This book investigates the way localities are shaped and negotiated through tourism, and explores the emerging success of local peer-produced hospitality and tourism services which are transforming the tourist experience. Tourists are now being brought into much closer contact with locals and have new opportunities to experience the community at their destination. This book examines these place experiences and travel-sharing arrangements that have now spread globally due to the use of social communication platforms such as Airbnb. It analyses the existence of global communities of 'place experts' that are redefining the organisational structures, value systems, market opportunities, affordabilities and geographies in travel and tourism. This volume brings together the work of established tourism scholars as well as early career researchers and is one of the first books to examine the global-local relationship at tourism destinations and the way that the rapidly developing field of peer-to-peer tourism is transforming tourist destinations.
About the Author
Antonio Paolo Russo is a tenured Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography at the University Rovira i Virgili, Tarragona, Spain. His research interests include tourism and culture, cities and local development.
Greg Richards is Professor of Placemaking and Events at NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences, Netherlands and Professor of Leisure Studies at the University of Tilburg, Netherlands. He specialises in cultural and creative tourism.
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Reinventing the Local in Tourism
Producing, Consuming and Negotiating Place
By Antonio Paolo Russo, Greg Richards
Multilingual MattersCopyright © 2016 Antonio Paolo Russo, Greg Richards and the authors of individual chapters
All rights reserved.
Antonio Paolo Russo and Greg Richards
This volume intends to break new ground in relation to a classic topic in tourism studies, namely the transformation of places through tourism. This theme has continuously attracted the attention of academics from different scholarly domains, but today it is being addressed within radically new conceptual and analytic frameworks – challenging established disciplinary boundaries and calling into question the very epistemological bases of tourism research.
The original objective of the book was to compile a number of studies presented at recent conferences and expert meetings held by the Association for Tourism and Leisure Education and Research (ATLAS), which analyze the boom of virtual tourism platforms and peer-to-peer tourism consumption. Homestays, house swaps, short-term rentals and other products are offered by 'lifestyle entrepreneurs' to connected and expert travellers, bypassing conventional tourism distribution chains. New tourism products and experiences such as eating with locals, home exchanges and co-created tours have become embedded in popular culture and are receiving increasing attention in the media. Indeed, collaborative and relational forms of travel seem to represent the next step in the evolution of tourism – a new layer of 'societal innovation', combining with the technological and organizational breakthroughs which have largely driven the transformation of the tourism industry in recent decades. To some extent, we are returning to the societal foundations of tourism. The rise of mass tourism created a culture of mass leisure mobility in Western society and the current 'knowledge society' or 'network society' is creating a culture of 'collaborative tourism', which is now beginning to compete with the conventional mass tourism industry from which it originated.
Only a few years ago, the topic of collaborative tourism was hardly on the research agenda. But the rapid growth of new networks and platforms supporting the peer-to-peer exchange of resources has led to a progressive restructuring of the tourism marketplace. Rather than the previous emphasis on the 'hard' factors of tourism development (such as resorts, hotels or attractions, for example), research is shifting towards the value of 'soft' local knowledge, creativity and intangible resources. Put simply, there is a new paradigm of 'tourism without development' which emphasizes the role of the host community rather than external developers (Andriotis & Agiomirgianakis, 2014).
A number of scholars have begun to engage critically with this new paradigm, such as contributors to Hospitality and Society, a cross-disciplinary journal launched in 2011. Such studies hint at more pervasive foundational shifts in the social sciences, stretching to the more general question of the engagement of multiple hybrid mobilities with places that are – or are becoming – cosmopolitan. This approach sees the 'local' as being co-constructed rather as an immanent quality of tourist destinations, and therefore as being dependent on the power of agency of individuals and communities. A lot has already been written about how the tourism industry builds/transforms/appropriates space. But in today's post-touristic world the key question is how society as a whole creates tourist space. This question also focuses attention on communities of practice – involving citizens and tourists, workers, migrants, cultural minorities, etc. – as key agents of the transformation of tourist space. From this perspective tourism studies has become important for a full understanding of the relationship between place and society.
Indeed, the last 10–15 years have been exciting times for the small world of tourism research. As a body of knowledge, tourism studies has for some time been incapable of producing new breakthrough developments which would relate to the emerging issues of tourism in the contemporary age. While the dimensions of the tourism phenomenon have been growing relentlessly, the problems and challenges that were specific to certain places have assumed global dimensions.
To start with, the environmental threats posed by tourism-induced development in specific localities – demanding local solutions – are today attributed to mobility writ large. This hints at a problematic tension between travel as a fundamental right of individuals and a vector of democratization, and the fact that tourism is one of the most important contributors to global climate change.
Similarly, the cultural and social transformations produced by tourism were previously addressed largely in relation to the north/south divide and mostly relegated to post-colonialist approaches. But these transformations are today experienced by any host community even in the relatively wealthy advanced Western countries, and point to a higher order of tensions in the production of space by heterogeneous societal groups.
Finally, the economic benefits promised by tourism to areas with few other pathways to development, are today pursued by almost any place in the world, irrespective of the questionable contribution that tourism often offers to local communities and workers. This concern brings out into the open the unimaginative character of local politics and their increasing subordination to the agendas of the global tourism industry. In many instances societies and civic movements are reclaiming their right to a place in the face of the perceived aggression of the tourist 'growth machine'.
Confronted with such challenges, it often seemed that tourism studies were one step behind. On the one hand, academia was hardly able to contribute effective solutions; on the other, it was struggling to provide models of universal validity to interpret reality and anticipate foreseeable developments. Tourism was also experiencing increasing difficulties in gaining recognition within and across the tight boundaries of its parent disciplines, such as geography, management and economics, planning, sociology, anthropology and cultural studies.
However, a new generation of scholars, building from wider paradigms in the social sciences, has started to breathe new life into the study of travel and tourism, defining and embracing a number of epistemological and methodological innovations or 'turns'. Eschewing solid positivist entrenchments in favour of post-disciplinary, post-constructivist and critical approaches, they felt the urge to go back to the roots and raise questions about the basic nature of tourism as a social and economic practice, what the object of tourism studies should be, and who or what we are doing this for.
These developments led to a real revolution in research, which gives new strength to tourism as 'analytics' (Minca & Oakes, 2011). Tourism studies, marginalized because of its focus on the 'exceptional' or 'ephemeral' in social behaviour, is increasingly occupied with the mundane, everyday life and everyplace. In these terms, the analysis of tourism may provide new keys to understanding place and society in general. This shift is not without consequences for the position of tourism research in the social sciences, with an unprecedented volume of new publications and journals, a flood of educational and research programmes in universities all over the world, and a newly gained recognition of its transcendence across once impermeable disciplinary frontiers. In short, tourism today is a bigger (and probably different) issue and a trendier academic field than it has ever been.
Among the breakthrough developments which repositioned tourism studies so dramatically (critical and radical studies, postcolonial studies, gender studies, etc.), we will mention three, whose impact has arguably been quite pervasive in reorienting the agenda of tourism studies (Mansfeldt, 2014).
The first, and probably the one with the most profound effects on the discipline, is the mobilities turn. This new approach to the study of tourism, owing much to the recent work of John Urry, is first and foremost a paradigm change in the social sciences as a whole. It suggests that, in a world in which the mobility of people and objects have come to structure any domain of human life, we cannot study society as if it were 'sedentary' or having a sticky relation with place. We need to deal with people in a state of mobility, translating space and place in their mobile lives, and recombining their livelihoods all the time in a state of flux. When this perspective is used to analyze the role and position of tourism, as in many of Urry's works (2000), of some of his collaborators (such as Hannam, 2008; Larsen, 2001; Sheller & Urry, 2004), of other established authors in tourism studies (Hall, 2005) and (by now) countless other scholars, this is seen as a heterogeneous form of mobility, which is driven by, interacts with and interferes with many others. At least since the seminal works of Italian sociologist Guido Martinotti (1993), the social construction of places can be analyzed through the convergence and overlapping of different mobilities. However, the mobilities literature represents a genuine step forward in tourism studies, in that it focuses on people and objects in a state of mobility and on places as 'porous' to such heterogeneous mobilities as proposed by Amin (2002) and 'assembled' through them. In this domain, new 'mobile' methods have started to be endorsed by the tourism research community, and the object of research has progressively shifted to the multiple agencies of mobility, which are also, in themselves, utterly mobile, like capital and technology.
The second 'turn', which relates strongly to mobilities but which more explicitly focuses on the material processes of construction of place, is the performative turn. This was introduced into the geography of tourism by authors such as Tim Edensor, Michael Crang, Jørgen Ole Bærenholdt, Adrian Franklin and others. Departing from a critique of MacCannell, and endorsing Massey's (1994) relational approach to the construction of place and the role of power geometries, this theoretical framework conceives (tourist) places as non-fixed entities (as opposed to established ontological separations between the visited 'object' and the visiting 'subject') which are enacted and continuously transformed through the performance of multiple actors. The performative turn 'does not see tourism as an isolated island but explores connections between tourism, the everyday and significant others' (Urry & Larsen, 2011: 194, quoted in Mansfeldt, 2014) and, as such, it 'dislocates attention from symbolic meanings and discourses to embodied, collaborative and technological doings and enactments' (Haldrup & Larsen, 2009, quoted in Germann Molz, 2012: 165). Tourism research is thus shifted to a mobile, ungrounded domain whereby tourism, tourists and destinations co-determine each other. This repositioning of tourism also hints at a fundamental reset of the relationship between tourism and everyday life, as it is now seen as integral to wider processes of economic and political development and even constitutive of everyday life (Edensor, 2007; Franklin, 2003; Hannam, 2008).
Again this turn has produced fundamental advances in the way in which tourism and tourists are studied, hinging upon non-representational methods that insist on the materiality of such enactments. Among these is actor-network theory (ANT), introduced in this field by authors such as Van der Duim (2007), Jóhannesson (2005) and Ren (2011). ANT invites us to 'explore the universe of possibilities' from the myriad of hybrid relations that bundle up space (Van der Duim et al., 2012), mapping relations that are simultaneously material (between things) and semiotic (between concepts). ANT has remarkably shifted the attention of research from 'the tourist' to people, animals, objects, machines and events which through their multiple relations shape the 'place' in which tourists intervene.
The third innovation that took place in tourism studies and helped reformulate the research agenda is the creative turn. Building on works on the experience economy (Pine & Gilmore, 1999) and on creative cities (Hannigan, 2005; Landry, 2000), this new concept has been forged and popularized by Greg Richards (2011) and Richards and Raymond (2000), and picked up by other authors like Brouder (2012), Evans (2007), Maitland (2010) and Pratt (2008). More pragmatically than the other turns illustrated above, creative tourism repositions cultural tourism as encounter, relationship and negotiation within the symbolic/cultural domain in tourist destinations. This has a bearing on how tourism experiences are organized and promoted, as the target is shifted from object and place to the actors of the cultural landscape and their interaction in a process of exchange. Yet it also hints at a restructuring of the processes of construction of tourist places, criticizing mainstream practices of development of 'tourist places' (i.e. places and products that are meaningful for tourists or that attract tourist consumption), which unavoidably lead to a stereotyped and banalized landscape (and experiences of it). Instead, it proposes that 'creativity' as the essence of the cultural act in which tourists are involved is an 'antidote to the serial reproduction of culture and places' (Richards & Wilson, 2006).
The creative turn has a number of consequences for tourism research and more notably for tourism planning and policy:
the connotation of any place as a (potential) destination for creative tourism in opposition to the 'dressing up' and representation of certain categories of places as cultural tourism attractions (e.g. heritage cities and historical city centres, large-scale and 'flagship' cultural infrastructure);
the emphasis on the intangible (i.e. process) layer of cultural (re)production acquired through practice and engagement over tangible cultural objects 'to be seen';
the power of spontaneous, grassroots manifestations of culture over legitimate, authorized, 'pacified' narratives of place;
the importance of mundane spaces, where everyday life represents a context for the establishment of culture-laden relationships, over specialized tourist spaces which have been emptied of their original social fabric.
Most importantly for the current volume, the creative perspective also highlights the importance of 'points of connection' between the culture of visitors and the culture of locals which can be constructed through activities and events (like gastronomy, collective performances, mobility), spaces of interchange (public space, private homes) or which can be immanent in the social construction of a cosmopolitan place and its collective rituals (shopping, nightlife, sociopolitical rituals).
These three turns thus suggest that we should consider a different way of looking at and understanding tourism – the heterogeneous mobilities of people and objects – as inherently tied to the morphological, social and symbolic characteristics of the spaces in which tourism takes place and their transformation. These turns also invite us to take nothing for granted: what is generally attributed the label of 'tourist' – often in opposition to a different domain, that of the 'local' – is in fact continuously negotiated and reconfigured in a wider context of non-fixed entities which produce the space determining what in fact tourism is really about.
In a recent PhD thesis, Mansfeldt (2014) draws from these and other innovative approaches to develop a reflection on the concept of 'inbetweenness', a term originally introduced by Bærenholdt et al. (2004). Inbetweenness identifies the 'untouristic' in the sense of being detached from the formal production of tourist experiences, but ultimately influencing it: metaphorically, not the hotel or the attraction, but the transit between the two; not the time spent at sights, but the idle moments of rest; not the planned, purposeful 'tourist' place but that which comes to be 'touristed' by the spontaneous enactment of people and objects. Mansfeldt extends this notion to the spatial, analytical, relational and experiential dimensions of tourism experiences, dismantling the dichotomic oppositions characteristic of tourism analysis and illustrating the relevance of the 'interstices' between them. Similarly, Quaglieri Domínguez and Russo (2010) map out different 'inbetween' collectives that populate the urban space and analyze the spatiality and co-evolutionary character of their relationships.
Mansfeldt and Quaglieri Domínguez and Russo's studies, together with many others presented at recent ATLAS sessions, have been important entry points for this book. The central theme is the transformation of place as produced by the practices of mobile communities that operate across the ontological separation between origins and destinations. Its title evokes that very notion of 'local', a frequently used brand in place marketing. The notion of the local is today a shifting construct, which has more to do with the transits and interconnections of global actors than with the 'immanent' characteristics of places and their societies, transcending frontiers of tangible/intangible, public/private, personal/collective.
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Table of Contents
1. Antonio Paolo Russo and Greg Richards: Introduction.
Part One - New Products and Hospitality Models
2. Antonio Paolo Russo and Alan Quaglieri Domínguez: The Shifting Spatial Logic of Tourism in Networked Hospitality
3. Paula Bialski: Authority and Authorship: Uncovering the Socio-Technical Regimes of Peer-To-Peer Tourism
4. Francesca Forno and Roberta Garibaldi: Ethical Travel: Holidaying To Fight the Italian Mafia
5. Monica Gilli and Sonia Ferrari: The 'Diffuse Hotel': An Italian New Model of Sustainable Hospitality
Part Two: Flows and Communities
6. Ilaria Pappalepore and Andrew Smith: The Co-Creation of Urban Tourism Experiences
7. Simon Milne, Carolyn Deuchar and Karin Peters: 'Get Local': ICT, Tourism and Community Place Making In Auckland, New Zealand
8. Cody Morris Paris and Kevin Hannam: (Dis)Engaging The Local: Backpackers' Usage Of Social Media During Crises
9. Melanie Smith and Anita Zátori: Re-Thinking Host-Guest Relationships in the Context of Urban Ethnic Tourism
Part Three - Built Environments and 'Glocalised' Spaces
10. Davide Ponzini, Stefan Fotev and Francesca Mavaracchio: Place-Making or Place-Faking? The Paradoxical Effects Of Transnational Circulation of Architectural and Urban Development Projects
11. Greg Richards: Hostels and the Making of New Urban Spaces
12. Elsa Soro: Between Translation and Reinterpretation. What Is Local in Barcelona's Foodsphere?
13. Albert Arias Sans and Alan Quaglieri Domínguez: Unravelling Airbnb. Urban Perspectives from Barcelona
14. Dimitri Ioannides, Panos Leventis and Evangelia Petridou: Urban Resistance Tourism Initiatives in Stressed Cities: The Case of Athens
15. Greg Richards and Antonio Paolo Russo: Synthesis and Conclusions. Towards A New Geography of Tourism?