The 1980 Manila Declaration on World Tourism describes global tourism as ”an activity essential to the life of nations because of its direct effects on the social, cultural, educational, and economic sectors of national societies and on their international relations.”
For many states today, the tourism industry is vital to their very survival, while on a global scale, it accounts for more then 30 percent of the world’s service exports and acts as a powerful tool for positive soft power expansion. However, while the positive aspects of tourism are widely discussed and encouraged, this mass flux migration of foreign nationals coming and going from one ‘hot-spot’ to another, has a detrimental effect on national culture. Producing a clash of identities between the cultural hemispheres.
In many instances, specific regions, certainly in the (rapidly) developing world, have transformed entirely to cater to this mass flux of tourism. At present this does however serve to support and sustain domestic economic development. Nevertheless, should various negative socio-political events occur which drives tourists away, that ‘essential’ tentacle of economic support can shrivel up quite quickly, forcing once thriving regions to developmentally move backwards rather then forwards. The recent uprisings in Egypt and the past 2011 revolution are a prime example of this. The events of 2011 directly resulted in a thirty-three percent decrease in tourism to Egypt, a number which is almost guaranteed to continue to rise after the summer 2013 events.
Regardless of the benefits and hinderances of the tourism industry, there has always remained one constant: tourists have a tendency to behave incredibly abnormally in comparison to their actions at home. On many occasions this lends to some truly fantastic photographic opportunities.
This project, which is still very much in its beginning phases, will critically analyse what it means to be a contemporary tourist, armed with digital cameras and an inherent need to document every waking moment. Yet the awkward lengths a tourist is willing to go to in order to document their journey is only the tip of the ice-berg of what is bound to be a very long-term project that will go beyond just the tourist itself, but into the very industry they have created.
(Image captions pending a back-end software update, should hopefully be very soon!)