Vulnerable populations with psychological disorders in tourism: Methodological challenges and recommended solutions for empirical research
School of Business and Law / Centre for Precision Health
National Natural Science Foundation of China  / Shanghai Pujiang Program [22PJC020] / European Commission Horizon 2020 [779238-PRODEMOS]
Vulnerable groups, including travel-eligible tourists with medical conditions (e.g., early- and mid-stage dementia), represent an emerging niche market in the tourism industry that has been largely overlooked in the tourism literature. By identifying and addressing the challenges of conducting empirical research for this population, unreliable and misrepresentative data (and resulting imprudent recommendations) can be avoided. Given that tourism-based interventions may provide a new avenue for patient-oriented treatments, rigorous methodological guidelines are needed to advance knowledge in this interdisciplinary area. This paper provides insights into the potential challenges of empirical research involving tourists with psychological disorders. Collecting primary data from target participants requires preparation and deliberate contemplation when identifying and recruiting travel-eligible tourists. Solutions such as clear recruitment criteria, randomized controlled trials, and integrated health research approaches are recommended. Resultant studies on exposure and outcomes can inform tourism management and marketing strategies regarding these populations.