Scientists use 'Neuro-Tourism' technology to measure how much fun your holiday is

For years academics have gone to extremes in an effort to make science fun, but a team of Australian researchers are turning the tables in a bid to find the science in fun.

Professors from two Sydney universities have teamed up to develop a program to measure the enjoyment level travellers experience on their holidays.

"Neuro-Tourism" technology, which borrows from the intelligence you'd find in the diagnosis of epilepsy and sleep disorders, hopes to better equip holiday- makers to weigh up their trip by analysing its findings in conjunction with a traveller's own interest.

The technology is called electroencephalography, or EEG for short, and is being used in a study funded by the Singapore Tourism Board of a cross-section of travellers heading to the tiny island nation. Through the study, it hopes to discover what people love about one of Asia's cultural and adventure hotbeds.

EEG subjects wear a tiara-like device to conduct the tests and researchers use the data to measure the brain's emotional response to an activity - the excitement, fun, happiness, interest, stress and relaxation levels of the person involved.

While no two people react the same to an event, the results can suggest how certain groups are likely to feel in a nation more commonly known as a stopover than a holiday destination.

"Our results show that there is a huge variety of experiences people can have in Singapore, ranging from thrilling adventure-based activities to leafy and serene gardens," said Peter Simpson-Young, Neurotechnology Expert at the University of Sydney, one of the researchers who is conducting the study.

"More broadly, I hope this study teaches people that there is no 'one-size-fits- all' for travel itineraries, and that our emotions play a key role in shaping our experiences on holiday."

It's no surprise to discover that kids had high levels of excitement while flying down a mountain attached only by a few clips and cables at Singapore's Megazip Adventure Park. But parents would be interested to know that youngsters tended to share the same excitement tucking into some local chilli crab.


In fact, results showed that kids were much more interested in tasting the local fare than western food - be it Singapore's traditional sweet sensation of Kaya toast or an Indian breakfast of caramelised banana roti.

The study also rebuked a few myths: kids really do enjoy going to museums, where interest and excitement levels peaked.

Parents would probably also love to know that sometimes the best things in life are actually free. The study showed kids seemed happier taking in free experiences such as sightseeing in Chinatown or the Middle Eastern inspired Kampong Glam compared to visiting ticketed events.

Not surprisingly, the greatest emotional reaction came with uniquely Singaporean experiences - there aren't too many places in the world where you can experience the architecturally-inspiring Gardens by the Bay or the floating boat in the sky, the Marina Bay Sands.

So if you're not quite sure what you want out of your next trip abroad, maybe it's time to add a little science to your planning.

The results of the study are available on Singapore Tourism Board's website. For more information, visit: 


See also: Science proves travel is the secret to happiness

See also: 10 things you probably didn't know about Singapore

See also: 20 reasons to visit to Singapore with kids