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Challenges in Tourism Research

Challenges in Tourism Research

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Challenges in Tourism Research

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Aug 4, 2015


In this volume leading experts from different disciplines and diverse geographic regions discuss fundamental, often controversial topics in the field of tourism studies. The book attempts to understand, identify and analyse some of the perennial problems and challenges encountered by tourism researchers. The debates include topics such as the concept of the ‘tourist’, the long-term sustainability of tourism development, the growth of volunteer tourism and the vulnerability of tourism. Bringing together the collective wisdom of 37 renowned tourism scholars in a unique format, this is an important text for undergraduate and postgraduate students, tourism researchers and industry professionals.

Aug 4, 2015

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Challenges in Tourism Research - Channel View Publications



Francis Bacon was unparalleled in the art of word craft. Regarding the quality of books, he famously said, ‘Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested’. This book is none of this sort. It is organized to help understand certain research nuances of tourism, metaphors and methods, and to assist tourism scholars in some concepts that have gone vague and ambiguous owing to want of new knowledge. There are books – perhaps lot of them – that deal with such notions, yet these concepts remain stubbornly unexplained, so much so that some of them are considered stale and futile, for example, the concept of carrying capacity is considered almost ‘dead and ready to be buried’. I fear the concept of sustainability may not meet the same fate. We need innovative tools to operate them skillfully. Failure in scholarship should not be attributed to flawed concepts, for example, tourism is generally considered a most vulnerable industry that vanishes from the scene by sheer minor shocks – socio-economic upheavals, physical calamities or cultural loss. The industry has wronged the notion by surviving these impediments and has outlived such a menace as terrorism. It has established its resilient character amenable to quick recovery. The book addresses such challenges and attempts to seek right answers.

About 37 known scholars of tourism, emerging from different disciplines and diverse geographic regions, discuss and argue the threat of challenges. They present a suitable forum for meeting of the minds to find the key to open the door of knowledge. However, the book does not ignore the needs of young learners of tourism studies, particularly tourism’s new found language and vocabulary, idioms and paradoxes that often puzzle the freshers and very often the undergraduates. The new learners will find explanation of terms as post-modernism, post-tourism and difference between traveller and tourist; tourist and a visitor. Such terminologies demand disciplinary orientation.

This book would not have been possible without the assistance, help and enthusiastic cooperation of learned scholars from all over the world. This consortium of theme experts has given their most precious time for a deep probe. Lead probe authors have helped in writing the context and concluding remarks. I particularly owe a word of thanks to Richard Butler who gave his time to read some parts of this book at a time when he was facing serious personal problems. From the Centre for Tourism Research and Development my thanks go to Sagar Singh and Syed Ahmad Rizwan who helped me in reading the text. Masood Ansar Naqvi, to whom goes the credit of suggesting a short title to this book, was of immense help in preparing the text for the press despite his important editorial commitments. How can I forget Dr Naresh Arora and Dr Arvinder Singh who looked after my health, so did my sons Dr Salil Singh and Dr Samir Singh. Let me not forget Sahil Singh Yaduvanshi, my grandson, who will receive inspiration from this book. I was highly impressed by Elinor Robertson for her deft professionalism. My special thanks to Ulysses Laureate Professor Erik Cohen for writing a foreword to this book. I am highly obliged to Jonathan Manley, the publisher, Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group (UK) for giving license to publish literature drawn from Tourism Recreation Research.

Lucknow, India

January 7, 2015


Tej Vir Singh

Tourism is a highly complex phenomenon, riddled with a number of intriguing problems and stubborn challenges that gnaw at the patience of tourism researchers, owners, resource managers and stakeholders. There are many factors that make these challenges unassailable. Global in dimension, it is one of the largest industries of the world, hosting over 1.08 billion tourists earning over 1 billion US dollars and creating 1.11 million jobs in 2013 (UNWTO, 2014). Imagine how many businesses, firms, services and workforce would be engaged in serving these tourists; it is a huge challenge by itself. There are challenges inherent in tourism, such as seasonality and sensitivity, besides being an ensemble of many disciplines. This multidisciplinarity demands acquisition of rudimentary knowledge in some of the related disciplines (e.g. geography, economics, anthropology, psychology and other bio-sciences). Heroes of these disciplines have not only contributed to tourism studies, but have enriched tourism idiom and vocabulary; terminologies and epithets, like the tourist gaze, post-tourism, secular pilgrim are now part of tourism lexicon, nevertheless a learner of tourism faces a strange paradox when he fails to identify a tourist and confuses between a tourist and a traveller or a visitor, as these terms are often used interchangeably. Tourism often borrows metaphors, methodologies, concepts from other disciplines. One of the questionable drawbacks in proper understanding of tourism is want of a clear and succinct definition despite prolonged efforts of World Tourism Organization (WTO) (now United Nations WTO (UNWTO)) and other international organizations (Theobald, 2004: 15). Having none of its own doctrine, it is a discipline in making; to some scholars, it is ‘indiscipline’ (Hall, 2006: 4; Tribe, 1997: 17).

This book Challenges in Tourism Research is an effort to understand, iden-tify and analyse some of these challenges with the help of the collective wisdom of tourism scholars who have spent years in studying and researching the phenomenology of tourism.

Probing the Challenges

I adopted a two-way approach to examine nature of these challenges. One, classify them into three categories, after preparing a list of important challenges.

(1) Endogenous (internal).

(2) Exogenous (external).

(3) Conceptual (pertaining to thought and knowledge).

In the first category were included challenges like seasonality, competitiveness, governance, making and breaking of experiences and vulnerability. Category two includes war, terrorism, epidemic and factors associated with impacts from the outside world, such as climate change, knowledge production, etc. The third category includes conceptual themes, such as concept of sustainability, carrying capacity, core and periphery relationship, etc. Not all the challenges could be discussed in a single volume and therefore representative examples were selected from these categories for intensive discussion. For the second methodology, an elenctic approach was adopted.

Elenctic Approach

In this approach, the research problem is attacked by collective wisdom of inquisitive research scholars through cross examination debate and discussion (see Dann, 2013: 99). For example, at first the most pressing problem is identified with mutual discussion, say, ‘tourism is more sinned against than sinning’. Having selected a problem, some specialist in that field will be commissioned to write a comprehensive ‘research probe’ with all its pros and cons, then three to four erudites in this field would review the lead piece, react, argue and comment with their knowledge equipment. The concept of peer review was recompensed by the scholarly respondents having competitive knowledge. Finally, after deep probe, they would arrive at some conclusion. The outcomes of this critique would be a subject of further research until some tangible results are obtained

Selecting Research Themes

The selection of themes for this book was indeed a challenging task for two important reasons: (1) how to find out precise research needs of the scholars from different geographic regions; (2) the availability of high expertise on the theme that would feature in the book. In order to find a relevant theme I consulted selective curricula from different parts of the world and established an academic contact with resource persons. Thereafter, the categorized list of possible themes was sent to them to mark the most important topics, they were in search of. Based on my long experience in teaching and research, and also considering the needs of research scholars, I picked up themes as far as possible, from the three types of challenges discussed above. While identifying themes, it was felt that needs of the beginners and readers from non-tourism background should be taken care of. No effort was made to cover-up all the challenges that tourism faces, nor was it possible in the given print space.

Thus the book has 11 chapters. The earlier chapters take into account the need of the freshers and the beginners of tourism studies, while the latter chapters discuss challenges of borrowed concepts that refuse to translate into practice, such as sustainability, transfer of knowledge, carrying capacity and the like. In between the more enduring challenges of tourism are attacked, such as ‘is tourism a sinner or sinned against?’ and ‘is tourism vulnerable?’. The last chapter is broad-based and sums up the experiences of four tourism stalwarts who take up a challenge of the much asked question ‘tourism for whom?’.

Not all Travellers are Tourists

Before moving further it is advisable to remove the confusion that surrounds the term ‘traveller’, ‘tourist’ and a ‘visitor’. For a non-tourism student they are the same, but the fact is they are not synonyms. Since tourism/tourists are in focus, it is considered necessary to define it more scientifically, although it defies boundaries. For the last 50 years, since the days of League of Nations, several statistical exercises were done to finalize the definition of a tourist until the World Tourism Organization provided the following definition:

The temporary visitors staying in a place outside their usual place of residence for continued period of at least 24 hours but less than one year, for leisure, business or other purposes (WTO, 1993).

Interestingly, this definition of a tourist also holds good for a visitor. Although the above definition was largely accepted by most member nations, many did not agree to it for some cogent reasons; important being international excursionist, having the same definition as of tourist except that s/he stays less than 24 hours in the country visited. Fretchling (1976: 59) focused on three important components to make the definition precise: should have unambiguity, facilitates measurement and follows established usage very closely. Since then, these definitions created confusion and many countries redefined this definition according to their own convenience. As we can see the definition needs further refinement for precision.

From Traveller to Tourist

We have marked that a traveller is not a synonym of a tourist or a visitor. All tourists include some travel, but not all travel is tourism. Travel is timeless and embedded in human nature and is as old as human civilization. Greeks and Romans were great travellers. Plutarch informs us of Romans as Globe ramblers and how they spent lives in inns and boats. Rome grew up as an important centre of travellers. Grand Tours were popular in between 16th to 19th centuries. Adler (1985: 335–354) notes that this was a golden period of travelism, which over time yielded place to tramping, where craftsmen and workers were receiving funds, meals, beds and even jobs from their societies, if they travelled on the road on prescribed routes, for example, a journeyman in 19th century Germany was expected to be on the road for 4–5 years (Adler, 1985: 335).

Tourism is a recent phenomenon having its origins in the beginning of 19th century (Ogilvie, 1934: 66), which post-industrial society embraced enthusiastically. With the advent of railways, Thomas Cook introduced his package holiday programme and thus he ushered in an era of mass tourism that gave tourists ignominy for all their middle-class attitude and behaviourism. The tourist was in the dock, called names such as vulgar and barbarian (Boorstin, 1961; Mitford, 1959: 130–137). Even poets and novelists expressed their disgust with noisy tourist hordes; so much so that a traveller felt denigrated to be addressed as a tourist (Waugh, 1930: 44). The mass tourism experience could be called tourism, while an individual experience, travel. Francesconi (2014: 2) comments that ‘semantic borders between a tourist and traveller is more opaque than it appears’. Tuner and Ash (1975) believe that ‘a traveller is more responsible, sustainable and fulfilling activity practiced by human beings’. Fussell (1987) comments that ‘a mass tourist lives in a predictable tourist experience, ignoring serendipity, strangeness and novelty’.

We are All Post-Tourist

In Chapter 1 of this book, Scott McCabe, David Dunn and Natan Uriely go into details on the concept of ‘post-tourism’, which freshers from a non-tourism background may find confusing; hence there is a debate on tourist experiences and dilemma of authenticity. They also present a profile of a post-tourist. David Dunn challenges the idea of the relevance of a post-tourist. He argues that the term post-tourist did not succeed in creating its niche as a last category to follow on from the tourist–traveller dialectics. On the contrary, it has fuelled fire to the discussion on ‘anti-tourism’. David focuses on media representation to demonstrate how post-modernism has impacted media portrayals of places and destinations. Natan Uriely puts up a strong defence against post-tourist categorization. Uriely’s appraisal of post-tourist is on the negative side and more on its destructive impact on tourism scholarship. His strong reaction to the probe is characteristic. McCabe provides a historical analysis and declares, ‘living in post-tourism era, we are all post-tourists’. Uriely presents a meaningful discussion on ‘tourist experience’. He states that most of the research is in this area applies to a ‘phenomenological approach’, where tourist’s subjective experience is the core of the inquiry. Uriely suggests extending the phenomenological approach from the study of the ‘tourist experience’ to the study of experience in tourism.

Secular Pilgrims – an Oxymoron that Smells Profane

In Chapter 2, a group of social scientists, Dan Knox, Kevin Hannam, Peter Jan Margry and Noel Salazar critically discuss the complex oxymoronic concept of ‘secular pilgrim and hedonic tourist’. Knox and Hannam take the lead by unfolding the crust of tourist–pilgrim dichotomy, after exploring the meaning and uses of the metaphor and how these relate to religion, tourism and hedonism, and how they inter-connect. Margry disliked the phraseology of ‘secular pilgrimage’, an oxymoron that smells profane; Salazar believes that secular tourism has become ‘tourist imaginaries’. The group felt the need of extending the metaphor of the pilgrim far beyond its usefulness in understanding contemporary tourism. The fact is that neither all tourists are hedonist nor are all pilgrims pious. In the words of Turner and Turner (1978: 20) ‘a tourist is half a pilgrim if a pilgrim is half a tourist’. There are striking similarities spatially and structurally in both concepts. Both are capable of exchanging character imperceptibly – a tourist in a Hindu temple and a pilgrim in a mall shopping for his family. Keeping aside the devotional side, ‘pilgrimage also involves sightseeing, visiting diverse attractions or buying the local memorabilia’.

Digence (2006: 37) confirms that there are many shared similarities or common threads found in both traditions – faithful and secular forms of travel. Consumerism has overtaken modern society, where religion is just another marketable commodity (Olsen, 2003: 99-104). More technological changes will direly affect the traditional ethos of society; maybe, a cyber-pilgrim has not to travel all the way to the destination, he can perform the ritual sittings in his drawing room – gods and goddesses shall move to the devotee – a virtual pilgrimage that shall render pilgrim–tourist dichotomy irrelevant.

Tourism for ‘Self’ or the ‘Other’

A quirky question is begging a clear answer – why do tourists travel? Are they travelling to discover ‘themselves’ or searching for the ‘other’ or both? A most innocent response that has come up is – escape from the drudgery of everydayness. This may not be the whole truth, as a tourist may have some other cogent reasons, and that demands research, particularly in tourists’ motivation. Cohen’s (1979) five-fold typology of tourists suggests a range of diverse motivations. Gianna Moscardo (Chapter 3) covering the entire gamut of the problem, particularly in the field of psychology, concentrated her research on the ‘self’ (social identity). Graham Dann commented upon the deficiencies of Moscardo’s review of sociological literature. Bob McKercher found tourist ‘selfish’ and ‘ego-oriented’. They travel for their needs. As long as their needs are met, they will continue to travel.

The ‘other’ has been considered as a persona adopted by tourists when abroad and away from familiar surroundings (Smith et al., 2010: 150). They are in a transitory world and can abandon themselves to frolicsomeness. Krippendorf puts it nicely:

Tourists are free of all constraints ... Do as one pleases; dress, eat and spend money, celebrate and feast ... they have a good time ideology and the tomorrow, we shall be-gone attitude ... (Krippendorf, 1987: 33)

Munt (1994: 101–123) argues that search for ‘otherness’ is linked up with the quest for distinction from mass tourism. Since the ‘other’ is exotic, primitive and remote, the post-tourist searches them in laggard regions, while the process of globalization has touched even the most untouched primitiveness – a rare commodity. Helplessly, the post-modernists get nostalgic and eventually engage themselves in the past with a hope that the ‘otherness’ may be found in pre-modernity, hence the increasing popularity of heritage destinations and love of the bucolic countryside. Wheeller (1992) doubts: ‘would the past look the way in which we would like to see it?’ Past has gone out of reach and cannot be reconstructed. Heitmann (2010: 55) sums up very nicely that such a renewed past would be no better than a ‘collage of images’ of different epochs ... and only a vision of authentic life.

Where Guests Care for the Hosts

In the beginning of this millennium, a new form of tourism emerged with a name of ‘volunteer tourism’ (VT) that grew popular with the youth who longed for experiencing the realm of the ‘other’. A volunteer tourist customarily immerses himself in the host culture without being an intrusive visitor. Broadly, a volunteer tourist comes closer to Boorstein’s ‘traveller’.

In Chapter 4, Stephen Wearing, Simone Grabowski and Jennie Small are doing the lead probe; Kevin Lyons, Daniel Guttentag and Alexandra Coghlan enter into the fray to find out linkages between today’s volunteer tourists and youth travellers of yesterday. They commented that VT is growing very fast as a new avatar of travelism, reminiscent of past generations of youth. They argue that youth travellers have a preference for a personalized, authentic travel experience. Unlike mass tourism, it represents their involvement in ‘other cultures, altruism, personal development, community development and global citizenship’. They are concerned in drawing people from different cultural regions into a close relationship.

Daniel Guttentag, who presents ‘insights from the past, concerns about the present and questions for the future’, affirms that VT participants are motivated by a blend of self-interest and altruism. Guttentag paints a different picture by pronouncing VT as a business and volunteer tourists as customers. Commenting upon volunteers’ immersion in the host community, Guttentag disagrees with Wearing and his co-authors for reasons of volunteers’ inability to speak the local vernacular, and their short duration of stay. In fact, he further suggests that there is a need to examine findings regarding the VT experience with non-participants and other type of travellers.

Practically all the challengers focused on the need of research on the impact of VT on the host communities, ranging from dependency issues to sexual offences to local employment. Lyons raises the issue of altruism, which some critic believed to be a paradoxical notion to self-serving volunteers. Wearing et al. discuss the issue and assert that altruism is considered a foundational ideal of, and shall remain a dominant paradigm in, VT. He further suggests that VT may be described as ‘altruistic pleasure’.

Coghlan presses the point that the probe group should discuss more on ways to keep VT attractive to youth travellers, how to encourage sense of well-being and how to benefit local communities. Lyons and Wearing argue that charity-challenges have to be faced with meaningful alternatives. ‘Bottom-up approach’ would yield better results – that means VT organizations should find out the needs of the host communities and then match these with the right kinds of volunteers instead of getting them dumped on the project (Singh, 2012: 15-16). Unfortunately, tourism has a genius for self destruction; this has to be fortified against.

Say Not: Tourism is Vulnerable?

Chapter 5 deals with the vulnerabilities and invulnerabilities of tourism. Julio Aramberri in his lead probe hits upon the statistical vulnerability, let alone other weaknesses of tourism, such as financial crises, natural calamities, terrorism and spread of epidemic diseases (SARS, tsunami, Fukushima, Bali episode, 9/11 attack, etc.) that severely affect visitor mobilities. He commented on the inadequate methodology of data collection of various countries: for example, ‘excursionists and proper tourists are often bundled under the arrivas label’. UNWTO arrival database sidelines travel by residents (domestic tourism). Julio remarks that the UNWTO database does not tally with the WTTC (World Travel and Tourism Council), while researchers of tourism mostly depend upon them in their field researches. Nevertheless, Julio admits, UNWTO is the only organization that provides a highly structured picture of the world tourism market.

Richard Sharpley, the other challenger, in his response pronounces vulnerability as a case of pessimism. He quips that ‘tourists’ not ‘tourism’ are more susceptible to vulnerability. He asserts that it is at the level of destination where ‘true vulnerability’ exists. Small islands, because of their physical setting and ecological fragility, are more prone to vulnerability than mainlands. Sharpley states that most tourism destinations rise and fall in popularity, for some other reasons than inherent vulnerability or weaknesses – maybe owing to political upheaval, economic inability or natural disaster. However, tourism has shown a wonderful capacity to recover from such mishaps quickly.

Carson Jenkins supports the findings of Aramberri, Sharpley appreciates tourism’s resilience to many crises that have happened during the last two decades and how quickly these destinations have recovered.

Where Have All the Peripheries Gone?

Chapter 6 touches upon the theme of vanishing peripheries and the charge that tourism consumes places and cultures. With C. Michael Hall in the lead, David Harrison, David Weaver and Geoffrey Wall debate on this hot issue. Hall elaborates William Christaller’s (1963) famous core–periphery theory. It is a spatial concept and the term ‘peripherality’ refers to the urban–rural interface; both are relative terms. Cores have a high level of economic vitality. One is metropolitan in character, the other is rural and remote. Core is innovative with good infrastructure, while periphery has poor amenities and relies on imported technologies – developed ‘core’ and developing ‘periphery’.

Harrison, supporting Hall, argues that pleasure-periphery functions as recreational arena close to ‘industrial core’. He emphasizes the fact that tourism adds value to peripheral wastelands. He cites examples when, over time, peripheries change, disappear and reappear. Tourism has given new growth impulses. Wall argues that much tourism takes place in coastal peripheries and mountains. Harrison informs us that two isolated rural areas, Rimini in Italy and Alicante (Spain), got a new lease of life in tourism development.

David Weaver argues that peripherality is a contested concept. Turner and Ash (1975) gave the term currency when regions of economic and geographic marginality were ‘being mobilized and modified for recreational needs of consumers’ seeking peak experience, deep relaxation and hedonic impulses. Weaver describes these places as ‘pleasure core’ and ‘semi core’, that are in fact ‘economic periphery’. Weaver further explains that this offers geographical remoteness with a co-existing ‘pleasure-core’ that provides spiritual and ‘emotional intimacy’. When asked whether or not tourism is responsible for vanishing peripheries, the group replies that ‘tourism is but one of the several factors in transforming the picturesque peripheries’. Globalization, capitalism, urbanization and post-modernity are largely responsible for the disappearance of peripheries; conurbation syndrome seems to have devoured these attractive edges.

Richard Sharpley explores the reality in his lead probe, ‘In Defence of Tourism’; Noel Scott, Jim Macbeth and Peter Smith are the challengers (Chapter 7). Sharpley wonders why tourism has earned so much notoriety when many other sectors allegedly cause more negative impacts – social, cultural and environmental – than tourism. ‘Tourism bashing’ has become fashionable among the academics, while in journalistic circles, tourism is played down for sensationalism: such as it creates xenophobia, anomie, culturelessness, consumes places, erodes social capital, bio-diversity and so on. He continues that ‘in some cases, tourism has been made an escapegoat for the doings of many other sectors’. A plethora of tourism literature has appeared since the 1970s, depicting it more sinning than sinned against. Sharpley argues that the products of automotives and livestock are acceptable, despite their deleterious impacts, because they meet the essential needs of society. In defence of tourism he presents examples of revitalization of war-torn countries like Cambodia, Northern Ireland and Croatia. He says it is a pity that scholars have been niggardly in exposing the positive side of tourism – that it protects and preserves environment, recycles and reuses ruins, abandoned palaces and castles, revives dwindling art and craft, reduces poverty and makes remote areas accessible. There are still more benefits that tourism scholars have ascetically passed by. Noel Scott lays strong emphasis on lack of knowledge, which has been the original sin of tourism. He does not agree with Sharpley on many issues. Scott critiques Sharpley’s assertion that tourism cares for sociocultural and environmental assets of the host society and that tourism is fundamentally good.

Good governance is the answer for many ills that tourism suffers from. Knowledge is the key to success. Jim Macbeth admits that tourism is a serious industry and should be treated seriously. He argues that the vital question is not who is sinning – but what are we doing about it? Macbeth boldly admits that it is not tourism but the academics who are the sinners. Peter Smith, supporting Sharpley’s viewpoint, reaffirms that good governance can bring out desired results but that it demands coordination, cooperation and commitment from all the sub-sectors of the industry. He considers ‘mass tourism as a sinner’. Peter admits that mass tourism may have some grave negatives, but it improves the economy of the visited destinations. That said, tourism was found inevitable. It is a challenge for the researcher to find a proper remedy to make tourism good – sustainable and ethical.

The Challenge of Sustainability

The 1980s have been very crucial in the history of tourism development. It gave us ecotourism as an innocuous form of tourism that cares for nature and human welfare, and the other concept of sustainable development that emerged out of the Brundtland Commission report, Our Common Future (1987). Unfortunately, both concepts could not give tourism as much as they had promised. Ecotourism fell prey to ‘green bashing’ and sustainability suffered from definitional deficiency. Let us have a look into the aspects of sustainability phenomenon closely. First, its definition:

Sustainable development is a development that meets the needs of present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. (Brundtland, 1987)

The concept required that societies meet human needs, both by increasing productivity potential and by ensuring equitable opportunities for all. The report further emphasized that poverty, population and environmental degradation are inextricably related, and none of these problems can be successfully solved in isolation (Brundtland, 1987). Development, according to Brundtland, means ‘progressive transformation’ of economy and society without harming the environment.

The development mantra was noble and inspiring but was difficult to put into practice. More challenging was to assess the present basic needs (food, clothing and shelter) of huge populations. To foresee the future needs of people and their aspirations is a tremendous task, nor is it easy to maintain ecological integrity, social responsibility and economic viability of the ecosystems, given the ever threatening population explosion.

Opening the probe, McCool briefed the challenges about the complex concept of sustainability. He admitted that some success was achieved in the domain of small business. UNWTO has initiated a programme, Sustainable Tourism – Eliminating Poverty (ST–EP). McCool stresses the need for creating knowledge that reconciles human activities with the laws of nature. People-centred development should be encouraged that may lead to ‘authentic development’ – that means participation and intervention of the local community (with all its value and vision) should be included in framing the strategy of development. He was scrupulous of the triple bottom-line as economic feasibility was dependent on short-term market, social acceptability varies across cultures and ecological integrity needs new tools of knowledge. There are hard barriers to cross, such as ‘butterfly effect’, complexity of planet Earth, data deficit and the changeability of tentative knowledge prone to change any time.

McCool (Chapter 8) presents a resilience model that could withstand uncertainties surrounding the vulnerable complex of socio-ecological system that can be disturbed anytime by internal/external forces. Brian Wheeller partially supported the notion by invoking chaos/complex theory. Wheeller wondered how we can achieve sustainability without having any sustainable transport. Richard Butler opined that the concept of the triple bottom-line should be quadruple bottom-line – politics. The projects are subject to political acceptance. He emphasized that no sustainable development is possible without population control. Ralf Buckley considered the concept of sustainable tourism ‘either meaningless or impossible’. He commented that ‘Brundtland’s definition gained political acceptability, but at the cost of technical feasibility’.

David Weaver was sceptical about the effectiveness of our research scholars’ work whose findings have little or no impact in contributing to making the concept robust and useful. He suggested that we should spend more time in the communities and industries that embody the tourism sector of the real world. Lack of knowledge is our failing. Our paramount obligation is to create knowledge and disseminate knowledge, then alone we can capture the spirit of sustainable development of tourism, otherwise sustainable tourism will remain a holy grail.

The Challenge of Carrying Capacity

The concept of carrying capacity is very useful in fixing thresholds. It has worked well in range management, agricultural activities, parks and protected areas. At some European destinations, recreational carrying capacity has been pretty successful. Such experiences can be used as benchmark for the developing societies (Coccossis & Mexa, 2004: 19).

Chapter 9 is devoted to the challenges of carrying capacity. Ralf Buckley takes up the lead; Sagar Singh, Gene Brothers and Simon McArthur accepts the challenge. Buckley presents origins of carrying capacity and its application. He advises that the concept should be redefined, if it has to be used in tourism; it will include social, economic and environmental measures that are not easy to assess. He asserts that the optimum number has to be respected so that tourism destinations remain in the state of stability and enjoy longevity of life. Every one of the challengers accepted that carrying capacity for tourism (CCT) is in its nascent stage, and needs well directed and result-oriented efforts. Simon McArthur as a practitioner offered down-to-earth advice, not to rely on carrying capacity (CC) solely for measurement of tourism – use it as a last resort. Based on his rich ground experiences, Simon suggested alternative models such as limits of acceptable change (LAC), visitor impact management model (VIMM), visitor activity management programme (VAMP), visitor experience and resource protection model (VERP) and tourism optimization management model (TOMM). McArthur argued that each model had some ‘flip-flop’ response and constraints in their implementation, except TOMM which is broad-based in coverage. He affirmed that TOMM has produced successful results at many destinations in Australia, such as Kangaroo Island, Dryandra Woodland, Sydney Harbour National Park, etc. TOMM is not only broad in coverage, but also focuses on optimizing performance rather than limiting use. Simon also mentions several constraints in the adoption and successful implementation of the model. He presents several tables to explain how to select an appropriate model in different situations.

Concurring with Buckley, Simon concludes that transitioning CC from grazing management to the management of visitors is a challenging task. Singh in his response comes up with a formula based on Western’s formula of CC that offers a promise of sustainability, which needs testing.

Brother’s universe is large – Tragedy of the Commons, which he thinks is more useful than the agricultural analogy for tourism carrying capacity. He pleads for the use of CC with four-step process: (1) engaging local stakeholders; (2) benefits of development to the residents than investors; (3) document the desired state; and (4) monitoring indicators.

The Challenge of Knowledge Transfer

Chapter 10 reveals that knowledge creation, dissemination and transfer are the keys to success in any enterprise. They give a competitive edge over others. It is unfortunate that the notion of knowledge management arrived late in tourism. Chris Cooper in his lead piece, and Lisa Ruhanen and Noel Scott address the key challenges on this issue. Cooper explains why the tourism sector is slow in adopting knowledge management, discusses imperatives of knowledge transfer for tourism and how to achieve knowledge transfer. He then focuses on core tourism knowledge and how to make decisions. Cooper observes that very often knowledge provided by researchers is too academic, complex and deficient in delivery; tourism product is fragmented among the variety of producers. He emphasizes that the knowledge that we generate as researchers must be of true relevance to the sector, then alone academic research shall be able to influence the real world of tourism.

Lisa Ruhanen deals with the role of knowledge transfer on climate change and sustainability. Much research has been conducted in this field, yet much more remains to be done. Many stakeholders have a meagre understanding of the sustainability concept, let alone how to practice it (Ruhanen, 2013: 80–98). Relevance of the concept can be meaningful when quantitative indicators, benchmark, audits assessments and appraisals are in place (McCool & Moisey, 2008). She refers to the UN-based programme ‘education for sustainable development’ and believes that educational efforts shall bear fruit. It is unfortunate that ‘there is a lack of research on knowledge management of tourism and climate change’ (Hernandez & Ryan, 2011: 86). Climate change poses a huge challenge to sustainable development – effective knowledge transfer can fill this gap.

Noel Scott takes a different view on the issue. While agreeing with Cooper on the tourism sector being research-averse in knowledge transfer, he adds that many scholars do not want to engage with the industry and wish to contribute to ‘new academics’ and ‘theoretical knowledge’. Scott notes that unfortunately tourism managers are ill-equipped in new knowledge.

Tourism for Whom: The Unmet Challenge

Chapter 11, ‘Tourism for whom?’ is not about research, but the sharing of research experiences of four distinguished tourism research virtuosos – Richard Butler, C. Michael Hall, Geoffrey Wall and John Swarbrooke who have spent a major part of their lives in doing research and teaching.

This out-moded but meaningful topic was given for discussion and comments. The authors were requested to quintessentially sum up the probe discussions, adding their personal experiences. Richard Butler, in his tell-tale style, elaborates a few topics, such as transportation, health, crowding and the aspect of change. He lays stress that good and bad tourism move in tandem. It is for the tourism maker to bring out good from the undesirable system. Unfortunately, people develop amnesia for the good in tourism and remember the ugly and the bad. Mark Antony, in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, puts it nicely, ‘the evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interr’d with the bones’. To answer the question, Butler responded sardonically: ‘Nothing, apart from employment, investment, enjoyment, improved access to destinations ...’. He emphasized that the change is inevitable ‘for’ tourism, ‘by’ tourism or ‘by’ the inexorable laws of nature. The change for the good of mankind should be welcomed. He forewarned against the challenge of touristic culture; how to retain it and transmit to future generations.

C. Michael Hall exposes the theme in a dramatic vein and emphasized that good or bad is not implicit in the theme, it depends on the viewpoint of the beholder. Dealing with the theme he goes philosophic to explain the concept of ‘academic capitalism’, how tourism knowledge is produced, who produces it and how it is being utilized. He goes on to describe the huge dimension of tourism, that it is grounded in capitalism, global in scope and questions why people are immobile. He informs that the study of tourism goes beyond producing only labour force for the industry, but we all need able knowledge creators and knowledge managers for better development of tourism.

Wall does not agree wholly with Butler although he does admit that tourism has done ‘a lot for us’, not unmixed with ills. Wall points out that the biggest shortcoming of tourism is definitional deficiency that causes many statistical vulnerabilities. He introspects that much of his research in the past was on impacts, but it was mostly covering negative consequences. Wall wonders how, without scientific criteria, tourism can be proclaimed as the largest industry of the world. It is not easy to ‘move from data to information to knowledge’. The industry also uncritically claims that tourism creates more employment than any other industry in the world. These are self-serving statistical lies. Considering this lacunae, major research users maintain their own research cell. Wall emphasizes that because of these shortcomings, real impacts are hard to find. Citing his Bali experience, he noted several changes in the society within a short period of time that were attributed to tourism. Such statement demands empirical findings to be authentic so that they do not look stochastic.

John Swarbrooke explains the peculiar paradox of tourism and asks ‘are we going to use tourism or to be used by tourism?’. On a personal note, he feels that tourism has provided us (academic community) livelihood and opportunity to travel. Let not its frailties be remembered, tourism has been good to us in many ways: in fact, we as scholars should be blamed, not tourism. He recounted how researchers have failed in defining most useful concepts like carrying capacity, sustainability and acquiring new knowledge. Ecotourism was the best gift of tourism to humankind, but it too has been green washed. It is not wise to blame tourism for the failure of scholarship. He admonished that debates, discourses, discussion and dialogue help create new ideas for a better management of tourism business.


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Chapter 1

I Am a Traveller, You Are a Visitor, They Are Tourists But Who Are Post-Tourists?

Scott McCabe, David Dunn and Natan Uriely


Perhaps an alternative title for this chapter could have been, ‘what is the contribution of post-modern thinking to our understanding of tourist experience?’ Tourists are all around us, both in the physical sense as the statisticians of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) continually allude to resilient growth in international tourism, and in the world of representation, the media and the internet, increasingly so in online social networks. Yet, has 40 years of theorizing about the nature of tourist experience led to any deeper understanding about the meaning of tourism and travel for people? Has post-modern theorizing led to a more complete understanding of the relationships between types of tourist experiences to cultural life and social change? The articles in this chapter try to address these essential questions.

In essence, the three articles highlight three distinct approaches to understanding the nature of tourist experience in the context of the post-tourist and the debates concerning post-modern tourism. Scott McCabe argues that role theory has the power to relate how travel is intertwined with our sense of identity. David Dunn focuses on media representations to show how aspects of the post-modern inflect media portrayals of places or destinations. Natan Uriely defends the contribution of post-modern thinking through the applied use of phenomenological methodologies. The articles in this chapter highlight that the concept of the post-tourist, while compelling and reflective of aspects of the ironic, dedifferentiated and pluralistic plasticity of the contemporary experience, has only partial value as an explanatory construct. Yet there are signs that we are moving towards a better understanding of the meaning of tourist experiences, which are outlined in the following texts.


Are We All Post-Tourists Now? Tourist Categories, Identities and Post-Modernity

Scott McCabe

What’s in a name? The answer of course is quite important when the name in question represents a human action that has some significance for a person’s identity. In such cases the name attached to the activity takes on a different quality of meaning. Names become invested with characteristics and emotions, entitlements and duties, norms and expectations, rendering them with a transformative and expressive set of functions. Therefore, social scientists assess the significance of categories of social actions such as ‘tourist’, ‘visitor’ or ‘traveller’ for such distinctive features, qualities and meanings, both to users themselves and for their potential to inform debates about social or market trends, and their consequences.

A different meaning is attached to the name ‘post-tourist’ however, since this is not a lay sociological construct but a theoretical/analytical category. But to what extent does the concept of a post-tourist offer social science an alternative or productive lens through which to theorize categorizations of tourist actions or experiences? This chapter aims to address the concept of post-tourist as an analytical category, first through a discussion of tourist typologies and then through a consideration of tourist roles to assess the applicability of this construct in tourism social science.

Tourist Typologies

The debate concerning typologies of tourist and the nature of tourist experience has an enduring quality. Each new book launched on an ever-more esoteric type of tourism – ‘slow’ tourism, ‘ski’ tourism, ‘tea’ tourism – is likely to elicit debate about the extent and meaningfulness of any distinction between different types and forms of tourist experience. The reason for this opprobrium presumably being that a focus on typologies is misdirected at the expense of understanding the meanings attached to tourist experiences.

A tendency towards business and management issues in tourism studies has perhaps led to a conflation between categorical thinking and categorizing behaviour. Typologies of tourist experience proliferate perhaps without getting any closer to understanding what travel means to people or to understanding how travel tastes and behaviour help explain structural change within societies, the overarching aim of sociological theorizing. As Urry argued, the study of the tourist ‘... presupposes a system of social activities and signs which locate the particular tourist practices, not in terms of some intrinsic characteristics, but through the contrasts implied with non-tourist social practices, particularly those based within home and paid work’ (Urry & Larsen, 2011: 3). However, tourism and tourist’s experiences have been transformed by the global processes of modernity into such a huge variety of forms that meanings are difficult to disentangle. This has surely been the consequence of the post-modern dream turned into lurid reality?

If a consequence of post-modern thinking is a rejection of grand narratives in favour of pluralism, an abandonment of scientific reasoning for relativism, a breaking down of the barriers separating forms of high and low culture (Ritzer & Liska, 1997), a collapsing of space–time to bring other cultures from distant places and situations into the everyday realm (Baumann, 2000), a de-differentiation between the meanings attached to activities of everyday life and extraordinary events (Uriely, 2005), then how are we to generate coherent overarching theories about the meaning of categories of touristic actions and activities? Each type of tourist/traveller becomes equally applicable as a descriptor of some kind of activity, without necessarily moving forward the debates about tourism’s significance to social life. This creates a tension in theorizing, since such thinking seems antithetical to progress in theory development.

However, the tourist all the same has become a perfect symbol of post-modernity. Technology (chiefly internet technology) has driven transformations in communication and, importantly for tourism, how we understand and relate to different people, places and to ourselves, de-exoticizing and demythologizing others so that we can better understand ourselves. Technological progress has accelerated the pace of change, such that transformations heralded within the last generation (25–30 years) have become hyper-inflated. It is now difficult to imagine a world that is unknowable or to understand the challenges faced by tourists of the mid-1980s,

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