Peace Without an Army: Costa Rica's Case of Tourism Through Peace

Peace Without an Army: Costa Rica's Case of Tourism Through Peace

Marinus C. Gisolf (Tourism Theories Asesores, Costa Rica)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7464-4.ch004


The relationship between peace and tourism is described against the background of one of the world's few countries that has no army: Costa Rica. A phenomenological approach has been applied to describe the tourism activity within a space/place paradigm. Through a case study of Costa Rica's tourism marketing efforts, it is shown that originally peace was foremost a political and physical phenomenon in the sense of absence of war or internal violence. Later peace started to play a more dominant role as social and psychological phenomenon, while tourism development and its subsequent marketing messages followed similar patterns. While a message of security and safety was first attached to the peace concept, this was later to be replaced by a message of natural peaceful environments coupled with emotional stability. This case study shows that when images of peace start playing a role in tourists' expectation patterns, a subtle switch takes place from the image of peace as a down-to-earth place-related lack of conflicts to nostalgic views of utopian spaces.
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Tourism and peace are two only remotely connected concepts – at least at first sight. The main link between the two is the lack of tension, violence or struggle in any environment where tourists abound (Honey, 2009). From a phenomenological viewpoint tourism is seen as an encounter between tourists and their holiday destination (Gnoth and Matteucci, 2014) while in this chapter tourism refers to the holiday experience specifically, narrowing down the much broader concepts handled by the World Tourism Organization (e.g. see UNWTO, 2007). Since tourists travel out of their own free will, it is assumed that they will travel to destinations that are supposed to be safe and free of violence. This is not the only link between tourism and peace. While war or any violent situation is strictly place-related, peace refers to spaces that form part of some social organization. The latter holds true for tourism, whereby the relation between space and place is fundamental for understanding this phenomenon.

In this chapter the relationship between tourism and peace is analysed with the help of a case study of Costa Rica’s tourism marketing efforts. First the concept of peace is further developed. Next, a link is made between peace and tourism through the concept of hospitality and some of its ethical implications for tourism. Then a brief summary is given of Costa Rica’s recent history and the influence the absence of an army has had on its tourism development. Costa Rica’s tourism marketing campaigns will be analysed in the light of the different forms of hospitality and the role of peace within a space/place paradigm. This analysis points to a dichotomy in the concept of peace: as a force to unite people and nations, but at the same time as an economic driver to generate tourism development, which suggests that tourism is not a generator of peace but rather the beneficiary of it It is this dichotomy of peace concepts that is of prime interest to this chapter and it is argued that as a consequence many may see tourism as an opportunity to induce peace in this world, but in the case of Costa Rica it is not so much about Peace through Tourism, but rather about Tourism through Peace.

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