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Perspective tourism and hospitality – Complexities of definitions Assignment

Question 1 – Why is it difficult to decide how long a person must be away from home environment in order to be classified as a tourist?

Weaver and Lawton (2000 pp 25 -35) suggests that there are three components that describe a tourist. One of the components is the temporal component which focuses on the dimension of time. Cohen (1974 pp 527-555) suggests that the length of time is one of the way to differentiate a tourist from the other forms of travellers. In addition, the length of time to decide who should be classified as a tourist also varies according to industries. The assignment will discuss the difficulties to decide how long a person must be away from home environment in order to be classified as a tourist.

Weaver and Lawton (2000 pp 25-35) explains that when a person travels across the international borders to the neighbouring country for more than 24 hours, this person can be considered a tourist. Under the same circumstances, if this person stays less than 24 hours, accordingly, then this person is considered an excursionist. This form of classification is inline with World Tourism Organisation (WTO) definition of a tourist. However, this form of illustration may lead to erroneous classification. For instance, a tourist having visited Singapore may wish to travel to Malaysia for a few hours, this tourist may erroneously be classified as an excursionist instead of a tourist.

According to WTO, an international tourist spends at least one night up and to one year in the country visited. Should the time limit be exceeded, Weaver and Lawton (2000 pp 25-35) suggest that the visitor will be classified as “migrant” or temporary resident. If a businessman or a diplomat travels to another country for 2 days with specific purposes that is not about seeking novelty and change, these people would be classified as a tourist. If an exile or a refugee seeks refuge in another country to for more than six months, they will erroneously be classified as domestic tourists.

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Cohen (1974 pp 527-555) argues that the businessmen, the pilgrims, the diplomats, the exiles and the refugees should not be considered tourists because the purpose of travel is not to seek novelty and change experience. The author further argues that the length of time is relative. The time needed to travel can be long or short, so long as that person experience novelty and change in order to be classified a tourist. Without a standard definition of how long a person must stay away from home environment it is difficult to classify a tourist from other forms of travellers.

The length of time that defines a tourist also varies from industry to industry. In the hotel sector, length of time that classifies a tourist from other forms of traveller is when the person pays to stay in a room for at least one night. Shops that sell products to tourists may require few hours to consider that person a tourist. If a local person buys souvenirs from those shops, the owners may consider that person a tourist.

In the sellers’ points of view, it does not matter how long or short a person must stay away from home to be classified as a tourist so long as that person purchases products or services that are targeted at tourists. The transport sector, such as a taxi may require the time needed to complete a journey to define a tourist. The entertainment sector, such as the Disneyland may require a day while a pub may require the entire night.

In conclusion, this assignment as discussed the difficulties to decide how long a person must be away from home environment in order to be classified as a tourist. This assignment has used the discussion with examples to support understanding of the topics.

Question 2

Would Erik Cohen classify a refugee from Sudan as a tourist? Give reasons for your answer using Cohen’s six dimensions of a tourist’s role.

At times of political unrest, like in Sudan, people are forced to evacuate their origin country and seek refuge in another country. Should these refugees be considered as tourists? Cohen (1974 pp 527-555) provides six dimensions of a tourist’s role to evaluate whether the author would classify a refugee from Sudan as a tourist.

Firstly, a tourist is a temporary traveller that has permanent address. A refugee having evacuated from Sudan is searching for a new permanent address in another country to take refuge as an involuntary traveller. Secondly, a tourist is a voluntary traveller who travels at his own freewill. He is free to abort his trip and return to his permanent address. A refugee is forced to travel, due to threatening circumstances, and is not free to abort the trip and return to Sudan.

Thirdly, a tourist is a round-trip traveller, so that the point of departure is also the final destination. A refugee on the other hand is not on a round-trip. The point of departure is Sudan and the final destination is the country in which they seek refuge. Therefore, a refugee is not a round-trip traveller. Fourthly, a tourist is on a relatively long journey, while the refugee too can be on a relatively long journey. The term relative refers to the difference in the perception of time. For a frequent traveller such as a businessman who travels long distance may not perceive travelling from Adelaide to Sydney long.

However, a refugee, who does not trave long distant frequently, may find travelling from Adelaide to Sydney long. Fifthly, the tourist is on a non-recurrent trip. A refugee while seeking refuge may similarly also travel on a non-recurrent trip but a refugee does not intend to seek novelty and change. A refugee seeks safety. Lastly, the tourist is a traveller, whose purpose is non-instrumental. A refugee’s trip is instrumental, that is for a specific purpose, as there is a need to fine a place to seek refuge. Using the six dimension, Cohen (1974 pp 527-555) will not classify a refugee from the Sudan as a tourist.

Question 3

Why did Stephan Smith decide to develop a ‘supply-side’ definition of tourism? Compare and contrast his ‘supply-side’ definition with the definition of tourism in your textbook.

Smith (1988 p179) decided to develop a ‘supply-side’ definition of tourism because the author believed that tourism should be viewed as a tourist industry. With this economic perspective, the author defined tourism using two components. The first component is tier one, referring to businesses that serves the pure tourists. This business will cease exists when tourism ceases.

The second component is tier two, referring to businesses that serve the tourists as well as the local resident. Smith (1988 p179) argues that the ‘conceptualisation and measurement’ of tourism is a way that is consistent with other economic activities, such as goods and services. Goods and services include accommodation, transportation, travel services, food and beverages services, recreation, culture and entertainment and retail goods.

Weaver and Lawton (2000 p 3) described tourism as a host of various stakeholders synergistically interact to support the tourism industry to achieve sustainability. The various stakeholders are origin government, host government, tourism business, universities, community colleges, NGOs, tourists.

Both Weaver and Lawton (2002 p 3) and Smith (1988 p179) agree that the definitions of the term tourism vary according to the industry and purpose of use. Both authors agree that tourism industry is economically lucrative. Tourism industry gain revenue for the host county and the related businesses. In addition, tourism industry provides employment for both the origin and the host countries. Both authors also agree that there is no adequate definition of tourism as an industry and has caused poor reputation among many official bodies. This lack of precised definition of tourism has negative impact on the growth of tourism industry.

As Smith (1988 p 182) believes that the motivation of a tourist is not solely concern in defining tourism. Weaver and Lawton (2002 p 3) argue that there are many parties involved in the tourism industry. In addition, the authors argue that tourism is more that a business perspective, but it involves sociology, social science, such as geography, anthropology and economics.

Smith (1988 p182) supply-side definition focuses on the commodities the tourism industry produces. Weaver and Lawton (2002 p 3) focus is more than just the commodities produced by the tourism industry. The authors are also concern with other stakeholders that support various transactions in the tourism industry.

For instance, the origin government supports tourism by issuing travel document such as the passport; the airline industry supports tourism by means of transport vehicles. The host government supports by allowing the tourist to enter the country; the hotels provide accommodation and the restaurants provide meals to the tourist. In addition, Weaver and Lawton is also concern about the progress of tourism as an academic discipline. The authors advocate that universities and other research institution should develop knowledge and scientific researches to better generate patterns and theories.

Question 4

Read Urry’s ‘nine minimal characteristics of the practices which are conveniently described as tourism’ When you have done so, use Urry’s ideas to explain, in your own words, the kinds of things that tourist do.

The first minimal characteristic means that work and leisure form a dynamic relationship. At the beginning of industrialisation, people began to work for a salary. People became wealthier and the intention to travel became popular. To balance work and leisure, people planned and scheduled their vacations to a specific place during a specific time. For instance, a person planned to visit Paris for three days during the school holidays. This separates work and leisure as discrete activities. In the mist of enjoyment, that person will not be interrupted by work or the vice versa.

The second minimal characteristic means that a tourist engages on a journey, travelling a distant, arrives at the destination and spend time there. For instance, a person travelling from Adelaide by a plane crossing the international borders, arrived at Singapore and stay in a hotel for a few days.

The third minimal characteristic means that the person’s vacation destination and stay must not be a work place but must be away from home. For instance, a businessman who trades between Australia and Singapore, travels and stay in Singapore cannot be described as tourism. This is because Singapore is a place that he works.

Forth minimal characteristic means that the destinations visited are “not directly connected with paid work” but normally offer a contrast with work. For instance, a factory worker, during his vacation, may visit factories. The contrast can be the size and facilities of the factory he visit to that which he works.

The fifth minimal characteristic means that during modern contemporary time, people travel in large groups; therefore there is a need for modern forms of mass transport and accommodation to cope with the volume of tourists.

The sixth minimal characteristic means that in the modern consumer society, people tend to anticipate or imagine or fantasise about the pleasure they will get from it. These forms of anticipation is constructed and sustained through media such as literature, magazines and videos.

The seventh minimal characteristic means that tourists are observant or aware of the surroundings of the place visited which are different from is his or her every day life. The tourists experience difference or contrast in the new environment. The tourists capture the moment and experience by taking photographs or buying souvenirs so that they can recapture their experience “endlessly”. For instance, a tourist who visits the Eiffel tower in Paris may buy miniature replica of the Eiffel towel to bring home so that he or she can remember the experience of this visitation.

The eighth characteristic means that tourists have expectation of things to see at a place he will be visiting. When the tourist arrives at the destination, he will look out for “signs” to match his expectation. For instance, before the journey, his expectation of Paris is “romantic Paris”. When he arrives at Paris, he will be looking for signs of romance but will not take account of the non-romantic happenings. When he sees signs of romance in Paris, he identifies it, as it matches his expectation. This signs are often used in the tourist industry to stereotype places.

The ninth characteristic means that stakeholders of the tourist industry continuously create attractions so that people will continue to spend money on tourism. This is because tourism relies on consumerism. The stakeholders compete among one another to meet demand of tourists and to create new products. The changing taste of demand require that the product to be changed accordingly. These changes depend upon class, gender and age. For instance, beaches in Bali can be promoted as a getaway for Australian during winter. On the other hand, it can be promoted as secluded beach for couples on a honeymoon.

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