Mermaiding as a Form of Marine Devotion: a Case Study of a Mermaid School in Borocay, Philippines
Mermaiding, the practice of wearing a mermaid tail and/or costume, and often swimming in costume, began in the mid-20th Century and has since grown into a global phenomenon. Despite its increasing popularity, there appears to be no research exploring mermaiding as a tourism activity. Consequently, this is the first study exploring the motivations and experiences of mermaid tourists, employing a case study approach at a mermaid school on the island of Boracay in the Philippines. Semi-structured interviews with one male and eight females, including an instructor/owner, revealed three major themes – fantasy, coastal and marine environment and the marine “other” – with a further overlapping of three core subthemes – power, beauty and hedonism. These subthemes helped explain the motivations to partake in such activities, which included being a waterperson, mythology, novelty and marine conservation. Despite a range of nationalities among the respondents (Brazil, Germany, New Zealand, United States, Philippines and Sweden), it is suggested that more extensive research on mermaiding be undertaken, especially at various locations around the globe.