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Article

Broken but Well: Healing Dimensions of Cultural Tourism Experiences

1
Institute for Development and International Relations 1, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia
2
Department of Tourism, Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Zagreb, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2021, 13(2), 966; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13020966
Submission received: 29 December 2020 / Revised: 15 January 2021 / Accepted: 18 January 2021 / Published: 19 January 2021
(This article belongs to the Collection Sustainable Health Tourism)

Abstract

:
Wellbeing has been researched in relation to social, wellness, rural, backpacker, senior, wildlife, transformational or transformative tourism or studies exist specifically focusing on wellbeing tourism. Surprisingly enough, there is a void of research focus on wellbeing in cultural tourism, although culture has been considered as having a substantial impact on wellbeing. The research uses the case study of the Museum of Broken Relationships (MBR) in Zagreb, Croatia, under the assumption that MBR experiences have a relevant influence on tourists’ subjective wellbeing. Subjective wellbeing was measured after the visitation using the Short Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (SWEMWBS) and a majority of the respondents experienced moderate to high wellbeing. Furthermore, the research aimed to investigate whether or not there is any difference between cultural and non-cultural tourists’ subjective wellbeing noted after the visitation to the Museum. The results showed that there was no substantial difference between cultural and non-cultural tourists’ subjective wellbeing.

1. Introduction

Today’s lifestyle is often characterized by high-stress environments, primarily work-related, but also while trying to find a balance between family life and work. Many people feel chronic stress and are overworked, which often results in illness, bad relationships, dissatisfaction with, and poor quality of life in general. As a response to the all-pervading consequences of postmodern society, a rising body of studies focusing on different wellbeing programs emerged (e.g., [1,2]) and tourism studies are no exception to that. Not only has an increase in demand for different wellbeing services in practice been recorded in the last decade [3] but also in the number of studies dealing with the relationship between wellbeing and specific types of tourism products. Wellbeing has thus been researched in relation to social tourism [4], wellness tourism [5], rural tourism [6], backpacker tourism [7], senior tourism [8], and wildlife tourism [9]. There are also studies specifically focusing on wellbeing tourism [10], transformational [11] or transformative tourism [12,13].
Shifts from mass tourism often result in special interest tourism activities, which are in line with the ever more demanding tourists, their motivation and search for individual programs.
The contemporary consumer is in search for products and services which correspond to his/her specific requirements [14], this being reflected in tourism programs specifically designed for individuals or exceedingly small groups of people. These programs offer individual authentic experiences and, consequently, a person can achieve self-actualization [14]. Tourism niches particularly corresponding to this trend are creative and experiential tourism. Creative tourism, being a subset of cultural tourism, offers direct participation in creative activities (e.g., drawing and painting, crafts making, dancing, creative writing, film or music making) which increases the odds for emotional responses to the activity and positively affects human health. Furthermore, the last two decades witnessed an increase in demand for tourism experiences. Not only does their supply provide a competitive advantage in an intensely competitive tourism arena [15], but they often also offer emotional satisfaction for the consumer [16]. The key pillars of these two concepts—participation and emotional satisfaction—are directly correlated to wellbeing.
The concept of wellbeing relates to both subjective and objective wellbeing. The former is primarily about “emotions, judgements and experiences” [17] (p. 7), while the latter relies on objective components such as income, education, health, environmental quality etc. In relation to subjective wellbeing, “arts and culture are sectors which inherently deal with emotions” [18] (p. 44) and the quality of an experience for a consumer can be measured by way of its efficacy in spurring his or her emotions [19]. Although studies are available which analyze relations between arts and emotions, e.g., [20,21], surprisingly, there is a knowledge gap on the topic of subjective wellbeing in cultural tourism. Cultural tourism is broadly defined as a concept of the movement of persons outside their usual environment who are motivated to visit cultural tourism attractions, with the aim of satisfying their cultural needs through gathering information and experiences. It entails visits to a diversity of cultural attractions, both tangible and intangible, with museums often being predominantly visited ones. [22]. Additionally, common characteristics of cultural tourists are: special interests, higher education levels, higher purchasing power and, accordingly, higher spending levels. Although they can be part of organized travel arrangements, such persons are mostly individuals, demonstrating tendencies towards do-it-yourself programs, largely depending on online bookings. Experience and active holidays, education and novelty are the main characteristics of tourism programs they seek.
Emotional responses, which are often achieved by direct visitor participation, prove to be important components of a successful cultural tourism product. Such cultural tourism products represent the direct outcome of the sensory stimulation as one of the main experience design principles. Additionally, subjective wellbeing refers to emotions and experiences too. Such cultural tourism products, with museums being an appropriate setting for staging experiences, potentially provide a solid basis for creating subjective wellbeing.
This paper is indented to add to the growing body of knowledge on subjective wellbeing in tourism and generate a new body of knowledge on subjective wellbeing in cultural tourism by measuring tourists’ subjective wellbeing after visiting a museum exhibition which represents a specifically designed, experience-based cultural tourism product. Furthermore, the study highlights the connection between this type of cultural tourism product and subjective wellbeing and as such represents a steppingstone for further research on the subject. The effects which specifically designed cultural tourism products have on visitors’ subjective wellbeing regardless of their tourism typology (cultural tourists or tourists in general) is what this study contributes. More precisely, no substantial difference between cultural and non-cultural tourists’ subjective wellbeing was noted after the visit to the museum.

2. Theoretical Background

Due to a lack of cultural tourism studies on subjective wellbeing which would serve as a theoretical background for this study, other than two site-specific studies [18,23], available knowledge from different related areas was drawn upon, namely tourism, culture, art therapy, psychology, experience economy and management studies.

2.1. Subjective and Objective Wellbeing and Cultural Tourism

There are different notions, scales and models of wellbeing in the field of psychology literature, such as Bradburn’s hedonic balance model [24], Diener’s tripartite model [25], Ryff’s model of psychological wellbeing [26] or the PERMA model [27], and no unanimous agreement on the concept exists. Therefore, wellbeing is a rather difficult subject to clearly conceive and consequently measure. Rather than trying to provide a clear distinction between the different models, an explanation of subjective and objective wellbeing is provided as the basis for this study.
Subjective wellbeing refers to how people feel, function, and evaluate their life along with feelings of happiness, satisfaction, autonomy, and purpose in life [17]. Such a state of mind can best be described with feelings of optimism about the future, usefulness, relaxation, clarity of mind, closeness to other people, and being able to make up one’s mind about things in life [17]. These subjective indicators may be a predictor of objective wellbeing which is usually measured by indicators such as life expectancy, income, health, environmental quality, education, security, transportation, economic growth, public services etc. These indicators have commonly been used in studies of economic performance and quality of life surveys, resulting in country or city rankings. In addition, subjective wellbeing can be related to a social environment. However, it is important to distinguish between the notion of wellbeing and conditions that stimulate or induce it [17] (p. 6). For example, substantial economic prosperity may cause one’s life to be stable but does not necessarily mean that a person is well. Tourism is often associated with relaxation time and can therefore have an important role in mood enhancement [18,19]. If paired with pleasurable external drivers in terms of tourism offerings, it may have a strong influence on tourists’ feelings, which can in turn provide a firm basis for hedonic wellbeing. Travel itself can be perceived both as an escape from the daily routine [28] and as an activity in pursuit of happiness providing the capacity for increasing quality of life and satisfaction [29]. The effects of vacations can be measured even after the travel itself since they “produce positive effects in people’s lives” [30].
Several tourism studies, e.g., [29,31,32,33,34,35], have so far researched happiness as one of the elements of subjective wellbeing. No unanimous results from these studies can be reported with regard to tourism as a generator of happiness and the reasons may be twofold: firstly, happiness only represents one element of subjective wellbeing and cannot be separated from other indicators of subjective wellbeing and, secondly, subjective wellbeing should be measured over an extended period of time rather than during vacations only. There are studies, though, e.g., [5,33], which report long-lasting effects of vacations on tourists when they provide memorable experiences. Although emotions are short-lived, they can affect memory and eventually become correlated to subjective wellbeing.
Furthermore, some tourism studies, e.g., [4,33,36], focus on subjective wellbeing. According to Filep [32], subjective wellbeing is not dependent solely on pleasurable feelings. It relates to the direct tourist engagement, feelings of tranquility, full focus on the visited attraction, possible challenges faced, and the meaning tourists derive from the attraction. Although the mere activity of sightseeing may evoke pleasure, engaging tourism activities which include participation or co-creation are more likely to stimulate emotions which in turn may increase tourists’ subjective wellbeing.
Engagement, focus, challenges, and meaning are inherent to artistic and cultural activities. There are studies which have demonstrated benefits of mere consumption of culture for human wellbeing [37,38,39,40,41]. Subjective wellbeing has thus been reported in the connection with the consumption of jazz or classical music concerts, opera or ballet, while participation “in the arts and experiencing culture on a somewhat regular basis can have physical, mental and social effects” [37]. Wheatley and Bickerton [42] proved both that regular engagement in arts activities has positive effects on well-being and that even less frequent visitation of museums/historical sites is positively correlated with satisfaction. It is, however, highly likely that different physical and mental benefits increase if the person is directly involved and participates in the activity since the act of creation itself supports creation of meaning, stirs emotions and transforms experience [43]. Unlike mere consumption, it builds “new [neural, added by the authors] networks through imaging, patterning, somatic sensory cues, touch, and movement” [44] (p. 159). Therefore, such engagement has a true effect on the brain—neural networks witness a transformation which may eventually lead to a state of subjective wellbeing. Specific positive effects of arts engagement have been found on life, leisure, and health satisfaction [45].
Consumption of cultural activities is usually done via one or two senses; in reality, however, the senses “collaborate closely to enable the mind to better understand its surroundings” [46]. The synesthetic experience “which comes as a result of merging the sensations increases the odds for emotional engagement” [19] (p. 12). A prerequisite for consumers’ emotional engagement in cultural activity is the provision of meaning by the activity itself, which may eventually lead to a transformation of their brains. Therefore, meaningful experiences may be causally related to subjective wellbeing.
Since engagement of individual visitors in participative activities, which provide both meaning and emotional responses, is often inherent to both tourism and culture, cultural tourism in particular tends to bring about wellbeing effects on its consumers. However, not all types of attractions have the same potential to qualify for this. It largely depends on the intensity of the experience and its potential to create meaning.

2.2. Tourism Experience Design and Wellbeing

In the last two decades, the business world has been greatly influenced by experiences. Pine and Gilmore [47], considered to be the fathers of the experience economy, see it as the final stage in the progression of economic value, after the stages of commodities, goods, and services. Experiences are also inherent to various touristscapes, such as cruise tourism [48]; music festivals and museum experiences [49]; bed-and-breakfast industry [50]; film festival visitors [51]; and battlefield visitors [52]. “Pine and Gilmore’s principles have been applied in tourist experience creation and assessment, especially in the context of heritage attractions [53]—more specifically, museums [23]—and linked to value-creation in heritage tourism experiences [54,55]” [56] (p. 47).
The importance of experience is reflected in consumer’s psychological satisfaction which has intangible values and therefore points towards their individuality; experiences depend on the individual perception by the consumer and may directly affect subjective wellbeing. The type of the experience may greatly affect the intensity of the consumer’s involvement in it. Pine and Gilmore’s four realms of experience differ in consumers’ connection with it, as well as in the form of their participation [23]: entertainment experience (e.g., watching a movie) entails passive participation and absorption; educational experience (e.g., participating in a clay object-making workshop) entails active participation and absorption; aesthetic experience (e.g., visiting an art gallery) entails passive participation and immersion; and escapist experience (e.g., participating in a theatre play) entails active participation and immersion. Although all types or realms provide some kind of experience to the consumer, not all of them have the same likelihood of triggering an emotional response, even though it is possible. Being immersed in an activity and directly participating in it at the same time increases the probability of emotional engagement, which most likely influences memory and can affect wellbeing in the long term.
This is consistent with the changing dynamics of the economy, which shifts its focus on the consumer’s involvement in the co-creation of experiences [57]. Co-creation is not reflected only in individual experiences. It also affects the organizational behavior of institutions or organizations in participatory approaches to their management, e.g., [58,59], which is evident both in culture, e.g., [15,60], and in tourism [61]. Co-creation of experiences is likewise reflected in museum exhibitions which employ participation and engagement of their audiences. Furthermore, the concept of participatory experience tourism (PET) has been put forward as “tourism involving a process of adding value to an experience through active participation by the tourist” [62] (p. 60). Engagement may be physical, entailing participation in a concrete activity (e.g., olive picking), but may also include mental or emotional engagement (e.g., interaction with the locals). The latter has been discussed in the context of the tourist emotional engagement (TEE) concept, defined as the “emotional engagement of tourists towards individual cultural attractions” [18] (p. 51) which finally provides added value to the consumer.
Pine and Gilmore’s basic principle in experience design is theming. It allows a consumer to identify with the subject with more ease [23], which means that the brain recognizes a clearly organized structure. However, in order to engage the consumer, experiences must provide something new and extraordinary to create interest. If interest is created and the consumer participates directly, he/she will attain a stronger focus and it will be easier to attribute meaning to the attraction.
A summary of the aforementioned studies, emerged from different research areas with a focus on key factors, and their potential relationships with subjective wellbeing is presented in Table 1.
The studies have showed that specific experience design principles are mutually interwoven and may affect subjective wellbeing. Therefore, the experience design principles and wellbeing dimensions have been systemized and presented in Table 2.

3. Materials and Methods

3.1. The Research Context—The Museum of Broken Relationships

Emotions being one of the principal determinants of subjective wellbeing and provoked by the specifically themed exhibition warranted our choice of the Museum of Broken Relationships (MBR) to serve as a case study. The MBR is an uncommon, unconventional and innovative, privately-owned museum located in the upper town of the city of Zagreb, Croatia. Its first franchise was opened in Los Angeles in 2016 [63]. It is dedicated to failed relationships and its concept is focused on universal experiences of love and loss shared by people all over the world. It consists of a permanent exhibition based on donated items and stories, travelling exhibitions and a virtual web museum. The permanent exhibition exposes items and corresponding stories combining the use of three senses being sight, hearing, and touch. The museum received the Kenneth Hudson Award for Europe’s most innovative museum in 2011 [18]. The MBR has a constantly growing collection of items offering people a chance to overcome an emotional breakdown through creativity—by contributing to its universal collection [63,64]. The MBR is focused on a specific emotionally charged theme which engages visitors. Participation and co-creation are employed both in creating the exhibition as well as in its mere consumption. Visitors can contribute to the exhibition by writing their own failed relationship stories in the visitor book, which gives them an opportunity for self-healing [18].
Two previous research studies based on the MBR have analyzed and confirmed, firstly, the appropriate use of Pine and Gilmore’s experience design principles [16,23] and, secondly, tourists’ emotional engagement [18]. The second study revealed that the MBR may possibly have an important role in its visitors’ wellbeing. The implications of previous studies served as a solid basis for the quantitative research conducted in this study.

3.2. The Development of Hypotheses

The assumption on which this study relies is that specific experience design principles, such as participatory activities, identification with the theme of a cultural tourist attraction, immersion, engagement, novelty and the use of the senses in presentation of such attractions, affect the emotional engagement of tourists. Moreover, such engagement contributes to the overall meaning and experience of attractions, thus having potential to influence subjective wellbeing. Whether cultural tourists are inherently prone to wellbeing effects in comparison with non-cultural tourists needed to be further tested. One would expect that cultural tourists, having higher cultural motivation, interests and knowledge, would be more engaged in cultural attractions than other types of tourists, thus possibly showing higher subjective wellbeing. However, Brida, Dalle Nogare and Scuderi argued that “occasional visitors are a non-negligible segment of the museum audience” [65] (p. 281), assuming that their motivation for visiting museums should not be disregarded. This provided grounds for testing possible differences in experiencing subjective wellbeing by cultural and non-cultural tourists, which was the main purpose of the study. The hypotheses are:
Hypothesis 1 (H1).
Tourists have high subjective wellbeing after visiting the MBR exhibition.
Hypothesis 2 (H2).
There is a difference in subjective wellbeing between the groups of cultural and non-cultural tourists after visiting the MBR.

3.3. Methodology and Data Collection

The study employed a quantitative research design using a questionnaire containing several statements expressing feelings and thoughts on subjective wellbeing. The data collection instrument was developed on the basis of established and validated mental wellbeing measurement scales such as the Short Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (SWEMWBS) and The UK’s Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) subjective wellbeing questions. For the purposes of this study the license for Non-Commercial Use of SWEMWBS was obtained. The SWEMWBS is a shortened version of the longer Warwick and Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (WEMWBS) [17]. SWEMWBS has been specifically designed to measure both the feeling and functioning aspects of positive mental wellbeing [17], although these seven items included in the SWEMWBS relate more to functioning than feelings. The items were slightly altered after the results of a focus group discussion. The focus group included researchers and professionals in the fields of psychology, cultural tourism management and tourism economics. SWEMWBS’s scale of seven positively worded items received an additional item, being a novelty as it relates to Pine and Gilmore’s design principles and because the content of the exhibition is unique, original and the Museum offers an innovative concept of cultural experiences. In this case, experiences of novelty may help people better deal with challenges in their life. Perceived novelty is regarded as one of the core elements of memorable experiences [66].
The original SWEMWBS’ item expressing clear thinking was expanded with past experiences because of the special connotations of the exhibition. The exhibition is about past love and loss experiences of other individuals which may lead visitors of the Museum to think more clearly of their own situations in life. ONS’ subjective wellbeing questions were also slightly altered for the purposes of measuring feelings of happiness after the exhibition and measuring satisfaction with life in general after visiting the exhibition. For the purposes of this study, SWEMWBS’ subjective wellbeing statements and ONS’ questions were answered on a 5-point Likert scale with 1 indicating complete disagreement and 5 indicating complete agreement.
Based on both SWEMWBS and ONS subjective wellbeing questions, items were systematized into the following groups and tested variables:
(1)
The group of well-functioning aspects included the sense of competence in life and the sense of being connected to other people. The sense of competence is reflected in the emotion such as feeling good and useful; and abilities such as the ability to deal with problems well; ability to make up one’s mind about things easily; ability to think clearly; and perceived novelty. Furthermore, the sense of being connected to other people is reflected in feelings of closeness to others.
(2)
The group of positive feelings included feelings of happiness, relaxation, and optimism about the future.
(3)
The evaluation of the life aspect was reflected in high satisfaction with life in general and it was represented by a single item.
The original version of the questionnaire was developed in English and then translated into Italian, German and Croatian by professional translators after consulting previously translated SWEMWBS scales which originally exist in English, Italian and German.
The data were collected over a period of 4 months, between April and July of 2019. Visitors of the MBR participated in the research. The questionnaire was distributed to tourists by trained professionals after visiting the exhibition. Given the personal nature and the sensitivity of statements, visitors were asked to complete the questionnaires themselves. A total of 537 questionnaires were collected, 521 being valid. 16 questionnaires were incomplete, which makes them invalid for statistical data evaluation. The sample size was calculated based on the size of a population of 107,503 tourists who visited the MBR in 2017, a 95% confidence level and a confidence interval of 5, amounting to 383. The sample size collected exceeded the precalculated size by 154 questionnaires.
A factor analysis using the SPSS software was performed to test the hypotheses and reliability of items. Exploratory factor analysis is used when designing and testing the scale for the first time, while confirmatory factor analysis is used where the scale has already been tested and the items of the questionnaire survey reflect the items used in available literature [67,68]. In this paper, the variables are tested by using both exploratory (principal components analysis) and confirmatory (principal axis factoring) factor analysis. Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) procedures and results are presented in the research results section as it is referenced to literature.

4. Results and Discussion

4.1. Profile of Respondents

Table 3 shows that there was an insignificant number of domestic tourists (those coming from other Croatian regions to Zagreb and staying overnight for tourism purposes) visiting the MBR, accounting for only 3.8%. Foreign tourists accounted for 96.2%. The number of female respondents (59.6%) was higher by 19.2% than male (40.4%) because female visitors represent a major visitor population of the MBR with an average of 70% throughout the years.
The respondents were categorized into six age groups: 0–20 years (13.6%), 21–30 years (42.2%), 31–40 years (17.3%), 41–50 years (8.1%), 51–60 years (7.1%) and 61 years or older (11.7%), a majority being younger than 40 years of age (73.1%). Most of the respondents were highly educated, holding a bachelor’s degree (45.7%) or an even higher level of education such as a master’s or doctoral degree (28.2%), while a small number had a high school level of education (9.6%) or some college but no degree (15.9%) and an even smaller number had less than a high school level of education (0.6%). Most of the respondents earned up to EUR 2000 per month (42.1%), while the rest earned up to EUR 3000 or more (33.5%). 24.7% of the respondents preferred not to answer this question. Among the 521 respondents, a majority of them (302) visited Zagreb for cultural tourism purposes (58.0%), while the rest stayed in Zagreb for business purposes (6.1%), VFR (2.1%), health tourism (1.0%) or holiday purposes (32.1%). Most of the respondents stayed in Zagreb for two (35.1%) or three days (30.7%).

4.2. Results

The results presented in Table 4 are based on calculations of original and validated SWEMWBS’s scale showing the level of subjective wellbeing after visiting the exhibition.
The results indicate that 90% of the respondents experienced moderate to high wellbeing, while a minority (10%) perceived low subjective wellbeing after the exhibition.
Descriptive statistics of the SWEMWBS scale are presented in Table 5.
It can be noted that the highest mean of all the items provided in Table 5 is attributed to the “I am able to think clearly about past experiences in life” (μ = 4.08), followed by the statement “I feel good and useful” (μ = 4.06). However, all the items have a mean score above 3.5, indicating a positive response from museum visitors. As the exhibition is related to other people’s challenges in life connected to the experiences of love and loss and presents the theme from many different angles, we presume that visitors find it easy to associate their personal good or bad experiences with the stories told. Moreover, that gives them an opportunity to reflect upon their own experiences with more clarity. A person habitually compares his or her life situations with others and is then able to make conclusions about how he or she feels more easily. Furthermore, as an illustration, if a visitor never experienced any significant trauma in life and is then confronted with other people’s unfortunate stories, it may provoke gratefulness for the life he or she leads, and such person may feel good about himself of herself.
To test whether cultural tourists experience higher wellbeing than all other types of tourists, the reliability of variables divided into three main groups was tested. The results of the reliability and confirmatory factor analysis are as follows (see Table 6):
  • Well-functioning
Well-functioning group consists of 6 variables or items:
  • feeling good and useful;
  • dealing with problems well;
  • thinking clearly about past experiences in life;
  • feeling closer to other people;
  • making my mind up about things easily;
  • novelties which helped better to deal with life.
The reliability of the 5-item scale ((1) feeling good and useful, (2) dealing with problems well, (3) thinking clearly about past experiences in life, (4) feeling closer to other people (5) making my mind up about things easily after the exhibition) was measured using Cronbach alpha which is 0.711. A principal components analysis for Well-functioning with varimax rotation extracted only one factor (determinant = 0.413, Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin measure = 0.770, Bartlett’s test of sphericity with 10 degrees of freedom’s p-value is 0.000; communalities: (1) good and useful = 0.509, (2) deal with problems well = 0.614, (3) think clearly = 0.477, (4) feel closer = 0.284, and (5) make up my mind = 0.475, explaining 47.19% of variance), whereby principal axis factoring without rotation was performed as a procedure for the confirmatory factor analysis. Principal axis factoring for the Well-functioning factor (determinant = 0.413, Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin measure = 0.770, Bartlett’s test of sphericity with 10 degrees of freedom’s p-value is 0.000; communalities: (1) good and useful = 0.378, (2) deal with problems well = 0.546, (3) think clearly = 0.330, (4) feel closer = 0.158, and (5) make up my mind = 0.332, explaining 34.88% of variance). The item of perceived novelty was rejected after the analyses as it was found to be unreliable.
2.
Positive feelings
Reliability: Positive feelings (optimistic, happy, and relaxed after the exhibition).
The reliability of the 3-item scale (optimistic, happy, and relaxed after the exhibition) was measured using Cronbach alpha which is 0.653. A principal components analysis for positive feelings with varimax rotation extracted only one factor (determinant = 0.663, Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin measure = 0.653, Bartlett’s test of sphericity with 3 degrees of freedom’s p-value is 0.000; communalities: optimistic = 0.559, happy = 0.629, relaxed = 0.587, explaining 59.15% of variance), whereby principal axis factoring without rotation was performed as a procedure for the confirmatory factor analysis. Principal axis factoring for the Positive feelings factor (determinant = 0.663, Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin measure = 0.653, Bartlett’s test of sphericity with 3 degrees of freedom’s p-value is 0.000; communalities: optimistic = 0.328, happy = 0.469, relaxed = 0.347, explaining 39.01% of variance).
A third group of variables reflecting high wellbeing resulted from combining the first two groups and a variable depicting high satisfaction with life after the exhibition and the reliability of the three items called “high wellbeing” were then tested.
3.
High wellbeing
Reliability: High wellbeing (positive feelings, well-functioning and high satisfaction with life after the exhibition).
The reliability of the 3-item scale (positive feelings, well-functioning and satisfaction with life after the exhibition) was measured using Cronbach alpha which is 0.748. A principal components analysis for High wellbeing with varimax rotation has only one factor (determinant = 0.473, Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin measure = 0.659, Bartlett’s test of sphericity with 3 degrees of freedom’s p-value is 0.000; communalities: positive feelings = 0.697, Well-functioning = 0.744 and satisfaction = 0.557, explaining 66.59% of variance), whereby principal axis factoring without rotation was performed as a procedure for the confirmatory factor analysis. Principal axis factoring for well-functioning factor (determinant = 0.473, Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin measure = 0.659, Bartlett’s test of sphericity with 3 degrees of freedom’s p-value is 0.000; communalities: positive feelings = 0.537, Well-functioning = 0.697 and satisfaction = 0.312, explaining 51.57% of variance).
It is obvious that, in each group of items, the principal component analysis extracted only one factor, which proves the correlation of respondents’ answers to questions across the three groups, as also confirmed by a high Cronbach alpha.
Kolmogorov-Smirnov and Shapiro-Wilk normality tests of means (p < 0.05) show that the latent variables are non-normally distributed.
The normality test provided in Table 7 depicts the normal distribution of all variables used to depict the high wellbeing of the museum visitors. Hence, they can be used in the analysis for this paper without any significant prejudice to the explanation of data meanings.
Descriptive statistics of the variables in the analysis are shown in Table 8.
Another data normality test normality is presented in the Table 8. It shows descriptive statistics for the variables used in the model. Apart from the variables presented in Table 6 above, Table 8 provides information including but not limited to gender, education, income, and length of stay.
As the variables are non-normally distributed, Spearman’s correlation coefficient was used to calculate correlation between variables, as shown in Table 9.
Table 9 shows the correlation between the variables of interest. The highest correlation coefficient is noted between the variables: high wellbeing and satisfaction (0.628), functioning well and high wellbeing (0.804), and positive feelings and high wellbeing (0.926). These correlations were expected as they portray the survey design by item. Furthermore, items such as age and high wellbeing are statistically significant but have a low correlation coefficient (0.214), as well as income and high wellbeing (0.125), while gender and education are not statistically significant. In this, case gender and education are irrelevant to subjective wellbeing after the visit to the museum although age and income have a significance in relation to subjective wellbeing. Interestingly enough, length of stay in a tourism destination and high wellbeing of museum visitors have a negative and insignificant correlation coefficient (−0.042) and the same applies to tourists who declared to be cultural tourists (−0.014). Hence, we cannot conclude that tourists declaring themselves cultural tourists obtain more wellbeing from the museum visit than non-cultural tourists. Furthermore, we could conclude that length of stay in a tourism destination has insignificant correlation to high wellbeing as the experience is not connected to the destination itself but the specific locality within the destination, being a museum.
In line with the non-normal distribution, the Levene’s variance homogeneity test (Table 10) showed that variances were homogeneous (p > 0.05).
Nonetheless, the Mann-Whitney U test was performed as a non-parametric test and its results are presented in Table 11.
Table 11 shows that cultural tourist group only experienced a higher mean in the Well-functioning aspect. As regards the Satisfaction, Positive feelings and High wellbeing after the exhibition variables, the non-cultural tourist group experienced higher average values (means).
Finally, the Mann-Whitney U test was performed on the cultural tourist group including all four variables to determine the difference between the cultural and non-cultural tourist groups in subjective wellbeing after the exhibition, with results presented in Table 12.
Table 12 shows that there are no statistically significant differences between the cultural and non-cultural tourist groups in subjective wellbeing after the exhibition in neither satisfaction (p-value = 0.145 > 0.05), Well-functioning (p-value = 0.883 > 0.05), positive feelings (p-value = 0.672 > 0.05) nor high wellbeing (p-value = 0.704 > 0.05).

5. Conclusions

Relatively recent creative and experiential turns in tourism studies are important pre-requisites for research practices on the topic of tourists’ wellbeing. All of them are put in relation to subjective wellbeing as they are all experienced individually. Outcomes of travel often relate to satisfaction, joy and happiness and the act of travel is potentially associated with higher quality of life, which is in turn reflected in objective wellbeing. Experiences are an important element of tourism travel because of direct engagement of emotions, which can eventually lead to subjective wellbeing. The following experience design cues are found to be important for that matter: individual approach to each tourist; tourists’ active participation in the attraction; selection of a clear theme of the attraction; authentic and extraordinary elements; tourists’ immersion in and focus on the attraction; ability to draw meaning from the attraction; and tourists’ sensory and emotional engagement. This group of experience design cues carries important implications as regards the management of cultural tourism attractions and provides a perfect starting point in the design of tourism experiences. Whether or not they have a long-term effect on subjective wellbeing is yet to be established.
Although cultural tourism tends to be considered particularly able to cause emotional engagement, thus having a potential impact on tourists’ subjective wellbeing, no studies attempting to demonstrate this have been conducted so far. The research performed on the case study the Museum of Broken Relationships (MBR) showed relatively high indicators of visitor wellbeing after the exhibition vis-à-vis aspects such as positive feelings, well-functioning and satisfaction with life, irrespective of their type. The only variable proven to be irrelevant was novelty. In terms of novelty and wellbeing, we could draw a conclusion that perceived novelty does not impact subjective wellbeing for either cultural or non-cultural tourists. The cultural tourists group recorded higher values in the well-functioning aspect, however, no substantial differences between cultural and non-cultural tourists’ reaction to the MBR in terms of subjective wellbeing were demonstrated. This confirmed Brida, Dalle Nogare and Scuderi’s [65] notion of non-negligibility of occasional museum visitors who equally responded to subjective wellbeing indicators. Although the MBR offers a specific emotionally charged exhibition topic which sets it in the category of unique cultural tourism attractions, the design principles it employs may also be used in other cultural tourism attractions: participatory activities, theming of a cultural tourist attraction, immersion, engagement, co-creation, sensory exhibits. They increase the probability of emotional engagement and provide meaning to visitors, which is crucial for tourists’ assessment of their subjective wellbeing. This has an important managerial implication, especially in the context of visitor management, and reveals a need for emotional and meaningful attractions, such emotion and meaning to be evoked using the aforementioned design principles. Further on, it points to a need for cultural attractions to move from static to participatory approaches to visitor management. Participatory approaches may also have a further impact on the participatory management of cultural institutions or organizations, which has already been confirmed in the case of the MBR during the stage of the initial idea for the creation of the museum by encouraging citizens to donate items to be on display in the museum. This confirms Govier’s (2010) and Meijer-van Mensch & van Mensch’s (2013) thesis that co-creation affects organizational behavior. High scores on tourist wellbeing scales may also potentially impact employees’ satisfaction, which is further to be tested.

6. Limitations and Recommendations for Future Studies

Future research could focus on visitors’ motivation to visit this type of museum, which could possibly reveal the effect of such motivation on the museum experience and possible outcomes such as wellbeing. A study found a correlation to exist between visitors’ motivation, such as self-improvement and enjoyment, and the museum experience [69].
The research was limited by a lack of pre-visit information on subjective wellbeing, making it difficult to claim that the experience has increased it. However, the research results still indicate an impact of the MBR on the respondents as it was performed immediately after the visit, making it highly likely that the experience affected their subjective wellbeing. Furthermore, possible differences in the notion of wellbeing as well as in the emotional response to similar exhibitions in the cross-cultural context should be one of the potential directions of future studies.
A further challenge in this research was time-related. Namely, subjective wellbeing refers to the state of an individual over an extended period of time, while tourism is usually consumed over a short term. Moreover, emotions which are often associated with wellbeing are short-lived, which makes the measurement of wellbeing in tourism difficult. However, good feelings during vacations may produce memorable experiences and thus affect wellbeing in the long term. To be consistent with the measurement of subjective wellbeing over an extended period, future research could be conducted to see if this type of cultural tourism experience had a long-term effect. The results of such a study could also test the transformational role of this type of cultural tourism attraction. However, practical aspects may prevent such research from being performed due to the transitional nature of tourism; once the tourists travel back to their home countries, it would be extremely difficult to engage them in longitudinal research.
As this study focused on a subjective wellbeing, future research could be expanded by explorations of how cultural tourism experiences affect objective wellbeing. It may be assumed that subjective wellbeing of tourists results in increased visitor consumption and loyalty and contributes to increased visitations. These assumed correlations could form future research directions. Furthermore, future research may be focused on measuring both pre-visit and post-visit subjective wellbeing. Additional questions which arose refer to the fact that cultural tourists had higher values in the well-functioning aspects. It would be interesting to examine the reasons why cultural tourists had better scores in this category of variables.
Finally, the use of the same experience design principles as those used in the MBR should be tested on other cultural tourism attractions staging different themes so as to identify the effect on tourists’ subjective wellbeing. As the topic of love and loss is emotionally charged, the context-specific results of this research cannot be generalized. Nevertheless, it may provide an indication of a need to introduce emotional theming of museum exhibitions, thus initiating a new strand of research in the field of cultural tourism. It may further provide specific managerial implications for the design of museum experiences.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization, D.A.J. and I.M.; methodology, I.M.; formal analysis, I.M.; investigation, I.M.; resources, D.A.J.; data curation, D.A.J. and I.M.; writing—original draft preparation, D.A.J. and I.M.; writing—review and editing, D.A.J. and I.M.; visualization, D.A.J. and I.M.; project administration, D.A.J. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.

Funding

This research received no external funding.

Institutional Review Board Statement

Ethical review and approval were waived for this study since the research was not a medical research on human subjects and did not include identifiable human material and data. It collected research participants’ opinions and attitudes.

Informed Consent Statement

Informed consent was obtained from all subjects involved in the study.

Data Availability Statement

Not applicable.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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Table 1. Factors affecting wellbeing as drawn from different research areas.
Table 1. Factors affecting wellbeing as drawn from different research areas.
Research AreaFactorsAuthor(s)
Tourismengagement, focus, meaning[32] Filep, 2014
participation, experiences[62] De Bruin & Jelinčić, 2016
Emotions[18] Jelinčić & Senkić, 2019
co-creation[57] Binkhorst & den Dekker, 2009
Culturesensory engagement[19] Jelinčić, 2019
participation[37] Grossi et al., 2011
Emotions[19] Jelinčić, 2019
Meaning[44] Kapitan 2010
Art therapysensory engagement[44] Kapitan, 2010
participation[43] Chilton et al., 2015; [44] Kapitan, 2010
Psychologysensory engagement[46] Groeger, 2012
Experience economyexperiences, participation, co-creation[16] Pine & Gilmore, 1998
Managementparticipation[58] Govier, 2010; [60] Leadbeater, 2009; [59] Meijer-van Mensch & van Mensch, 2013; [15] Prahalad & Ramaswamy, 2004; [60] Leadbeater, 2009; [61] Russo & Richards, 2016
Table 2. Conceptualization of experience design principles and wellbeing indicators.
Table 2. Conceptualization of experience design principles and wellbeing indicators.
Experience Design PrinciplesWellbeing Dimensions
individualitysatisfaction, self-esteem, value, loyalty
active participation/engagement/co-creation/interactionself-actualization, autonomy, personal fulfilment, empathy, personal change
themingconnection, attachment, satisfaction, meaning, purpose
novelty, authenticity, and extraordinary elementshappiness, optimism, satisfaction
immersion/focusclear thinking, connection, fulfilment, empathy, relief
meaningclear thinking, connection, value, purpose
engagement of the sensessatisfaction, optimism, connection, attachment, fulfilment, clear thinking, autonomy, relief, loyalty, value, personal change
emotional reactionsfulfilment, connection, empathy, transformation, value
Table 3. Profile of respondents.
Table 3. Profile of respondents.
CharacteristicsFrequencyPercentage
Type of tourist
Domestic 203.8
Foreign50196.2
Gender
Male20940.4
Female30859.6
Age
0–207113.6
21–3022042.2
31–409017.3
41–50428.1
51–60377.1
61 or older6111.7
Education
Less than high school30.6
High school509.6
Some college but no degree8315.9
Bachelor’s degree23845.7
Master/doctoral degree14728.2
Monthly income
Less than EUR 5007013.5
EUR 501–10007314.1
EUR 1001–20007514.5
EUR 2001–30005210.0
EUR 3001 or more12223.5
I prefer not to answer12824.7
Purpose of visit to Zagreb
Business326.1
Cultural tourism30258.0
VFR112.1
Health tourism51.0
Holidays16732.1
Other51.0
Duration of stay
1 day8115.5
2 days18335.1
3 days16030.7
4 days417.9
5 or more days5610.7
Table 4. Level of wellbeing after the exhibition.
Table 4. Level of wellbeing after the exhibition.
Level of Wellbeing after the ExhibitionAfter the Exhibition
Total no. of responses521
% Low wellbeing10%
% Moderate wellbeing65%
% High wellbeing26%
Mean score27.7
Standard deviation4.3
Table 5. Descriptive statistics of the SWEMWBS scale.
Table 5. Descriptive statistics of the SWEMWBS scale.
I Feel Optimistic about the FutureI Feel Good and UsefulI Feel RelaxedI Feel I Can Deal with Problems WellI Am Able to Think Clearly about Past Experiences in LifeI Feel Closer to Other PeopleI Have Been Able to Make up My Mind about ThingsTotal SWEMWBS Score
Total no. of responses521520521519519521521521
Mean3.994.063.913.974.083.883.8027.69
Standard deviation0.940.871.010.880.870.980.944.27
Table 6. Groups of variables, questions used and metric.
Table 6. Groups of variables, questions used and metric.
Subjective Wellbeing VariablesQuestions/ItemsCronbach’s AlphaCommunalitiesEigenvalue (% of Variance)Principal Component AnalysisPrincipal Axis Factoring
Well-functioning aspects
  • I feel good and useful
  • I feel I can deal with problems well
  • I am able to make up my mind about things
  • I am able to think clearly about past experiences in life
  • I discovered some novelties which help me better deal with my life
0.7111. 0.509
2. 0.614
3. 0.477
4. 0.284
5. 0.475
2.359
(47.186)
1. 0.302
2. 0.332
3. 0.293
4. 0.226
5. 0.292
1. 0.378
2. 0.546
3. 0.330
4. 0.158
5. 0.332
Positive feelings
  • Overall, how good (happy) are you feeling now after the exhibition?
  • I feel relaxed
  • I feel optimistic about the future
0.6531. 0.559
2. 0.629
3. 0.587
1.774
(59.15)
1. 0.421
2. 0.447
3. 0.432
1. 0.326
2. 469
3. 0.372
Evaluation of life aspects
  • Overall, how satisfied are you with your life after the exhibition?
-----
Table 7. Variables normality test.
Table 7. Variables normality test.
Normality Tests
Kolmogorov-Smirnov aShapiro-Wilk
StatisticdfSig.StatisticdfSig.
Functioning well0.0555180.0010.9625180.000
Positive feelings0.0855180.0000.9485180.000
Satisfaction0.2885180.0000.7535180.000
HIGH WELLBEING0.0545180.0010.9685180.000
a Lilliefors Significance Correction.
Table 8. Descriptive statistics of the variables.
Table 8. Descriptive statistics of the variables.
Descriptive Statistics
NRangeMinimumMaximumMeanStd. DeviationSkewnessKurtosis
StatisticStatisticStatisticStatisticStatisticStatisticStatisticStd. ErrorStatisticStd. Error
Foreign_tourist5211010.960.192−4.8190.10721.3050.214
Age5215162.881.5410.8680.107−0.3910.214
Gender5211010.410.4920.3720.107−1.8690.214
Education5214153.910.933−0.7100.107−0.0730.214
Income5195163.891.769−0.3130.107−1.3070.214
Cultural_tourist5211010.580.494−0.3240.107−1.9030.214
Length of stay5214152.631.1610.5660.107−0.3300.214
High satisfaction5184154.360.714−1.1310.1071.8860.214
Functioning well521539.340−401.016138.3240.000.86526283−0.7120.1071.5710.214
Positive feelings521448.407−337.235111.1720.000.81413613−0.7570.1070.6840.214
High wellbeing518602.064−458.797143.2670.000.89252232−0.6830.1071.1220.214
Valid N (listwise)516
Table 9. Spearman’s correlation coefficients.
Table 9. Spearman’s correlation coefficients.
SatisfactionFunctioning WellPositive FeelingsHigh WellbeingCultural TouristForeign TouristAgeGenderEducationIncomeLength of Stay
SatisfactionCorrelation Coefficient1.0000.425 **0.466 **0.628 **−0.064−0.0530.126 **0.0290.087 *0.040−0.007
Sig. (2-tailed) 0.0000.0000.0000.1450.2250.0040.5080.0490.3690.879
N518518518518518518518518518516518
Functioning wellCorrelation Coefficient0.425 **1.0000.582 **0.804 **0.006−0.0550.179 **0.0650.093 *0.114 **−0.033
Sig. (2-tailed)0.000 0.0000.0000.8830.2110.0000.1410.0330.0090.447
N518521521518521521521521521519521
Positive feelingsCorrelation Coefficient0.466 **0.582 **1.0000.926 **−0.019−0.0490.183 **0.0080.0250.116 **−0.041
Sig. (2-tailed)0.0000.000 0.0000.6720.2620.0000.8540.5720.0080.355
N518521521518521521521521521519521
High wellbeingCorrelation Coefficient0.628 **0.804 **0.926 **1.000−0.017−0.0610.214 **0.0410.0710.125 **−0.042
Sig. (2-tailed)0.0000.0000.000 0.7050.1650.0000.3540.1090.0040.341
N518518518518518518518518518516518
Cultural touristCorrelation Coefficient−0.0640.006−0.019−0.0171.0000.174 **−0.0690.0440.051−0.024−0.005
Sig. (2-tailed)0.1450.8830.6720.705 0.0000.1170.3190.2450.5820.904
N518521521518521521521521521519521
Foreign touristCorrelation Coefficient−0.053−0.055−0.049−0.0610.174 **1.0000.115 **0.0850.137 **0.060−0.083
Sig. (2-tailed)0.2250.2110.2620.1650.000 0.0090.0530.0020.1710.058
N518521521518521521521521521519521
AgeCorrelation Coefficient0.126 **0.179 **0.183 **0.214 **−0.0690.115 **1.0000.131 **0.345 **0.412 **−0.049
Sig. (2-tailed)0.0040.0000.0000.0000.1170.009 0.0030.0000.0000.269
N518521521518521521521521521519521
GenderCorrelation Coefficient0.0290.0650.0080.0410.0440.0850.131 **1.0000.0770.091 *0.000
Sig. (2-tailed)0.5080.1410.8540.3540.3190.0530.003 0.0780.0390.996
N518521521518521521521521521519521
EducationCorrelation Coefficient0.087 *0.093 *0.0250.0710.0510.137 **0.345 **0.0771.0000.240 **−0.027
Sig. (2-tailed)0.0490.0330.5720.1090.2450.0020.0000.078 0.0000.536
N518521521518521521521521521519521
IncomeCorrelation Coefficient0.0400.114 **0.116 **0.125 **−0.0240.0600.412 **0.091 *0.240 **1.000−0.007
Sig. (2-tailed)0.3690.0090.0080.0040.5820.1710.0000.0390.000 0.874
N516519519516519519519519519519519
Length of stayCorrelation Coefficient−0.007−0.033−0.041−0.042−0.005−0.083−0.0490.000−0.027−0.0071.000
Sig. (2-tailed)0.8790.4470.3550.3410.9040.0580.2690.9960.5360.874
N518521521518521521521521521519521
* Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed), ** Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).
Table 10. Levene’s variance homogeneity test.
Table 10. Levene’s variance homogeneity test.
Levene Statisticdf1df2Sig.
Functioning well0.10615190.745
Positive feelings1.75615190.186
Satisfaction0.19915160.656
High wellbeing0.31615160.574
Table 11. Mann-Whitney U test.
Table 11. Mann-Whitney U test.
Cultural TourismNMean RankSum of Ranks
SatisfactionNoncultural 216269.7158,258.00
Cultural302252.2076,163.00
Total518
Functioning wellNoncultural 219259.8656,910.00
Cultural302261.8279,071.00
Total521
Positive feelingsNoncultural 219264.2757,876.00
Cultural302258.6378,105.00
Table 12. Mann-Whitney U test results.
Table 12. Mann-Whitney U test results.
Mann-Whitney U Test Statistics a
SatisfactionFunctioning WellPositive FeelingsHigh Wellbeing
Mann-Whitney U30,410.00032,820.00032,352.00031,978.500
Wilcoxon W76,163.00056,910.00078,105.00077,731.500
Z−1.458−0.147−0.424−0.380
Asymp. Sig. (2-tailed)0.1450.8830.6720.704
a Grouping Variable: Cultural Tourist.
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Jelinčić, D.A.; Matečić, I. Broken but Well: Healing Dimensions of Cultural Tourism Experiences. Sustainability 2021, 13, 966. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13020966

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Jelinčić DA, Matečić I. Broken but Well: Healing Dimensions of Cultural Tourism Experiences. Sustainability. 2021; 13(2):966. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13020966

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Jelinčić, Daniela Angelina, and Ingeborg Matečić. 2021. "Broken but Well: Healing Dimensions of Cultural Tourism Experiences" Sustainability 13, no. 2: 966. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13020966

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