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What is IDENTITY TOURISM? What does IDENTITY TOURISM mean? IDENTITY TOURISM meaning & explanation


Source: article, adapted under license.

Identity tourism research dates back to a 1984 special issue of Annals of Tourism Research guest edited by Pierre L. van den Berghe and Charles F. Keyes This volume examines the ways in which tourism intersects with the (re-)formation and revision of various forms of identity, particularly ethnic and cultural identities. Since that time, various scholars have examined the intersection between dimensions of identity and tourism. An important early contribution to the study of identity tourism was Lanfant, Allcock and Bruner's 1995 edited volume "International Tourism, Identity and Change". As with the Keyes and van den Berghe special issue of Annals of Tourism Research, this volume moved us away from studying the impact of tourism on identity to investigating the intersection of tourism and identity in more dynamic ways, among other things looking at how "local" and "tourist" identities are mutually-constructed. Likewise, Michel Picard and Robert Wood's path-breaking edited volume "Tourism, Ethnicity and the State in Asian and Pacific Societies" (1997, University of Hawaii Press), examined the ways in which tourism intersections with ethnic, cultural, regional and national identities, as well as with the political agendas of Pacific island and Southeast Asian states. Abrams, Waldren and Mcleod's 1997 volume Tourists and Tourism: Identifying with People and Places also offered compelling case studies examining issues surrounding the construction of identity in the context of tourism. Among other things the chapters in their volume investigated tourists' views of themselves and others in the course of their travels, the relationship of travelers to resident populations, and the ways in which tourists' quests for authenticity are entangled with their own sensibilities about their own identities.

Various case studies of tourism and identity merit mention here. Edward Bruner's 2001 article "The Masai and the Lion King: Authenticity, Nationalism and Globalization in African Tourism" offers a penetrating examination of how various Kenyan tourist sites entail displays of particular identities ("Masai" "Colonialist" etc.) and how tourists' engagements with these identity displays are varied, nuanced and complex, articulating with their own narratives, sensibilities about African heritage and quests. Kathleen M. Adams' 2006 work on tourism, identity and the arts in Toraja, Indonesia illustrates how tourism is drawn upon by different members of the community to elaborate different dimensions of identity. In "Art as Politics: Re-crafting tourism, identities and power in Tana Toraja, Indonesia", Adams documents how tourism challenges older elite identities in the community, reconfiguring artistic and ritual symbols once associated with elites as broader symbols of Toraja ethnic group identity. Amanda Stronza's 2008 work on tourism and identity in the Amazon has illustrated how tourism appears to be causing new differentiation of identities within the community she researched (see "Through a New Mirror: Reflections on Tourism and Identity in the Amazon"). A 2011 edited volume by Burns and Novelli also offers a number of case studies on the topic of tourism and social identities.

The emergence of the internet as a venue of identity expression is also relevant to the theme of tourism and identity. A 2011 edited volume on Tourism Social Media: Transformations in Identity, Community and Culture by hospitality and business school scholars spotlights some of these issues, as Moreover, there are various programs and applications, such as chat rooms, forums, MUDs, MOOs, MMORPGs, and others in which a user is allowed to establish an identity in that particular space. This online identity could be different from a user's physical identity in race, gender, height, weight or even species. In chat rooms and forums, a user creates their identity through text and the way they interact with others. In MMORPGs, users create a visual representation of their identity, an avatar. This allows users to easily tour more than just ethnic and cultural identities.
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