Tourism and Stereotypes

Hello everybody!

I would like to focus more on stereotypes, because in my eyes, it is a very interesting topic.

Well, stereotypes are defined as a group of people with a defined set of characteristics, which can be positive or negative. For example other cultures, if one nationality has a behavior which is different from ours, let’s say here in Austria, (maybe in the eating habits) then we generalize that and say: “They eat dogs, how rude. Every Chinese person does that…” or, influenced by the media, “Pakistanis are terrorists”. I know those are very rude examples, but it is the truth.

We reduce the level of complexity in something very simplistic so that we can say “We do that and you do it different.” In psychology this is called “mental map”, which means we may refer to our personal point of view perception of our own world.

I have to say, that I really enjoyed Deirdre Evans-Pritchard’s article. It was very interesting to read how stereotypes come about, just because of simple situation or the tourist’s laziness to read more about certain cultures. On page fourteen I found a paragraph which brings to the point what I also think, namely

“We cannot expect international slurs to disappear-there is evidently a deep human need to think in stereotypes. What we folklorists can do is to examine the slurs to see what the stereotypes are and to label them as stereotypes. We should not let the humor of the slurs fool us into underestimating the potential danger of national character stereotypes (1975:38).”

Now let’s shortly talk about tourism’s history, which is, I would say, kind of difficult. The story starts in the 17th and 18th century, when Grand Tours and spas developed. It continues in the 19th century when international tourism dispread by Thomas Cook and still accelerates by the charter flights and jet airplanes. This is what we know about the tourism development in Western Europe, but we know very less about the start of tourism in India or China.

And again I found a nice paragraph which says what is on my mind:

Oral history offers many exciting possibilities for studies of leisure and tourism in the recent past and has the potential to place these experiences within the context of everyday lives.


2 Responses to “Tourism and Stereotypes”

  1. Robert Wilfing says:

    Dear Livia,

    what do you think about stereotypes regarding our home-country?
    Whenever I tell people about being Austrian they immediately start talking about “The Sound of Music”, Mozart (or Mozartkugeln), the Opera Ball, Sacher Torte, Skiing, Sissi, Mountains,….

    I think that those associations are rather positive and good for the tourism industry. Nevertheless they don’t reflect the “real” Austria and are quite focused on the past. Can anyone think of “new” “characteristics” like music groups, artists, dishes or events that would be suitable to represent Austria?

    cheers, Robert

  2. Piia Samsten says:

    Hi Livia and Robert,

    You have a very interesting subject going on here. In my opinion people may need some stereotyping, but it has to be configurable. I have traveled to Mumbai, India on 2007 and there I said I was from Finland and they said “Aah, Nokia!”. I think it was good that they have something where to connect Finland. Better than “Umm, what place it is and where?”. And yes I admit that when I think of Austria I have the same images as Robert listed on his comment. But that is, because I have been in Salzburg and those things are the first, which come into my mind when I suddenly think of Austria.

    I tried to think new “characteristics” from Austria, but I need some researching for that, because I don’t know so much about Austria. So what I think is that if the stereotypes are basic: Paris and Eiffel tower, New York and Statue of Liberty, as long as it is positive then we should only smile when people know at least something about your country or city. Then there is a good start for teach the person more about it.

    About the negative “images” like all Pakistanis are terrorists or all gypsies are thieves may need some time to change, but it all starts there that people have to remember they aren’t all like that. It has said that we finnish people are shy and drink beer with both hands. With your own behaviour you can make the difference and change those negative stereotypes to positive ones. What do you think? Or do we have to do some more for the negative stereotypes?

    Piia 🙂

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