Anthropological Perspective of Tourism

Despite the enormous importance of tourism in the world economy and its great importance for students of social change and cultural contact, the anthropology of tourism has only really developed since the 1970s. Until that relatively recent past, tourism It was not considered a central or even serious field in anthropology, but it is a fascinating subject that raises a number of theoretical questions at the very heart of anthropology.

If tourism is defined simply as a pleasure trip, certain interesting characteristics of tourism emerge as a special form of social relations:

1 Tourism implies transience. It is a form of temporary nomadism in which tourists abandon their normal life and social environment and interact with the natives in their homelands. In Jafar Jafari terms, the tourist space is the intersection of the extraordinary life of the tourist with the ordinary life of the native (Jafari 1987).

2 Tourism is characterized by encounters between strangers who do not expect a lasting relationship and whose transactions tend to be instrumental, limited in purpose, are not repeated, and therefore open to mutual attempts at manipulation for short-term profit (a situation that is often defined as cheated or exploited).

3 Tourists and natives are almost always very different from each other in culture, language, religion, social class and a variety of other social and cultural characteristics. In fact, it is often these same differences that make the natives interesting to tourists. Especially ethnic tourism is a search for the exotic other.

4 Due to these cultural and social differences between tourists and indigenous people, tourism is a form of ethnic relations where communication is frequently hindered or truncated by linguistic barriers and multiple forms of misunderstanding and infractions of the normal rules of interaction. Thus, tourist relationships are often unknown or subject to simplified or truncated interaction codes, such as the use of pidgin or sign language. Often they are mutual stereotypes, irritation and low expectations, but also pleasure and fun in the face of the unexpected and unknown. Tourists and natives put on a show with each other, in ways that are often more self-conscious than in normal everyday interaction.

5 Tourist – native interactions are not only qualitatively truncated, but in most cases are spatially segregated. The vast majority of tourists are concentrated in a limited number of “points of interest” and in a small range of specialized facilities (hotels, restaurants, travel agencies, means of transport). Few tourists, however, seek to penetrate beyond this tourist scene.

6 Tourist – native interactions are characterized by compensatory asymmetries. Tourists almost always enjoy more

by Abdullah Sam
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