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tourism, geography of

  Tourism has been defined as \'the activities of persons travelling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes\' (World Tourism Organization, 1993). Such a definition is, however, inherently problematic on at least two counts. First, it fails to encapsulate any distinct sphere of social practice, thus permitting tourism, leisure, recreation, hobbying, culture and so on to elide uncritically. Secondly, it fails to capture the relationships between tourism and its \'other\'. MacCannell (1992) argues that a tourist is someone who leaves home in order to experience some kind of \'otherness\', and although the nature of tourism will change as sought-after othernesses change, the common denominator for tourists is an escape from the \'normal\' experiences of home and work, and a search for experiences of otherness.

Tourism has now been heralded as the world\'s biggest industry, having overtaken petroleum and motor vehicles as the leading export earner in the world in 1994 (Youell, 1998). It makes a significant contribution to global economic development, and generates wealth and employment on an international scale, with many nations, regions and people relying on tourism for their social and economic well-being. Equally tourism has been responsible for the packaging of entire cultures and environments for tourists. In some cases, tourist places have been transformed through such packaging, and in others places have been created specifically for tourist consumption. Tourist places are not only experienced in situ, through advances in the technology of travel which have shrunk the world, but also virtually, through exposure in a wide range of media and advertising. Tourism, therefore, has been directly implicated in both the changing nature of place, and in shaping geographical imaginations and experiences of place on a global scale.

Geographers have taken a long-standing interest in tourism, but geographies of tourism have blossomed during the 1990s as a wider range of concepts and issues have been opened up as part of the cultural turn. Foundational studies in the geography of tourism have focused on four phenomena, and the connections between them: the places that groups of people leave, visit and pass through; the people so travelling; those organizers who make these trips possible; and the people who are encountered along the way (Pearce, 1995). Such studies have often taken the form of locational analysis of tourist flows and movements, and attempts to model the evolution of particular tourist resorts. Critics of these studies (see Britton, 1991; Shaw and Williams, 1994) have suggested that more nuanced geographies of tourism should involve greater theoretical understandings both of the dynamics of the tourism industry and of the social practices involved. Spatial characteristics, it is argued, should not merely be seen as providing the environment within which the social activities of tourism happen to take place. Rather, the places and practices of tourism are integrally interconnected, and more recent geographies of tourism have leaned heavily on the sociological and anthropological contributions of Erik Cohen, Dean MacCannell and John Urry to chart these interconnections in the ways in which tourist places are produced, represented and consumed.

The places of tourism are now usually set in a global culture of tourism, which can result in a trip to a destination which not only seems to resemble every other tourist destination, but which can also increasingly resemble the tourist\'s home. Tourism is often characterized by industrial standardization, with airports, planes, restaurants, tour buses, hotels, shopping malls, theme parks, beach resorts and so on acquiring characteristics of uniformity which can render a particular place as in some ways \'placeless\' (cf. placelessness). Ritzer and Liska (1997) describe this phenomenon as \'McDisneyization\'. Tourism, then, has reproduced places, and in some cases (such as the Disney resorts themselves) created places from scratch, in such a way as to conform to a universal \'architecture of pleasure\'. The specificity of the destination thus becomes eroded, and the presentation of the \'authentic\' place is often reduced to a replication of previous ways of living and working or of other cultures for consumption by tourists. Thus local tradition and culture becomes tourist spectacle, and the resultant tourist culture represents particular fragments of local culture which tourism itself has helped to destroy (see spectacle, geography of).

With underlying processes of standardization, and attempts to authenticate local distinctiveness through the production of cultural spectacle, the representations of tourist places and practices can become more \'real\' than the places themselves. Take, for example, MacCannell\'s (1996) account of tourism in Switzerland:

Certain spots in Switzerland have become a theme park or cartoon image of its idealized former self. The mountains and lakes are not merely natural, but \'scenery\' organized by official viewing points; there is an elaborate transportation system of mountain trains for the exclusive use of sightseers; the national dish, fondue, is exclusively a party dish; former peasants have obligingly agreed to wear picturesque outfits and use picturesque equipment, Heidi and William Tell costumes, Alpine horns and oversized cowbells, long after other European peasants abandoned their colourful ways; one of the main industries turns out what are two of the most stable souvenirs not just of Switzerland but of Western Europe, music boxes and cuckoo clocks; \'Swiss\' chalets are the model of mountain recreation homes throughout the Western world. \'Switzerland\' is everywhere and also, in a sense, it no longer exists in Switzerland. (p. 11)Representations of tourist places are central to the cultural practice of tourism. The distribution of tourist images is worldwide, and for most people the images in brochures, magazines or calendars, or on television or video, establish anticipatory expectations of the tourist places concerned. Places are given meanings in such images, and tourists will expect to see these place-images and experience these place-meanings when they visit (Goss, 1993). The importance of how places are represented then, lies not only in the construction of expectation through place promotion (Selwyn, 1996), but also in the presentation of a place as a picture-perfect image of itself, which the tourist will take back in some form, only with themselves at the centre of it.

The consumption of tourist places will depend on the varying \'gaze\' (Urry, 1990) of the tourist, who as a receiver of the signs and symbols of produced tourist culture is not necessarily structured by those signs, but can assemble and destroy the realities of tourist places and practices in the free play of the imagination (MacCannell, 1989). There are commonly thought to be two different types of tourist: those who seek pleasure, entertainment, relaxation and often clement weather, for whom the specific destination is not of vital importance; and those who deliberately choose to avoid destinations frequented by the first group of tourists, seeking instead a travel experience that can be conveyed as real or authentic (Zurich, 1995). These categories are neither mutually exclusive nor entirely bound up with matters of class, wealth or income (May, 1996), although these may be important. Thus \'pleasure-seeking\' tourists frequent cheap and cheerful domestic holiday camps as well as expensive and exclusive Caribbean club-resorts, and seekers after authenticity may be young hitchhikers on a low budget as well as consumers of expensively micro-packaged adventures in exotic places.

Even within these categories, different tourists will have different ways of seeing and experiencing tourist places. Domosh\'s (1991) work on gender, and Munt\'s (1994) work on class, for example, have opened up some of these differences. More generally, the tourist gaze can be seen to have shifted over time, rendering particular types of places more or less interesting to visit. Thus in Britain, the seaside holiday has tended to wane in importance in comparison with rural, cultural and heritage sites. Tourists seem more inclined to seek out \'authenticity\' through these choices, even though they realize just how inauthentic these authenticities are. The shifting tourist gaze is at least in part a product of the close linkages between commodification, consumption and tourism. Tourism has become a commodity which is marketed and sold, and even those who seek to escape the excesses of commodified tourism are catered for in the niche-marketing of tourism commodities.

Some commentators now believe that we are in the age of the \'post-tourist\' (Feifer, 1985), an idea with three principal elements:

{img src=show_image.php?name=2022.gif } the post-tourist can increasingly gaze on tourist sites without leaving home, by using virtual technology and media; {img src=show_image.php?name=2022.gif } post-tourism has become an eclectic pastiche of niched interests; and {img src=show_image.php?name=2022.gif } post-tourists play games — playing at and with tourism and recognizing that there is no such thing as authentic experience.However, as Rojek (1993) has shown, even post-tourists are incorporated within the commodification of tourist places and practices, and they are drawn to the signs and significations of tourism just as \'other\' tourists are. Post-tourists, then, offer yet more interesting geographies of the changing nature and gaze of tourism.

Finally, it should be emphasized that geographies of tourism have a number of inherent contradictions to deal with. First, with the increasingly spectacular and uniform nature of \'placeless\' tourism, there is a realization that virtual experiences of spectacular places are often superior to the real experience. Secondly, it is becoming increasingly difficult to provide innovative places or practices with which to satisfy the discerning post-tourist. Every niched packaging of adventurous or exotic place-experience has the effect of narrowing the scope of tourisms which are yet to be encountered. The portfolio of \'been there done that\', or even worse \'others have been there done that\' is ever-widening, making further innovation problematic, and reducing the remnants of non-globalized cultures. Even the repackaging of existing destinations — such as the promotion of adventure tourism to provide embodied thrills in scenic locations in a place like New Zealand (Cloke and Perkins, 1998) — involves continual innovation in order to present yet more adventurous pursuits for tourists. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, much of contemporary tourism raises crucial questions about sustainability, in that by its very nature it tends to ruin the very places and cultures which tourists come to see. As Connell (1993) has shown in the case of Bali, tourism represents a means by which the other is both made dependent, and exploited (Cf. recreation; leisure, geography of). (PJC)

References Britton, S. 1991: Tourism, capital and place: towards a critical geography of tourism. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 16: 185-218. Cloke, P. and Perkins, H. 1998: \'Cracking the canyon with the \'Awesome Foursome\': representations of adventure tourism in New Zealand. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 16: 185-2 18. Connell, J. 1993: Bali revisited: death, rejuvenation and the tourist cycle. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 1: 641-61. Domosh, M. 1991: Towards a feminist historiography of geography. Transactions, Institute of British Geographers NS 16: 95-104. Feifer, M. 1985: Going Places. London: Macmillan. Goss, J.D. 1993: Placing the market and marketing place: tourist advertising of the Hawaiian Islands 1972-1992. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 11: 663-8 8. MacCannell, D. 1989: The tourist, 2nd edn. London: Macmillan. MacCannell, D. 1992: Empty meeting grounds: the tourist papers. London: Routledge. MacCannell, D. 1996: Tourist or traveller? London: BBC Education. May, J. 1996: In search of authenticity off and on the beaten track. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 14: 709-3 6. Munt, I. 1994: The \'other\' postmodern tourism. Culture, travel and the new middle class. Theory, Culture and Society 11: 101-2 3. Pearce, D. 1995: Tourism today: a geographical analysis, 2nd edn. Chichester: Wiley. Ritzer, G. and Liska, A. 1997: \'McDisneyization:\' and \'Post-Tourism\': complementary perspectives on contemporary tourism. In C. Rojek and J. Urry, eds, Touring cultures: transformations of travel and theory. London: Routledge. Rojek, C. 1993: Ways of escape: modern transformations in leisure and travel. London: Macmillan. Selwyn, T. 1996: The tourist image: myths and myth making in tourism. Chichester: Wiley. Shaw, G. and Williams, A.M. 1994: Critical issues in tourism: a geographical perspective. Oxford: Blackwell. Urry, J. 1990: The tourist gaze: leisure and travel in contemporary societies. London: Sage; World Tourism Organization 1993: Recommendations on tourism statistics. Madrid: World Tourism Organization. Youell, R. 1998: Tourism: an introduction. Harlow: Longman. Zurich, D. 1995: Errant journeys. Austin: University of Texas Press.

Suggested Reading MacCannell, D. 1989: The tourist, 2nd edn. London: Macmillan. Squire, S.J. 1994: Accounting for cultural meanings: the interface between geography and tourism studies re-examined. Progress In Human Geography 18: 1-16. Urry (1990). Urry, J. 1995: Consuming places. London: Routledge. Urry, J. and Rojek, J., eds, 1997: Touring cultures: transformations of travel and theory. London: Routledge.



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