Meanings of Tourist Souvenirs: From the Holiday Experience to Everyday Life

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Even though research on tourist souvenirs is quite extensive, it fails to provide a holistic and in-depth perspective on their meanings and their evolution in time and space. Through a symbolic interactionist perspective, the current research aims at filling this gap. We conducted a longitudinal study combining interviews, projective techniques, and observations. Our findings provide a holistic and dynamic approach to tourist souvenirs’ meanings by emphasizing their temporal and spatial evolution through three processes. First, we suggest that decontextualization effects and the negative perceptions of some souvenirs may prevent them from entering home. Second, we consider the spatiality of souvenirs within different home areas depending on the meanings they hold for their owners. We also show that the souvenirs’ meaningfulness can also be reactivated over time. Third, we emphasize ways meaningless souvenirs may leave the home sphere. Finally, we discuss managerial suggestions and propose avenues of future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)718-734
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Travel Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • longitudinal study
  • meanings
  • spatiality
  • symbolic interactionism
  • tourist souvenirs


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