Academic journal article European Journal of Tourism Research

Touring beyond the Nation: A Transnational Approach to European Tourism History

Academic journal article European Journal of Tourism Research

Touring beyond the Nation: A Transnational Approach to European Tourism History

Article excerpt

Zuelow, E. G. E. (ed.) (2011) Touring Beyond the Nation: a Transnational Approach to European Tourism History. Ashgate. 250 pp. ISBN 978-0754666561

"Tourism Beyond the Nation" has the strengths and weaknesses of a typical edited book. The strength is that the authors are permitted more freedom and, therefore, can be more creative than they would be in the more restrictive format of the peer-reviewed journal. The weakness of such books is that they do not always read as an integrated document. As a result, there are some useful and fascinating chapters in the book, although it would be hard to imagine a person reading the book from cover to cover.

The book is divided into eleven chapters. The first chapter, written by the editor, introduces the theme and explains the logic of how the rest of the book is structured. What is noteworthy about this introductory chapter is that it is more interesting than most introductory chapters in edited books. I would say that the author makes the topic more interesting to most readers, since some tourism history and analysis is also included in this first chapter. This introductory chapter encourages readers to read the rest of the book, rather than just offer a dry introduction doing little more than informing the reader of the structure of the book and wasting ink and paper.

The theme of the book is interesting, although some of the chapters deal more directly with the theme than others. If one were to ignore the theme of the book, the book would still have interesting chapters and information for many readers.

The chapters, apart from the introductory one, are structured under three different sections/parts. The first part is "Transnational Spaces: from Mountains to World's Fairs" and it deals with different histories-the history of the seaside resort, the history of nudism at Cap D'Agde, the history of alpine resorts, and the history of world's fairs. Chapter Two is a history of the modern seaside resorts and its evolution as a location for the modern tourist. It makes for interesting reading, dealing with such issues as the cultural clash that eventually led to the acceptance of the bikini as acceptable beachwear. This chapter is actually quite interesting, since readers can imagine parallels in today's world with some of the cultural clashes occurring within Europe in the previous century.

Chapter Three focuses upon the evolution of nudism in France at Cap D'Agde and the ongoing issues faced by the various groups involved in this-the host population's desire for economic benefit but with concerns regarding traditional conceptualizations of decency, fragmentation between the different types of tourists (swingers and naturists), and the difficulties faced by local authorities balancing economic benefits with pressures to uphold decency laws. In effect, this is a history that deals with the common issue of economics, cultural clashes, and political responses that are common in a typical tourism development scenario but at an exaggerated level, since nudity plays a central role.

Chapter Four is an interesting exploration of alpine tourism, discussing the invention of the use of altitude as a principle to develop a tourism product and Switzerland's attainment of a privileged position in alpine tourism. Chapter Five explores the history of world's fairs in Europe between 1851 and 1937, the history of them and issues dealing with cultural interchange in the fair's setting.

The second part is "Selling the National in a Transnational Context." This second part is composed of three chapters. Chapter Six is an exploration of Budapest and its tourism promotion from 1885-1940. Chapter Seven gives a history of tourism in France and how the public and private sectors functioned to deal with international tourism and publicize the French product abroad from the early 20th century. Chapter Eight deals with Ireland and the development of the tourism product of Ireland, highlighting where ideas for tourism development came from. …

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