Tourism and Stereotypes

Tourism and Stereotypes

A stereotype is an exaggerated belief, image or distorted truth about a person or a group that are often based on images in mass media, or beliefs passed on by parents, peers and other members of society. They can be either positive or negative. Tourism stereotypes have lead to negative views associated with tourists to be formed, with an emphasis on mass tourism.

How do Finnish students see Canada and New Zealand? How do Canadian students see Finland and New Zealand? How do New Zealanders see Finland and Canada? Read what other students write and comment on two or more blog posts.

When I think of a Canadian traveller I imagine tourists who are adventurous, partaking in outdoor activities when visiting a country such as New Zealand. I also have formed a similar stereotype of the tourism activities people participate in when visiting Canada, such as snow sports, hiking, fishing, hunting and seeing wildlife. As I have not yet been to Canada or meet many Canadian people I presume I have formed these stereotypes due to how Canadians are portrayed in the media/television.

The below photo is sourced from Lonely Planet and is the stereotype I have formed of what Canada looks like even though I know the landscape is quite diverse.



Also, here are some blogs I found about people dismissing stereotypes that are often formed about Canadians:


Sorry students from Finland, as I have had almost no exposure to Finland as a country through media etc.  or met anyone from Finland, I have not formed any stereotypes about Finland as a country or the people who live there.


TEFI Values

Does stereotyping in tourism adhere to the TEFI values of ethics, professionalism, mutual respect and stewardship? In regards to mass tourism and the negative stereotypes that are sometimes associated with tourist’s, is it ethical to generalize all tourists into one group and blame them for issues such as acculturation?


An example of recent stereotyping in tourism is documented in the following New Zealand news articles: and The destination manager of Dubrovnik made comments that she would prefer if Australian and New Zealand travellers should not visit the city because they are all crazy and drunk. Not only did the tourism official generalize all kiwi’s, but all New Zealanders and Australians. Therefore, can mutual respect be formed between countries when negative stereotypes are formed about the origins of visitors to a host country? Clearly the comments made by the tourist official were not professional or ethical and she was fired however as the article spread worldwide there could be significant long-term damage to Dubrovnik as a tourist destination.

From a different perspective is it ethical to market Canada or New Zealand as a destination by showing only images of quiet lakes and mountains in some marketing communication (such as the image I provided from Lonely Planet), when the countries have a diverse range of landscapes and therefore tourist activities. Does this promote stewardship by marketing certain natural attributes of destinations that may not be present in the future due to climate change or overuse by tourists and by providing these images does it further re-enforce stereotypes people have already formed about destinations?

5 Responses to “Tourism and Stereotypes”

  1. Jaclyn Breg says:

    Your stereotype of Canadian tourism involving outdoor activities like snow sports, hiking, fishing, hunting and seeing wildlife is pretty accurate. Those types of tourism activities are a big part of what we offer here in Canada. Our climate and landscapes are one of our best tourism resources. That’s not to say that we don’t offer tourism experiences other than outdoor adventures. We have nightlife and history and luxury experiences as well. But I think that Canada may not be perceived as being as historically rich as some of the European countries and in terms of fashion and architecture, we are not considered a popular destination. What sets our country apart is the scenery and climate, so that is what the media picks up on in its portrayal of Canada.

    I think you made a good point when you discussed that it may be unethical to market natural attributes of a destination to tourists that may end up eventually destroying these natural settings because of overuse. It’s also interesting how, in so many of the images of Canada (and other destinations), the landscape looks untouched. We do have some beautiful areas in Canada, but they are not all as serene and undisturbed as they are represented in the photos.

    Do your stereotypes of Canadian tourism experiences make you want to visit our country? I wonder how appealing these activities are you you and your peers and whether you would consider them to be worth the long flight over?

  2. Jessica Taylor says:

    What you explained sounds similar to New Zealand; we have all the adventure activities however our culture also defines our unique tourism product. I think we have some beautiful historic buildings, especially in Wellington (the capital city where Victoria University is located) but these are not our main appeal since we are a young country in terms of when New Zealand was colonised. Our nightlife is good in tourist towns such as Queenstown in the South Island (which is a big adventure tourism destination) however I don’t think it would compare to most other countries.

    New Zealand also communicates images that portray untouched beauty and natural environments however our biggest international airport is located in Auckland and most tourists have to travel through some lower socio-economic areas and cities/towns before they can reach the natural environment they desire. Unfortunately New Zealand also is in the middle of an environmental disaster and fresh oil has continued to wash up on the beaches where I live, months after a cargo ship became stranded on a reef and we also have problems with agriculture (our major industry alongside tourism) polluting rivers and waterways etc. Regardless, New Zealand still has amazing natural environments however it is important we protect them so future generations can experience them.

    I’m not really sure what triggered my want to go to Canada but ever since I can remember I have wanted to travel there which is why I found this TEFI activity so appealing. I want to obtain a 1 year working VISA so I can experience most of the country and this would also offset the long-haul travel. This is similar to most of my friends and family who visit Canada, most on working VISA’s so they can stay as long as possible. The stereotypes of the tourism experience in Canada do re-enforce desires to travel there.

  3. Teri McKersie says:

    My name is Teri McKersie, from Guelph, Ontario.

    Your perception of Canada is not at all inaccurate. We do offer many outdoor experiences and sports, as well as amazing scenery. However, many people from other countries do not realize that Canada offers so much more than wildlife and winter sports. Canada is home to some amazing beaches, unique infrastructure, beautiful waterfalls and etc. I think it is also important to note that while we do offer your “stereotype” of Canada, scenes like the one shown in the picture are not everywhere. They are typically further north and areas that are not heavily populated. Therefore, it is very inconvenient and sometimes almost impossible to be traveling back and forth from places similar to the one in the picture to larger cities.

  4. Theresa Wong Ken says:

    You commented on my posting, so you may remember that I was not raised in Canada. I think it’s a little funny that the link you posted about the “Five Canadian Stereotypes and why they’re wrong” include similar stereotypes that I had (and still have) of Canada.
    For instance, I spent 5 years prior to my moving here, trying to learn French because I thought I would absolutely need it in Canada; despite the time spent, I barely know more than “Bonjour!” Luckily, it turns out that I absolutely DON’T need it, living in Ontario.
    Another one is the cold; like I said in my own post, I for some reason thought it was always cold in Canada, even though I’d traveled here during the summer. Add to that, that a lot of places are air conditioned during the summer, so I guess that I just never felt the heat.

  5. Theresa Wong Ken says:

    I’d also like to say that one summer, I visited Banff, Alberta. This is a bbeeaauuttiiffuull (emphasis intended) town where I think you’d really find all the picturesque scenery you could hope for. It’s mountainous, has gorgeous lakes, and is just a really nice little escape. It has a pretty rich tourism culture, so there is obviously the need to preserve the town and landscape.
    Here’s the city website:

    (Fun fact, if you refresh the home page, you’ll see a different background picture every time.)

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