The role of tourism in the formation of local and tourist culture and landscapes is the focus of the collection of papers in this special issue of Tourism Geographies, all of which were submitted independently to the journal in the past year or so. They generally fall within human geography perspectives, especially in the realm of more traditional, and sometimes less critical, cultural geography. Cultural geography is traditionally juxtaposed with geographic studies that have more of an economic or development emphasis and those that are more akin to physical geography, the latter of which is often positioned in the realm of climate science when addressing tourism topics. Development geography and environmental geography are also essential geographic topics and future special issues of how they relate to tourism are planned for Tourism Geographies.
Overall, the 10 articles that comprise this special issue provide insight into the contemporary scope of interests found in much of the intersection of tourism and cultural geography. That intersection is clearly focused on the ways that place images and destination identities are formed and practiced. To varying degrees, this theme pervades many of the articles in this special issue, starting with Lacey, Weiler, and Peel's (2014) study of the creation of tourism spaces and identities through the experientiality of alternative tourists in rural Kenya, as well as Barbini and Presutti's (2014) look at the leveraging of brand engagement in an unconventional attraction in Lynchburg, Virginia. Both of these examples also point to the significance of networking among tourists and destinations in building strength in peripheral and ‘under the radar’ areas. These alternative cultural networks stand in contrast, but perhaps share some important methods, with mass cultural image, including various forms of popular media, such as the movies and novels identified by Frost and Laing (2014) that are being used to give tourism identities to rural villages in the British Isles. Hammett (2014), on the other hand, demonstrates the potential downside of the mass media's role in defining destinations through the example of news portrayals of South Africa during the 2010 FIFA world cup.
While global images that attempt to leverage mega sporting events may have mixed results, sports often have a much more positive impact on the cultural identity of places where they provide a framework for seasonality and social practices, as Hinch and Ramshaw (2014) show in the case of Canada with its distinctive Canadian-style football and Arctic Winter Games. These sports provide local, regional and national identities that contribute to a Canadian sense of place. Sports can even be a religion to some, though actual religious landscapes often have even deeper significance for history, identity and contemporary place meanings. Jokela (2014) articulates this in the case of the historical churches of Helsinki. The diversity of the contemporary church landscape found in that city portrays its complicated history and offers a stage for locals and tourists alike to perform that history. Through the persistent interplay of built heritage and human practice (both individual and social), new cultural landscapes are created around historic sport venues and churches.
From emerging alternative images to mass consumer images, and then back again to local heritage, tourism is seen to be a major part of how people, both tourists and locals alike, perceive, experience and create places. The next set of articles in this special issue focus on the way that locals and tourism (and tourists, of course) directly meet, interact, contest and dialogue to create new forms of place attraction, landscape and identity. In the first example of this, Hao, Alderman, and Long (2014) look at how property owners (many of whom are second home owners) in an amenity-rich rural community in North Carolina weigh the pros and cons of impending tourism development. This is followed by Monterrubio and Andriotis’ (2014) more contentious survey of how residents of Acapulco, Mexico, weigh the pros and cons of the very real impacts of hedonistic American college youths who come to their city during the US college spring break holidays. In both North Carolina and Mexico, the economic benefits that tourism accrues is clearly recognized as a cost to traditional cultural norms and life, but one that they also show resilience by expressing agency to shape the future trajectory of the emerging cultural landscapes of their distinctly different places.
The flip side of the host–guest perception is seen in the experience of middle-class Indian youth tourists who visit Goa, India, to perform what de Groot and van der Horst (2014) describe as a narrative of anti-traditionalism. This same narrative is likely a deep part of the American spring break phenomenon, as well. The scripted nature of such escapes, while perhaps a bit extreme in these two cases, underlies much of the way mass tourist culture is played out throughout the world, as seen in the performance and experience of tourists and the tourism industry. Vainikka (2014) shows how this is articulated on a daily basis through the travel agents and their relationship to mass tourists and mass tourism. That, however, does not make it any less of a highly multifaceted and dynamically changing phenomenon, and one that can tell us much about human nature and the relationship between people and place.
And that is what cultural geography, with its essence in lived human landscapes, is really all about. Despite only 10 articles (if published as a book at a later date, more articles might be added to this collection), the range of topics and perspectives covered in this special issue provides an overview and insight into some of the major themes that human and cultural geographers pursue in understanding place, people, culture and society through tourism. Although the theoretical frameworks of critical human geography were not always clearly articulated in these articles, the underlying goals of uncovering and revealing the hidden contradictions of our taken-for-granted world were evident, providing the insights necessary to inform and create a better appreciation and understanding of tourism spaces and places.
- 1. Barbini, F. M., & Presutti, M. (2014). Transforming a peripheral area in an emerging tourism destination. Tourism Geographies, this volume. doi:10.1080/14616688.2014.888589 [Taylor & Francis Online]
- 2. Crang, M. (2014). Cultural geographies of tourism. In A. A. Lew, C. M. Hall, & A. M. Williams (Ed.), The Wiley-Blackwell companion to tourism (pp. 66–77). Oxford: Blackwell. [CrossRef]
- 3. de Groot, M., & van der Horst, H. (2014). Indian youth in Goa: Scripted performances of ‘true selves’. Tourism Geographies, this volume. doi:10.1080/14616688.2013.868028 [Taylor & Francis Online]
- 4. Frost, W., & Laing, J. (2014). Fictional media and imagining escape to rural villages. Tourism Geographies, this volume. doi:10.1080/14616688.2013.823458 [Taylor & Francis Online]
- 5. Hammett, D. (2014). Tourism images and British media representations of South Africa. Tourism Geographies, this volume. doi:10.1080/14616688.2012.762688 [Taylor & Francis Online]
- 6. Hao, H., Alderman, D. H., & Long, P. (2014). Homeowner attitudes toward tourism in a mountain resort community.Tourism Geographies, this volume. doi:10.1080/14616688.2013.823233 [Taylor & Francis Online]
- 7. Hinch, T., & Ramshaw, G. (2014). Heritage sport tourism in Canada. Tourism Geographies, this volume. doi:10.1080/14616688.2013.823234 [Taylor & Francis Online]
- 8. Jokela, S. E. (2014). Tourism and identity politics in the Helsinki churchscape. Tourism Geographies, this volume. doi:10.1080/14616688.2013.865070 [Taylor & Francis Online]
- 9. Lacey, G. T., Weiler, B., & Peel, V. (2014). Revealing hidden attractions in a rural Kenyan periphery. Tourism Geographies, this volume. doi:10.1080/14616688.2013.867529 [Taylor & Francis Online]
- 10. Lew, A. A. (2014). Social theories of tourist practice, experience, and landscapes encounters. In A. A. Lew, C. M. Hall, & A. M. Williams (Ed.), The Wiley-Blackwell companion to tourism (pp. 191–196). Oxford: Blackwell. [CrossRef]
- 11. Monterrubio, J. C., & Andriotis, K. (2014). Social representations and community attitudes towards spring breakers. Tourism Geographies, this volume. doi:10.1080/14616688.2014.889208 [Taylor & Francis Online]
- 12. Vainikka, V. (2014). Travel agent discourses of mass tourism: Beyond stereotypes? Tourism Geographies, this volume. doi:10.1080/14616688.2014.888466 [Taylor & Francis Online]