for the interpretation of the essence of tourism, provide a new understanding of the law of distance decay in tourist destination choice from a micro-individual perspective, provide possible theoretical explanations for a more comprehensive understanding of the distance dynamics in tourists' destination choices, provide the possibility to further improve and enhance the explanatory power and the predictability of the tourist destination decision model, and provide destination marketing organizations (DMOs) new ideas to develop targeted marketing strategies concerning cognitive distance.

Key words: tourist destination choice, cognitive distance, catalytic effect of distance, distance desire, essence of distance