The Impact of the SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic on Tourists’ Personal Prestige: An Experimental Study

Friedericke Kuhn*, Florian Kock, Martin Lohmann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic has drastically affected the public discourse on tourism in news reporting and on social media, potentially changing social perceptions of travel and its utility for conspicuous consumption. Prestige enhancement is a common tourist motivation, yet, as tourists have been portrayed as irresponsible and even dangerous during the pandemic, the benefits of travel for personal prestige may have been affected. The purpose of this study is to monitor changes in tourists’ personal prestige during the early pandemic in 2020.
The authors developed an innovative study design implicitly measuring the personal prestige of tourists shown on experimentally manipulated social media posts. Three measurement waves were issued to compare the personal prestige of tourists just before, during and after the first lockdown situation in Germany.
Differences regarding evaluations of tourists’ prestige were found for prestige dimensions of hedonism, achievements, wealth and power, suggesting that prestige ascription to tourists has been affected by the changing discourse on leisure travel.
This study contributes to the discussion of the socio-psychological effects of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic on customer benefits of leisure travel. It exposes possible impacts of the pandemic on tourisms’ value for conspicuous consumption and prestige enhancement.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)238-258
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

Published online: 11 October 2021.


  • Pandemic
  • Covid-19
  • Prestige enhancement
  • Social effects
  • Tourism discourse

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