The concept of Orientalism has served to define post-colonial thinking, reflecting the West's interpretation of non-Western individuals and cultures. In this binary set, the West/us is approached as representing the standard, while the East/them represents that which is outside the norm. For the last few decades, Orientalism has continued to influence discussions in tourism studies; nevertheless, there is a dearth of empirical studies examining how the discourse lives out in daily tourism practices. Therefore, employing quantitative research methods, this study explores what Orientalism means to contemporary Americans and how it affects their attitudes toward Asian destinations. The result indicates that the imaginary construct of the East has reflected three different dimensions, namely contempt, curiosity, and fear, through which the Western world has traditionally framed the non-Western world; however, Americans generally believe that contemporary Asia cannot be adequately explained in these traditional and fixed ways. This study suggests that two terms, Asia and the East, connote very different meanings in contemporary American society, revealing how the traditional discourse of Orientalism is transformed and reinterpreted, although not totally changed, within the changing nature of the contemporary global environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-181
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Tourism and Cultural Change
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 3 2015


  • Amazon Mechanical Turk
  • Asia
  • Orientalism
  • post-colonialism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Transportation
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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