Scholars widely believe that young tourists express increased hedonistic debauchery when visiting nightlife destinations. Debauchery exposes tourists to several severe health risks. Using an interaction ritual perspective and an analysis of user-generated YouTube videos, this research project examines the debauchery of nightlife tourists and the risky implications. The full moon party on Koh Phangan, Thailand is the case that is studied. The findings suggest that a strong interaction ritual takes place during the full moon party, which stimulates partygoers to indulge in potentially risky debauchery. Consuming large quantities of alcohol, dancing on a beach, participating in fire stunts and wearing neon coloured body paint and clothing are the most important activities. Additionally, the findings indicate that the standards of morality shift significantly during the full moon party. A self-reinforcing interaction ritual process appears to stimulate tourists to focus on the nightlife activities, abandon self restraint, suspend conventional norms and express hedonistic debauchery. Furthermore, this study initiates the belief that a YouTube video analysis is a serviceable research tool for generating a comprehensive insight into tourism interaction behaviour. This study also proposes several interventions that aim to decrease risks in nightlife destinations, while safeguarding the tourism revenues for the host community.
Author: T. van Campenhout (2015)