Smart writing about tourism
July 14, 2019 12:00 PM   Subscribe

I'm writing about the burgeoning concept of "overtourism," and I'm looking for smart academic writing about the impact of tourism -- not just economically, but also culturally, socially, etc.

I'm writing about domestic tourism, but work that focuses on an international context could work, too. I'm particularly interested in small/rural destinations, but again, that's not exclusive.

I'm not so much looking for journalism or essays (like, for instance, those recent New Yorker stories about Barcelona & the Northern Lights -- although I loved them!) as much as higher-level theory or academic work that might put pieces like that in a bigger framework. If that makes sense.

Thanks in advance!
posted by attentionplease to Society & Culture (9 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Oo, I highly recommend The Tourist Gaze 3.0 (Urry and Larsen, 2011). The book is about why we value "extraordinary experiences", the mechanism by which touristic sites become considered "extraordinary", and the relationship between tourists and locals. This newer version (3.0) also addresses how photography and knowledge of an audience mediates the experience for tourists. The writing is from a sociology perspective and brings up so many interesting points to consider, especially about how local awareness of the tourist gaze impacts development and behavior.
posted by past unusual at 1:47 PM on July 14, 2019 [5 favorites]

The classic -- maybe dated a bit, but lays out the theoretical issues that get taken up forever -- is Maccannel's The Tourist .
posted by nantucket at 2:00 PM on July 14, 2019

Here is a 600 page book, freely accessible. It is a scholarly account of positive and negative impacts of global tourism as an industry.
Light reading to start with ;)
posted by SaltySalticid at 5:21 PM on July 14, 2019

So, it's not academic, strictly speaking, but if you are looking for larger context related to rural America, maybe try Brave New West by Jim Stiles (2007).

Stiles provides a bridge between the Arches National Monument (pre-National Park) chapters of Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire and the contemporary challenges of tourism growth in Moab, Utah. It reads more like a eulogy for something already lost, but provides a compelling argument that tourism is just as extractive as mining or ranching in this formerly isolated region. The Amazon summary is fairly accurate to the content of the book.

I don't know if it is helpful to your work, but you may also find the visitation statistics for the National Parks to be interesting. Across the Colorado Plateau parks (Zion, Arches, etc), at least, there are some correlations to be made to the widespread adoption of Facebook and Instagram, though I am sure there are other factors, as well.
posted by chuke at 5:55 PM on July 14, 2019 [1 favorite]

Not sure if you're interested in the climate angle given that transportation is an increasingly large sector of emissions, but you might find that "hypermobility" is a useful phrase to look for in the literature.
posted by mostly vowels at 5:57 PM on July 14, 2019

I can't remember specific examples, but writing on the effects of tourism on Venice goes back at least a hundred years
posted by sepviva at 6:12 AM on July 15, 2019

I don't have a reference, but I have heard a lot about how tourism in Iceland has made it challenging for locals to afford rents as locals are putting rentable units on AirB&B at higher rates than the local economy can afford.
posted by terrapin at 9:01 AM on July 15, 2019

I have heard a lot about how tourism in Iceland has made it challenging for locals to afford rents as locals are putting rentable units on AirB&B at higher rates than the local economy can afford.

The proliferation of short-term rental that have displaced local residents is definitely a very big and very well-documented problem in New Orleans. I imagine it is the case in many other big tourist cities, but as someone who used to live in New Orleans, I know many people who were pushed out of their rental houses because their landlord could make more money turning it into an AirBNB. And there was already a post-Katrina affordable housing crisis.
posted by mostly vowels at 5:15 PM on July 15, 2019

Not academic, but you might enjoy the overtourism tag on Skift, a travel & hospitality industry publication.
posted by wowenthusiast at 1:01 PM on July 17, 2019

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