*Tan Poh Ling, Shuhaida Md. Noor, Hasrina Mustafa & Shaian Kiumarsi
The mindfulness framework has been suggested as useful in explaining tourist learning, understanding and satisfaction. Mindfulness refers to the state of being aware and attentive of one’s environment and self while at the same time being able to suspend preconceived ideas and judgements to process new information. This study revisits the two categories of factors contributing to mindfulness, namely, visitor factors and communication factors, in the quest to understand their influences at heritage sites. While communication factors have received much scrutiny in previous research, it is not so for visitor factors; their interrelationship with communication factors and the ways in which they contribute to mindfulness have not been expounded on. In this study, qualitative data collected through in-depth interviews with local and international tourists at the Penang Heritage Sites, is used to provide preliminary insights on that relationship. The study has revealed that the connection of heritage sites to self (self-connectedness) underscores tourists’ mindfulness at heritage sites. Self-connectedness while at these heritage sites is identified in three themes: ‘cultural heritage and self’, in which tourists are mindful of their own cultural heritage; ‘culture of others’, in which tourists are mindful of the cultural heritage of ‘others’; and ‘social self’, in which tourists are mindful of the opportunity for ‘self’ to socialise with ‘others’. Importantly, then, this study highlights the potential of using communication strategies to emphasise self-connectedness at heritage sites.
Keywords: mindfulness, communication factors, visitor factors and heritage sites