Mapping Tourism

Mapping Tourism

Mapping Tourism

Mapping Tourism

Excerpt

Tourism maps are everywhere. They are materially produced by tourism organizations and woven through the conversations people have when asking for directions. We are greeted by examples of these popular cartographies in mass mailings, at highway rest stops, and, of course, on the Internet. While stopping for a meal near an interstate off-ramp, we may, for example, find a tourism map under our breakfasts or dinners (see Figure I.1). Whether intended to inform and entertain, to distract the customer from slow restaurant service, or merely to collect grease and crumbs, this place mat/map lays out Virginia's tourism attractions for consumption. From the Stonewall Jackson Shrine to Virginia Beach, from George Washington's birthplace to Skyline Drive, the state's nature and history are represented as points of interest. In fact, between the blue icons representing tourism sites and the red text accompanying these icons, Virginia appears to contain nothing but sites for the tourist to explore.

But what does a tourism map produced by a restaurant supply company tell us? As we sip our coffee we may learn, or be reminded, that Virginia is “The Old Dominion” and that despite being named for a virgin queen, she is the “mother of presidents.” If we are tourists, perhaps one of the icons will jump out at us, leading us to consider making a detour to see Thomas Jefferson's home or the site of Lee's surrender at Appomatox.

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