Today’s blog entry is about the ongoing research project “AMIES II – Scenario development for sustainable land use in the Greater Caucasus, Georgia“, that is using the MAXApp for data collection and analysis in tourism studies. The researchers are interested in sustainable land use, land development, and quality of life in the greater Caucasus, Georgia. The project is divided in four units with German and Georgian researchers cooperating in each unit. The study area is the popular summer resort Kazbegi Municipality, which attracts many tourists because of its climate and natural beauty. The research is supported by the University of Giessen in cooperation with Tbilisi State University.
Kazbegi Municipality (Caucasus)
Region: Mtskheta-Mtianeti (north-eastern Georgia) / Population (2002): 1,820 /
Distance from Tiblis: 157 km / Sea level: 1,740 meters / Coordinates: 42°39’27″N 44°38’43″E
Tourism in Kazbegi Municipality (Caucasus)
The purpose of this study is to analyze Tourism in Kazbegi Municipality: Socio-economic aspects (peculiarities) of resource provision and service delivery as well as socio-cultural aspects of tourism in Kazbegi. In the research great attention is paid to evaluate tourists’ expectations and satisfaction with regard to food supply and tourism services in hotels and hotel-type establishments (guesthouses). The main concern is about the comparison of expectation-levels and satisfaction-levels of a selected sample of respondents. Understanding the expectations and experiences of visitors will give important clues in developing destination attractiveness, improving tourist goods and tourism business in Kazbegi.
During the fieldwork we conducted participant observation as well as in-depth interviews. On the one hand the primary reason for using participant observation was to come to a better understanding of the tourism development in the host community: 1) to identify tourism services offered in the villages and town of Stepantsminda 2) to develop scenarios of sustainable production schemes that both serve the local population and raise food marketing potentials in the tourism sector.
Using MAXApp for Fieldwork
During the first phase of our fieldwork (2014) research limitations were identified in the process of analyzing collected data and information. For example, we faced the problem to explain the meanings of local terms and locally specific situations or places. Due to the fact that our study reflects many typical things of Georgian culture and traditions, we had to find a way by which we could make some local terms clear for foreigners. Therefore the only way to solve above-mentioned challenges was – visualization.
For our fieldwork (2015) we used MAXApp, the free App that can export data to MAXQDA 12, to collect daily life images and videos of local dwellers, stores, kiosks, food joints, guesthouses, hotels, farms, etc. Using MAXApp enabled us to capture pictures of places such as “Open Bazaar” or “Mobile Shop”, organize them in a structured way, and to show them to the tourists we interviewed in order to give them a better understanding of locally specific places, objects, and concepts. Additionally, we tagged the collected data by using the “emoticode” function of MAXApp for non-verbal categorization to save time during the coding process.
It should be emphasized that each data was automatically tagged with a geo link for the location at which they were created. This enabled us to keep an overview over the places we have been and included in our research without having to mark them on an external map. At the same time we had the possibility to write notes and add memos to the collected data. This is especially helpful because additional reflections such as thoughts, ideas, questions, and concerns come up during the participant observation. MAXApp enabled us to write down such notes during our fieldwork, at the same time connecting them to related pictures, videos, and geo-links.
Coding Process and Results
The method of data analysis we applied was a qualitative content analysis implemented with help of MAXQDA. In our case an inductive approach was chosen: empirical data was analyzed and then a conceptual framework has been developed. Initially, we began the coding process with thematic categories based on in-depth interview narratives and other types of information (photos, videos, notes). After formulating criteria we coded the entire information in MAXQDA.
The results of our content analysis showed that the visitors had lower expectations, but left Kazbegi with a high level of satisfaction regarding price, infrastructure, quality of services in hotels and guest houses, a wide range of coffee shops and restaurants, and personal safety. The research also revealed that in contrast to high expectations of Georgian cuisine the satisfaction levels were too low. It should be noted that the majority of sampled tourists expressed their satisfaction with regard to staff, offered food and high-quality of services in hotels.