Intimate Tourism, also known as Emotional Tourism, is a concept created by Paula Bialski, a student sociologist, while studying CouchSurfing, a hospitality exchange network. Intimate tourism is a term which is used to define the process of hospitality exchange networks as the individual experiences a kind of relationship without physical or geographical borders – a post-friendship where the personal needs of the individual such as “personal growth,” direct dialog, and human closeness, is met instantly, without taking into account any time-space continuum traditionally ingrained in the institution of friendship.
Within Intimate Tourism, there are key social processes which assist this mechanism to fully function as it does – factors which allow people to become close, and verbally intimate after a very brief time.
- The dichotomy between public and private space within our urban environment can influence our intimacy level - specifically, the fact that individuals are meeting in the utmost of intimate spaces - the private home.
- The specific goal and mindset of the CouchSurfing individual is crucial as they make use of this previously-mentioned space in order to fulfill their agenda of ‘personal growth.’
- Finally, the Internet is the crucial key in merging these two worlds and quenching the individual’s need for closeness by providing access to the locality of intimacy – the private home or ‘couch.’
- The Sociology of Intimate Tourism, Paula Bialski's blog
- An interpretive study of online hospitality exchange systems as a new form of tourism