Beyond Tourismphobia: Conceptualizing a New Framework to Analyze Attitudes Towards Tourism

Beyond Tourismphobia: Conceptualizing a New Framework to Analyze Attitudes Towards Tourism

Alejandro Mantecón (University of Alicante, Spain) and María Velasco (Complutense University of Madrid, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2224-0.ch004


This chapter discusses the factors that have led to the emergence of expressions of criticism toward tourism. This review serves to frame the original contribution of this text: a theoretical model that clarifies the defining features of the main attitudes towards tourism. Merton's model is here adjusted for the analysis of a new relationship between social ends and economic means. In this case, the end is economic progress. The way is the tourism, conceived as a massive social phenomenon. The relation between goals and means generates tensions. Its management derives in strategies of adaptation that include different ways of identification or discussion. The five types of adaptation of the new model are useful for addressing subject positions, political discourses, or attitudinal dispositions towards tourism. To illustrate this typology a purposive sampling of news on the tourismphobia has been selected, with no statistical generalization reflecting the constituent elements of each of the types: legitimization, innovative criticism, resignation, radical criticism, and subversive utopia.
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Why Do They Call It Overtourism When They Mean Capitalism?

The concept of overtourism has become popular recently and refers to a phenomenon that has been studied for decades: the influence of tourism in the massification of spaces. This term has been defined as “the situation in which the impact of tourism, at certain times and in certain locations, exceeds physical, ecological, social, economic, psychological, and/or political capacity thresholds” (Peeters et al., 2018, p. 15).

However, as explained in detail by Habermas (1973), the saturation limits of a cultural system are much more difficult to determine than the limits that permit survival of a natural system. The increase in the number of people that circulate in the cities that are the primary receivers of tourist flow requires a constant increase in available lodging. It requires the availability of those attracted by new work opportunities, and it requires a reorganization of urban space and restructuring of the business fabric at the same time that it implies resettlement of historical residents and redefines the functions carried out by places. As in many other capitalist processes, the logic of growth gives way to a shock in terms of the ecological capacity of the environment and in terms of existing ways of life which, however, rarely results in unequivocal criticism of the reasons for these changes. On the contrary, space becomes a battle ground in which old and new social actors participate with different interests and unequal strengths (Milano & Mansilla, 2018).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Fordist Tourism: Forms of organization of the tourist industry that emerged after the Second World War characterized by the large-scale commercialization of standardized products, based on a basic offer of “sun, sand and sea”, aimed at homogeneous and undemanding markets.

Capitalism: A system of organization of social and economic relations based on the commoditization of the greatest number of elements in the greatest number of places.

Strain Theory: A theory proposed by R.K. Merton in 1938 in order to explain the types of adaptation of individuals to a society that defines success in terms of accumulation of wealth and that typifies the acceptable and unacceptable means of achieving it.

Overtourism: A buzzword that refers to issues similar to the established concept of “tourism carrying capacity”. This neologism is often used to allude to problems caused by tourist saturation with regard to the emergence of public expressions of criticism or rejection of tourism or any of its effects.

Commoditization: Process by which something or someone is converted into a commodity, into an object available in a market.

Post-Fordist Tourism: Form of organization of the tourism industry that emerged in the 1990s, characterized by the diversification of products and their integration into more segmented markets, with more demanding, experienced consumers who are less likely to repeat experiences and interested in alternative typologies to mass or Fordist tourism.

Tourismphobia: An expression used mainly by the media with the aim of stigmatizing public expressions of rejection of tourism or any of its effects.

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