CAN THE ANTHROPOLOGY OF TOURISM MAKE US BETTER TRAVELERS?

Authors


Abstract

Although the deliberate study of tourism is still relatively new in anthropology, we have over the past couple of decades managed to accumulate an impressive amount of research and experience. This article asks whether our inquiries can provide us with any practical knowledge regarding how tourism is conducted. While it has proven difficult to generalize the impacts of tourism upon particular communities, I argue here that our present knowledge can help us develop guidelines for responsible tourism that are more realistic than those that are usually offered. The danger for well-meaning travelers is that they are often encouraged to assume that their motives alone place them above those mass travelers who are so easily criticized for their lack of cultural interest or sensitivity. The anthropological approach to tourism described here suggests that we might be better off if we recognize that our intrusions into the places of others are not really all that different. This article provides some “alternative travel tips” aimed at creating more aware travelers.

Ancillary