Academic journal article Journal of Tourism Challenges and Trends

Measurement of Tourism-Oriented Aspects of Quality of Life

Academic journal article Journal of Tourism Challenges and Trends

Measurement of Tourism-Oriented Aspects of Quality of Life

Article excerpt

Introduction

The concept of quality of life--in our understanding: happiness--has been a subject of thinking since millennia past (Aristotle 1997). In spite of this, scientific research of the topic only started in the second half of the twentieth century (Fekete 2006). Although we may find references to the responsibility of politics in Aristotle's Ethics of Nicomachus, it was not before the 1960s that the improvement of the quality of life of any society being the duty of wielders of power became political evidence (Kopp & Skrabski 2008). Post-industrial societies gradually recognized that it was not enough to ensure access to goods (guaranteeing consumption and level of subsistence), it is essential that the citizens are able to live their everyday life in a positive way (Royo 2007). Satisfaction with one's life is crucial, since the negative mental state of those who are dissatisfied--who are experiencing a deep gulf between their actual and expected living conditions--may lead to a deterioration of their physical health (Kopp & Piko 2006). The overall social consequence of the resulting illness (loss of productivity, replacement, medication, etc.) will be a heavy burden imposed on state, local government- and household budget. It is no coincidence that research in Hungary related to quality of life almost invariably focuses on health-oriented issues (Kopp & Kovacs 2006). No matter if it is mental or physical health that is examined, its status will be affected by whether leisure time is spent traveling: levels of mental and physical health are affected indirectly by leaving the everyday paths of movement behind. Utilising the ever-increasing range of offers of medical tourism can contribute directly to preserving, even restoring mental and physical fitness levels (Richards 1999, Neal et al. 2007).

Since the relationship between tourism and quality of life has been explored and confirmed by a number of earlier studies (such as Richards 1999; Jurowski and Brown 2001; Gilbert and Abdullah 2002; Michalko et al. 2009), the authors decided to make an attempt, within the framework of a three-year research project investigating the complex relationship of tourism and quality of life, to develop an index based on quantitative data currently available in the Hungarian statistical system, which can be used to measure the impact of a person's involvement in (or exclusion from) tourism on their quality of life. Given the government demand, as set out in the current Hungarian National Tourism Strategy (2005), for optimization of the impact of tourism on quality of life (especially in relation to society, cultural heritage and natural environment), the statistical assessment of changes is considered desirable, even on the municipal level.

This study offers a short summary of the theoretical and methodological literature discussing the relationship of quality of life and tourism. The authors explore the methodological foundations of selected definitions, thereby producing the set of indicators which, by fitting into the framework of social indicator systems, are capable of measuring the relationship between tourism and quality of life. This set of indicators will later provide the basis for the index measuring the relationship between tourism and quality of life.

As indicated above, a close link is evident between quality of life and health (Kopp & Piko 2006; Smith & Puczko 2008). In order to assess the added value of tourism to this relationship, the study examines aspects of quality of life in the population of settlements that are involved in spa and health tourism in Hungary.

The relationship between tourism, welfare and well-being

In recent years, there has been an increase of interest in international tourism research concerning the relationship between tourism and happiness, well-being and quality of life--different researchers using slightly different terms and concepts, but exploring a very similar set of issues (e. …

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