Dr Wenjie Cai

Dr Wenjie Cai BEng, BA, MSc, FHEA, PhD

Senior Lecturer in Tourism and Hospitality

Key details

Dr Wenjie Cai
BEng, BA, MSc, FHEA, PhD

Senior Lecturer in Tourism and Hospitality

Dr Wenjie Cai joined the University of Greenwich September 2017 after completing his PhD in Tourism from the University of Surrey. His PhD focused on reconstructing the 'three-layer system of culture' through the lens of the new mobilities paradigm and liquid modernity by exploring Chinese outbound backpackers' experiences in Europe.
Before joining Greenwich, Wenjie had various working experiences both in industry and academia. He worked for the University of Surrey, the University of East London and the world-leading tour operator TUI. Before he came to the UK, he was the President of the Student Union at the Fujian Normal University, China, and in charge of various projects in relation to human resource management, strategic planning, and event management.
Wenjie's area of expertise and research interests include intercultural communication, social inclusion, consumer behaviours, mobilities studies, ICT in tourism, backpacker tourism, qualitative research methods, and Chinese outbound tourism. He has a strong interest in interdisciplinary collaborations – and is currently collaborating on research projects with academics from the UK, New Zealand, Finland, Malaysia and China in the disciplines of sociology and the information systems. Wenjie publishes research in world-leading journals in the field. His research also attracts global media attention, including BBC, Forbes, the Conversation, CCTV, La Vanguardia and Yahoo.

Responsibilities within the university

  • Teaching tourism and hospitality modules at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
  • Dissertation supervisors and personal tutor.

Wenjie is currently available for PhD supervision in the following areas:

  • Backpacker tourism
  • Tourist Behaviour
  • Chinese independent travellers
  • Effective use of technology in tourism/ digital-free tourism
  • Social inclusion and tourism
  • Mobilities


2019 Early Career Researcher Communication and Engagement Award – University of Greenwich

2016 Outstanding Ph.D. Thesis Award – 8th World Conference for Graduate Research in Tourism, Hospitality and Leisure

2013 Ph.D. Participant Award - Celebrating and Enhancing the Tourism Knowledge-based Platform: A Tribute to Jafar Jafari


PhD External Examiner:

2019: University of Tasmania, Australia

2018: University of Otago, New Zealand 

Special Issue Editor:

Gender and Sexuality in Tourism and Hospitality – Tourism and Hospitality Research journal

Reviewers for:

Annals of Tourism Research

Tourism Management

Journal of Travel Research

Journal of Sustainable Tourism

International Journal of Tourism Research

Tourism Geographies

International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management

International Journal of Tourism Cities

Tourism and Hospitality Research

Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences

Journal of Cleaner Production

IFIP World Computer Congress

Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences

Research / Scholarly interests

Dr Wenjie Cai's current research focus on digital wellbeing, diversity, equality and social inclusion in the context of tourism and hospitality. Projects includes study investigating the benefits of digital detox holidays, action plans to transform gender relations in tourism and hospitality, and inclusive LGBT holiday space.

Dr Wenjie Cai also conducts projects in relation to his PhD research. He is currently leading multiple projects in intercultural communications, such as investigating backpackers' authentic seeking through food consumptions, and hybrid identity negotiations and transformations through backpacker journey.

Wenjie interests in qualitative methods and epistemology in tourism. He is currently working on project to further explore (auto)ethnography, mobile methods, and critically investigate the knowledge creations in Information Technology and Tourism.

Key funded projects

2020-2021 KEEP+ Research Innovation Collaboration Grant (Principal Investigator): design a customised and unique digital-free travel experience, funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

2020 Small Research Grant: Exploring the trends of knowledge creation in information technology and tourism research (Principal Investigator), Faculty of Business, University of Greenwich

2018-2019 ROOTS - Recognising Cultural Heritage Opportunities for Tourism SMEs (Researcher), co-funded by the Erasmus + Programme of the European Union.

Media activity

The Conversation:
Leave your phone at home this holiday and you'll feel better (after you feel worse): https://theconversation.com/leave-your-phone-at-home-this-holiday-and-youll-feel-better-after-you-feel-worse-121278

The Unbearable Lightness Of Traveling Unplugged

Evening Express:
Digital-detox holidaymakers reconnect with real world, study suggests: https://www.eveningexpress.co.uk/news/digital-detox-holidaymakers-reconnect-with-real-world-study-suggests/

Medical Xpress:
Study reveals the emotional journey of a digital detox while travelling: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2019-08-reveals-emotional-journey-digital-detox.html

Holiday digital detox: This is the emotional journey you'll go through: https://www.stylist.co.uk/life/digital-detox-emotional-journey-new-research-what-happens-when-you-go-offline/286885

Digital-detox holidaymakers reconnect with real world, study suggests

Travellers 'engaged more with locals and each other' during holiday tech detox

 Daily Mail:
'Digital detox' holidays where you ditch your phone let you enjoy your trip MORE 'because you won't be bombarded by notifications'  https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-7356493/Digital-detox-holidays-ditch-phone-make-enjoy-trip-more.html?ito=social-twitter_mailonline

US News:
Unplugging From Social Media on Vacation? It's Tough at First

The terrifying, liberating experience of traveling without your smartphone

Psychology Today:
The Emotional Roller-Coaster of a Digital Detox Vacation

Channel News Asia:
The worry, anxiety and emotional challenges of disconnecting while on holiday

Thrive Global:
You Have to Disconnect to Reconnect

Irish Times:
Nomophobia prevents millennials from switching off


Floros, C., Cai, W., McKenna, B., & Ajeeb, D. (2019) Imagine being off-the-grid: Millennials' Perceptions of Digital-Free Travel, Journal of Sustainable Tourism. (https://doi.org/10.1080/09669582.2019.1675676)

Cai, W., McKenna, B., & Waizenegger, L. (2019) Turning It Off: Emotions in Digital-Free Travel, Journal of Travel Research. (https://doi.org/10.1177/0047287519868314)

Cai, W., Cohen, S. A, Tribe, J. (2019) Harmony rules in Chinese Backpacker Groups, Annals of Tourism Research, 75, pp. 120-130. (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.annals.2018.12.010).

Cai, W, Richter, S, McKenna, B (2019) Progress on Technology Use in Tourism, Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology (https://doi.org/10.1108/JHTT-07-2018-0068).

Zeng, X., McKenna, B., Richter, S., & Cai, W. (2019) How social media can afford engagement processes, in: Themistocleous M., Rupino da Cunha P. (eds) Information Systems. EMCIS 2018. Lecture Notes in Business Information Processing, vol 341. Springer, Cham (https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-11395-7_23).

McKenna, B., Cai, W. and Tuunanen, T. (2018) Technology Enabled Information Services Use in Tourism: An Ethnographic Study of Chinese Backpackers, Pacific Asia Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 10(4), 37-64. (https://doi.org/10.17705/1PAIS.10402)

Cai W. (2018) Donkey Friends in Europe: A Mobile Ethnographic Study in Group Orientation of Chinese Outbound Backpackers, in: Khoo-Lattimore C., Yang E. (eds) Asian Youth Travellers. Perspectives on Asian Tourism. Springer, Singapore. (https://doi.org/10.1007/978-***********-0_5).

McKenna, B., Cai, W., & Tuunanen, T. (2017) Consumer Information Services in Intercultural Tourism: An Ethnographic Study of Chinese Outbound Backpackers, in Proceedings of the 50th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS 2017) (pp. 1237-1246). IEEE Computer Society. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10125/41301

Vodanovich, S., McKenna, B. and Cai, W. (2017) Cultural values inherent in the design of social media platforms: A case study of WeChat, in: 30th Bled eConference Digital Transformation – From Connecting Things to Transforming Our Lives (Conference Proceedings). University of Maribor Press, pp. 617-628. (https://doi.org/10.18690/978-961-286-043-1)

Cai, W. (2015) Explorer travellers and adventure tourism, Anatolia: An International Journal of Tourism and Hospitality Research, 26. pp. 318-319. (https://doi.org/10.1080/13032917.2015.1007691)


McKenna, B., Cai, W. (2019). Where Is 'Tourism and Technology' Research in the Information Systems Discipline? Presented at Critical Tourism Studies Biennial Conference, Spain.

Gebbels, M., Cai, W., Gao, X. (2019). Gender Issues in Tourism and Hospitality Organisations: How to Bridge the Gap between Gender Awareness and Organisational Support? Presented at Critical Tourism Studies Biennial Conference, Spain.

Cai, W., Southall, C. (2019). Gay Parents in Heterosexual Family Holiday Space. Presented at Critical Tourism Studies Biennial Conference, Spain.

Cai, W. (2018). Writings on the wall: an exploration of the role of graffiti in the co-creation of backpacker space. Presented at International Tourism Studies Association Biennial Conference, South Africa.

Cai, W., McKenna, B. (2017). Into the wild: exploring digitally disconnected travel experiences', 26th Nordic Tourism Symposium, Sweden.

Vodanovich, S. McKenna, B., Cai, W. (2017) 'Made in China: Cultural Values Inherent in the Design of Social Media Platforms',30th Bled eConference, Slovenia.

Cai, W., Cohen, S., Tribe, J. (2016). 'Donkey friends in Europe: a Mobile Ethnographic Study in Group Orientation of Chinese outbound backpackers', University of Surrey's School of Hospitality and Tourism Management Conference 2016, Guildford, UK.

Cai, W. (2016). 'Conceptualising three-layer Cultural System in the mobilities: a mobile ethnographic study of Chinese outbound backpackers in Europe', 8th World Conference for Graduate Research in Tourism, Hospitality and Leisure, Bodrum, Turkey (Awarded Best Paper)

Cai, W., McKenna, B. (2016) 'Consumer information technologies in intercultural tourism: a case study of Chinese outbound backpackers', 4th Interdisciplinary Tourism Research Conference, Bodrum, Turkey.

Cai, W. (2016) 'Negotiating ideologies of Chinese outbound backpackers: perception, transformation, and paradoxical identity construction', Tourism Research Network PhD/ECR Symposium 2016, Sheffield, UK.

Cai, W. (2015). Three-layer Culture System in Hypermobile Setting: a Mobile Ethnographic Study of Chinese Outbound Backpackers in Europe. Presented at SHTM Research Seminar. School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, University of Surrey, UK.

Cai, W. (2014) 'The 'Travel Experiential Network': a mobile ethnographical study on Chinese outbound backpackers', 13th European Association of Social Anthropologist Biennial Conference, Tallinn, Estonia.

Cai, W. (2014). The 'Travel Experiential Network' and Chinese Outbound Backpackers. Presented at FBEL annual conference, University of Surrey, UK.