In the eyes of the beholder: The effect of the perceived authenticity of sanfang qixiang in Fuzhou, China, among locals and domestic tourists

Gyehee Lee, Xiao Lin, Yunseon Choe, Wenya Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Many historic and cultural heritage destinations have faced queries about authentic travel experiences and crises of commoditization related to tourism products. This study is based on the dyadic function of heritage destinations for both locals and domestic tourists: heritage as a spatial-temporal object for tourists, using authenticity as a theoretical framework. It examined the (1) effects of cultural motivations and prior knowledge on both object-based and existential authenticities, (2) effects of authenticity on destination experiences, and (3) moderating role of residential status on the relationship between authenticity and destination experience. The data were collected from 173 locals and 159 domestic tourists on site in the Sanfang Qixiang tourist district and analyzed using the SEM technique. The results indicated that cultural motivation and prior knowledge had significant effects on authenticity; however, only existential authenticity enhanced the destination experience, whereas object-based authenticity did not have an effect on the destination experience. In addition, residential status had a key moderating function in the relationship between the perception of authenticity and the destination experience. This study contributes to the literature by integrating the mutual gaze into heritage tourism literature and emphasizing the importance of a balance between authenticity and commoditization in heritage destination development in Asia. The findings hold some practical implications for the development of balanced management strategies to minimize potential conflicts and maximize user satisfaction with heritage tourism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number12353
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number22
StatePublished - Nov 1 2021


  • Authenticity
  • Commoditization
  • Cultural motivation
  • Heritage tourism
  • Locals and tourists
  • Mutual gaze
  • Prior knowledge
  • Tourist experience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Building and Construction
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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