Tourism history and the stereotyping challenge

Stereotypes are defined in a number of ways. According to the World English Dictionary a stereotype represents a “simplified and fixed image, generalizations as well as initial predictions of all members of a culture or group based on different subjects such as race, religion, ethnicity, age, gender, national origins.”

To me a stereotype is basically a prejudgment, which is built upon inaccurate and simplistic information. In her article, Evans-Pritchard tries to evaluate the roles of stereotyping based on the example of Native American images of tourists. Furthermore, she tries to focus on profits for the tourism research and strategies for communication. As a prejudgment is sometimes the result of cross-cultural communication, it is important to be open-minded for new cultures and try to interpret gestures and signs in the right way. “Stereotype images function to defend and protect as well as discriminate” (Evans-Pritchard, 1989:89). This means that they are a very natural function and are not as bad as they seem to be. This human function gives us the possibility to
predict the behavior of others and help us to protect ourselves.

The essential thing to overcome discrimination and express rejection of other cultures is to gain knowledge about the past and the present. According to Towner (1995), in order to expand our horizons over what constitutes tourism’s history, we have to overcome the debate of theory and ideology and provide the necessary steps for a “closer integration of leisure, recreation and tourism rather than compartmentalizing them into separate areas” (1995:341). Too simplistic and narrow views on tourism history have to be questioned and discussed in order to get a deeper insight on different cultures in different time periods. Lack of mutual respect often arises because of no interest and understanding of the different complexities of cultures. It’s like in real life: first you have to get to know a person and then draw the conclusions related to him or her.

Towner, J. (1995) What is Tourism’s History? Tourism Management, vol. 16, No. 5: 339-343
Evans-Pritchard, D. (1989) How “They” see “Us”. Native American Images of Tourists. Annals of Tourism Research, vol. 16 pp. 89-105.
Liburd, J. (2010) “Tourism and Stereotypes”

Cheers, Marthissa

One Response to “Tourism history and the stereotyping challenge”

  1. Jaclyn Breg says:

    Hi Marthissa,

    I thought you mentioned an interesting point from Evans-Pritchard about how stereotyping is a natural human function and is partly to protect and defend ourselves. I agree that it is inevitable and no matter how much we try, we will automatically stereotype people. It is our way of assessing people and situations and trying to ‘classify’ them in terms of what we know. When I read the part about using stereotypes to defend and protect, I had to think for a minute about what we are defending ourselves from. I think we use stereotypes to defend ourselves from our ignorance. There is so much that we don’t know about other people and cultures, but instead of admitting that, we choose to adopt stereotypes that we have been taught instead of thinking critically about them and finding out if they are valid.

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