Tourists’ shifting perceptions of UNESCO heritage sites: lessons from Jeju Island-South Korea

Kun Kim, Ounjoung Park, Jacob Barr, Haejung Yun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this research is to analyze the shifting perceptions of international tourists to Jeju Island and provide practical lessons to the tourism industry. Specifically, in regard to three United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) natural World Heritage sites in Jeju, this research measures the most salient topics mentioned by tourists to inform a more accurate perception of the island’s most valuable natural assets as reported by tourism experiences. Design/methodology/approach: This study used a Web crawler to gather over 1,500 English language reviews from international tourists from a famous travel information website. The collected data were then preprocessed for stemming and lemmatization. After this, the processed text data were analyzed through a latent Dirichlet allocation (LDA)-based topic modeling approach to identify the most prominent clusters of ideas mentioned and represent them visually through graphs, tables and charts. Findings: The findings from this research suggest that there are ten identifiable topics. Topics focusing on “adventure,” “summits” and “winter” showed noticeable increases, whereas topics focusing on “sunrise peak” and “UNESCO” have decreased over time. There is a trend for international tourists to be ever more conscious of the adventurous and rugged aspects of Jeju, and the novelty of mentioning UNESCO status seems to have worn off. Furthermore, there is the proclivity for tourists to mention “worth” and “enjoy” more as time goes on. Originality/value: This study applies LDA-based topic modeling and LDAvis using user-generated online reviews with time-series analyses. Consequently, it provides unique insights into the changing perceptions of ecotourism on Jeju today, as well as contribution to smart tourism fields.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-29
Number of pages10
JournalTourism Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - 31 Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited.


  • Jeju Island
  • Smart tourism
  • Text mining
  • Time-series analysis
  • Topic modeling
  • User-generated content (UGC)


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