Alternative Tourism Experiences

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International Volunteer Tourism: Integrating Travellers and Communities, 2013, 1, pp. 18 - 31
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The original version of this chapter fi rst appeared in Volunteer Tourism: Experiences That Make a Difference, written in 2001. Here, we revisit the major themes concerning alternative tourism experiences in order to demonstrate where volunteer tourism sits on the tourism continuum, and how it contrasts with mass tourism experiences. Tourism in general has developed as a modern, largely Western endeavour, the analysis of which has evolved from pre-modernism through to postmodernism. Today modern tourism differs considerably from non-Western and historical forms of travel, although it has some similarities (Graburn, 1995). In particular, it has enabled the masses to travel and has been closely related to the emergence of modernity (Cohen, 1995), where consumption is a main tenet. The abundance of the modern Western touristic experiences during this evolution, particularly since the 1980s, has generated a variety of means of researching tourism. Tourism theories and research have emerged from a wide variety of fi elds and disciplines, including psychology, sociology, geography, ecology and anthropology. A variety of categories and labels of touristic experiences have emerged within the realm of alternative tourism that refl ect both marketing differentiations and ideologically divergent forms of tourism. This includes (but is not limited to) nature, green, special interest, pro-poor, adventure, communitybased, war and ecotourism. Many of these forms have caught the imagination of local communities, governments, international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the mainstream tourism industry itself, with a variety of such ‘alternative’ projects being actively promoted, especially in developing countries (Cohen, 1972; R.W. Butler, 1990; McGehee, 2002; Bowden, 2005).
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