Cultural tourism has received increasing attention. Tourists play a crucial role in constructing rewarding intercultural experiences and cultural understanding. The current study explored the concept of tourists' cultural competence from a cosmopolitan perspective and proposed a framework for understanding the mechanism of tourists' interactions with cultural experience environment. A total of 33 participants were interviewed and data were analyzed using grounded theory. Cultural openness, understanding, consciousness, and participation were identified as elements of tourists' cultural competence, which can facilitate positive cultural behavior. This research contributes to the literature of cosmopolitanism and tourists’ cultural behavior. Managerial implications for tourist management and education are also discussed.
The tourism industry is one of the most rapidly growing industries globally (Mbaiwa & Sakuze, 2009). However, its sustainability is at risk from multiple shocks that threaten resident livelihoods and cultural values (Ponting & O’Brien, 2014; Zhang, Fan, Tse, & King, 2017). Tourism, as a social phenomenon, is a series of processes, activities, and results derived from the interactions between tourists, operators, governments, local communities, and the surrounding environment (Goeldner & Ritchie, 2009). It causes socio-cultural changes to host societies, including changes in value systems, traditional lifestyles, relationships, individual behaviors, and community structures (Ratz, 2002). Therefore, the relationship between tourism factors and local development is a crucial social and cultural concern (Cohen, 1972). Regarding the threat that the Taiwanese aboriginal “Harvest Festival” might be an event only for tourist entertainment, Taiwanese aboriginal singer Chang Chen-Yue had publicly expressed his concerns: “Harvest Festival is an extremely important part of cultural heritage, not just a tourist activity. The government does not emphasize ‘respecting the culture; ’ it only cares about tourism. Sorry that we dance for our ancestors and elders; we do not dance for tourists, so we only welcome tourists with a heart of respect!” (CNA NEWS, 2014). This reflects the commercialization of Harvest Festival. The aboriginal “sacrificial” meaning and “taboo” considerations have been ignored, leaving only the image of singing, dancing, and drinking. Another example is Bali, an Indonesian island that has gained massive popularity as an international destination. This island is also known as the “island of 1000 temples” and religion plays an important role in the local life. In 2016, a tourist wearing bikini performed a downward dog yoga position for pictures in front of a Balinese temple. In 2017, a tourist took a picture of herself posing seductively in front of Bali’s Mount Agung volcano. In 2018, a tourist sat on the Linggih Padmasana shrine at Puhur Lutur Batukaru temple and provoked the criticism on social media. Due to the increasing amount of disrespectful behaviors from the tourists, in 2018, Bali authorities have pledged to make new rules for visiting temples and to stop disrespectful behaviors of tourists. “The temples need to be reserved since they are the spirits of Bali’s cultures and customs”; “We are too open with tourists, so too many come. The quality of tourists is now different from before” said by the deputy governor of Bali (Coconuts Bali, 2018; MailOnline, 2018). These news indicate that interactions among different societies naturally occur, thus increasing the contacts among different cultures (Fennell, 2006; Henderson, 2003). Tourists lacking cultural competence could offend local culture and cause negative cultural impacts.