Destinations: Cultural Landscapes of Tourism

By Greg Ringer | Go to book overview

8

MAKING THE PACIFIC

Globalization, modernity and myth

C. Michael Hall

In the minds of many Western tourists the idea of the Pacific conjures up impressions of swaying tropical palm trees, white sand beaches, warm, crystal-clear waters and, possibly, dusky maidens in grass skirts or sarongs. This stereotypical and highly gendered image of “paradise” has been consistently portrayed over many years, not only in tourist advertising but also in many other forms of image making, such as film, newspapers and magazines, novels and even academic works. Such images are an inherent part of the tourism phenomenon which, perhaps more than any other business, is based on the production, reproduction and reinforcement of images.

Consequently, these conceptions of tourist places serve to project the “other” into the lives of consumers and, if successful, will assist in setting the socially constructed boundaries of a network of attractions referred to as “destination.” Otherness is an essential component of tourism, for “[e]ncounters with the ‘other’ have always provided fuel for myths and mythical language. Contemporary tourism has developed its own promotional lexicon and repertoire of myths” (Selwyn 1993:136). For the vast majority of people, otherness makes the destination attractive for consumption by establishing its distinctiveness.

Ironically, though, while “large numbers of tourists may be attracted to the region by its perceived ‘differentness,’ lured by the images of culture and landscape which are vividly portrayed in the promotional literature, few are able or willing to tolerate a great deal of novelty” (Hitchcock et al. 1993:3). At the same time, the process of “producing” cultural landscapes for tourist consumption makes one dependent on the other, for there can be no consumption without production: “It is apparent that they merge in many places and that each process certainly does have effects on the others even if they are causal or may never ever be explicable” (Laurier 1993:272). Any meaningful understanding of the creation of the destination, therefore, involves situating the artfully constructed representation of that destination within the context

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