Reconceptualizing Tourists’ Extraordinary Experiences

Sandhiya Goolaup, Robin Nunkoo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Research that conceptualizes tourist extraordinary experiences both from the structural and anti-structural perspective is limited in the tourism literature. The purpose of this research is to develop a new theoretical perspective that re-conceptualizes our understanding of tourists’ extraordinary experience by taking into consideration both the structural and anti-structural elements of an experience. It draws on phenomenological interviews with 26 food tourists. The study finds that extraordinary experience consists of elements such as profaneness, collaborative interactions and conflict-easing, which represent both the structural and anti-structural elements. The findings of this study allow us to question whether extraordinary experience is purely structural or anti-structural as suggested by previous research. Rather, based on the findings, we argue that extraordinary experience is the positive co-existence of both the ordinary and the non-ordinary. As a result, we use the term “synstructure” to conceptualize the tourist extraordinary experience.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Travel Research
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)399-411
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Published online: December 29, 2021.


  • Extraordinary experience
  • Structure
  • Anti-structure
  • Tourist experience
  • Phenomenology

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