The Moralisation of Tourism: Sun, Sand ... and Saving the World?

The Moralisation of Tourism: Sun, Sand ... and Saving the World?

The Moralisation of Tourism: Sun, Sand ... and Saving the World?

The Moralisation of Tourism: Sun, Sand ... and Saving the World?


This text responds to some of the criticisms made of tourism. It focuses on the counter position of 'new' forms of tourism: ecotourism, alternative tourism, community tourism and ethical tourism, which have been presented as morally superior alternatives to the package holiday.


New Moral Tourism is preoccupied with 'culture'. Cultural diversity is deemed to have been diminished by modernity and its handmaiden, Mass Tourism. This chapter looks at the way a conception of culture generated in more developed countries colours the way western New Moral Tourists interpret their leisure travel experiences. Put simply, there is a distinct disillusionment with modernity in the west that is superimposed upon countries yet to benefit from the modern.

Furthermore, the chapter suggests that ironically the conception of culture implicit in New Moral Tourism, with its emphasis on otherness, restricts the very thing the New Moral Tourist holds dear - the ability to learn from and empathise with one's hosts.

The question of culture

Central to the advocacy of New Moral Tourism is the question of culture. a wide-ranging body of literature has emerged in relatively recent years highlighting the 'cultural impacts' of both tourism developments and the tourists themselves. This is paralleled by the adoption of cultural impacts as the primary argument against Mass Tourism by critical commentators, academics and concerned campaigners alike.

Tourism development is often considered to have ridden roughshod over environmental objections and over the natural landscape itself. the loss of diversity arising from this is of great concern to environmentalists. Development is also accused of riding roughshod over cultures. Again, allegations that tourism has acted in this way, leading to a loss of diversity in the cultural landscape, are prominent.

However, the discussion of cultural impacts is not wholly distinct from that of environmental ones. As we have seen in chapter 3, the environmental critique of tourism is often presented through a discourse focussing on culture and community. in this discussion, culture is presented as embodying the relationship between people and their particular natural surroundings often in a static fashion - change to one or other is eschewed as damaging to both.

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