Monthly Archives: January 2017

Institutional Framework of U.S. Tourism Development | USA


By: Dean MacCannell

The framework for the development of tourism in the United States is inseparable from the creation and deployment of a democratic U.S. pluralistic culture across the continent. Think about Woodie Guthrie’s “’This Land is My Land,’ this land is your land, from the redwood forests to the New York island.”

As the wealthiest country during the period of post-modern tourist expansion (1976-present) we have no tourist sector that was designed and built specifically to attract wealthy foreign visitors. All of U.S. tourism was first built for internal use. Foreign visitors today come to see U.S. culture and the U.S. landscape pretty much as it was initially created as a mirror for ourselves.

It is important to bear in mind that we were founded by Puritans. Gambling was prohibited in Plymouth Colony, as were theatrical productions. The Sunday after Abraham Lincoln was assassinated most of the sermons preached in the United States emphasized that he was killed by an actor and he would still be alive if he hadn’t given in to sinful temptation and gone to the theater.

So the idea of travelling for pleasure was complicated. We weren’t supposed to do anything for pleasure. But if you were going to experience pleasure you’d better be somewhere far away from home where you wouldn’t be seen.

Proto-typical tourist culture in the United States is based not on tourists’ travel, but on bringing the attractions to the tourists. In the 19th century, travelling (“touring”) musical and theatrical productions, burlesque, vaudeville, circuses and fairs, brought entertainment to frontier towns. These were all private, entrepreneurial productions and famously operating outside of local of and national regulation. The meme of “running away with the circus” was a stereotype of youth breaking free from small town roots and restrictions. “Patent” medicine containing cocaine and morphine was available from “snake oil salesmen” who travelled by wagon from town to town proffering entertainment from scantily clad female assistants along with their high pressure sales pitches.

Some of these early touring shows became huge financial successes both nationally and internationally and created the first entertainment super-stars. P.T. Barnum’s travelling circus (“This way to the EGRESS. Only 25 cents to see the EGRESS.” “There’s a sucker born every minute.”) Just as the American frontier was disappearing, Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show featured Annie Oakley’s and Frank Butler’s sharp shooting prowess, ‘Wild Bill’ Hickock playing himself, and Calamity Jane telling fanciful stories of the American frontier. Cody staged re-enactments of Custer’s Last Stand with ‘authentic’ Indian combatants before thousands of paying visitors in the U.S. and for Europeans including European royalty.

These shows synergistically laid the framework for future cousins like Rock Concerts and not incidentally laid the foundation of desire of Europeans and East Coast Americans to see and experience the “wild west” for themselves.

Cody’s Wild West Show began touring in 1872, the same year that the Yellowstone Act was signed into law setting up the U.S. system of National Parks and Monuments which I believe is the only public program at the national level that can be connected to tourism development.

Diverse ethnic sub-cultures in the United States began to attract and influence thinking and desire beyond their localized expression via these early travelling entertainments. Black American jazz from New Orleans travelled north by Mississippi paddle-wheel Steamers, floating theaters actually, bringing the “Blues” first to St. Louis and eventually to Chicago and beyond. Jewish American song writers penned some now universal standards like “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” for movies and Broadway shows that travelled the entire continent.

The movement of culture mirrors the movement of tourists in the U.S. When the mob still owned the Casinos in Las Vegas it was also the primary Western venue for New York Broadway shows.

“Follow the Yellow Brick Road”

As soon as the automobile was invented, and before there were roads for anything except horse carts, people dreamed of driving from coast-to-coast and the first such trips were undertaken (heavily publicized) in the early years of the 20th century. There is a substantial “Romance of the Road” type of tourism in the United States that probably reached its zenith with the publication of Jack Kerouak’s On the Road in the late 1950s.

The tourists began travelling to the attractions rather than vice versa, and the culture began to acknowledge tourism rather than vice versa. A romance and eventually a significant culture industry grew up around “Route 66.” Opened in 1926 and called “The Main Street of America” and “The Mother Road,” 66 connected Chicago to the Pacific Ocean beach in Santa Monica. Route 66 inspired songs (“I get my Kicks on Route 66”) and a popular television show. Now it was possible for everyone to travel “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

Route 66 was superseded by the interstate highway system in the 1950s. Today it is no longer a way to get to the attractions of Chicago, Los Angeles, or the Pacific Ocean. Its last remaining, noncontiguous segments have become tourist attractions in their own right. (“This way to the junction where you can drive on five miles of Historic Route 66.”)

The roadside tourist attractions along 66 were called “catch pennies” and “tourist traps.” They included snake and alligator farms, opportunities to photograph Indians wearing buckskins and feathers, etc. They were usually created by the owners of gas stations or motels to give their business some “destination advantage.” As I child I was taught to avoid all “tourist traps.”

A step up from the “tourist traps” are a proliferation of private collections and museums found everywhere in the U.S. Examples would be the Museum of the Hotrod in Florida, the Barbie Doll museum in California and the former private homes of notable citizens that have been turned into small shrines for the curious.

Many of these “Roadside Attractions” caught on and became popular and famous. Childrens’ “Playlands” featuring tame and safe simulacra of carnival rides became the template for Disneyland. Walt Disney said so himself.

A distinctive U.S. type of attraction is the “Hall of Fame.” Some of these have become world famous like the Baseball Hall of Fame, or the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But there are scores of lesser-known Halls like the Sports Mascot Hall of Fame or the Adult Video Hall of Fame, and the Cowgirl Rodeo Star Hall of Fame. All the great Halls of Fame and most of the smaller ones are created and supported by regional or national organizations like National League Baseball and have elaborate rules for inclusion.

In order to compete with the automobile, the train had to be made into something more than a transportation device. From the early to the mid 20th century train travel became integrated with luxury hotel construction in the West and train advertising emphasized its sightseeing potential.

From the 19th century forward to today there has been a patchwork of specialized summering places in the U.S. roughly equivalent to European Spas. The Catskill villages and resorts offered New Yorkers a place to cool off for a few weeks. Dude Ranches in the West gave “city slickers” a chance to learn to ride horses and play at being cowboys and girls. Children everywhere went to “summer camp” some of which offered specialized experiences and services, e.g., “Fat Camp.” Franklin Roosevelt built a spa in Georgia for himself and others who suffered from polio. Even though he was president, his Warm Springs resort was entirely his private initiative.

The post-modern versions of this would be the hedonistic temporary “Spring Break” communities that pop up on Florida Beaches, or the mastodon “Burning Man” festival in Nevada.

At the sub-national level tourism development in the United States receives state and local support. States and cities give land, tax breaks, and maintenance support to their parks, museums and zoos. Recently, and not without controversy, localities have offered tax incentives and loans for the construction of sports stadiums.

At the Federal Level, there is a system of hundreds of protected National Parks and Monuments that can be found in every state. These include a vast array of places of scenic, historic, or scientific value; from fossil fields, to mountain ranges, to forests like Muir Woods. On the historic side they include battlefields like Gettysburg, the White House, the Statue of Liberty, etc. These are preserved to a uniform high standard, maintained, and staffed by Federal agencies. They vary in popularity from over 10 million visitors a year (Great Smokey Mountain) to 16 thousand (Isle Royale in Michigan), but all are tourist attractions. Most are free (e.g., the White House, the Liberty Bell) or very nearly free ($20.00 for a five day vehicle permit in Yellowstone). The rationale for open access is that U.S. residents have already paid for them with their tax dollars and that they belong to the people not to some commercial enterprise. Park guides must pass rigorous tests of their relevant historic or natural science knowledge before they can interact with tourists. The national parks and monuments are frequently referred to in the popular press as the “Crown Jewels” of the United States.

It should be noted that U.S. National Parks and Monuments are protected from commercial encroachment. The only public initiatives at the Federal level are explicitly anti-commercial. Disney proposed to take over management of Gettysburg and other Civil War battlefield National Monuments, but was denied by Congress. I have written about the controversies surrounding the commercialization of Yosemite in my article “Nature Inc.”

Accordingly, none of the expense and energy that is poured into maintaining the National Parks and Monuments system is connected to or justified as “tourism development.” It is all for the preservation of “our priceless” nature and heritage and simply for the educational benefit and enjoyment of the people. Even though they may be the ultimate driver of a multi-billion dollar U.S. domestic tourist industry, nothing so crass as profits from tourism is considered in the policies leading to their preservation and protection.


What Does the Government Do? | France


By: Bert Gordon

History & Background:

The importance of tourism in France was recognized officially as early as 1910 with the establishment of an Office National du Tourisme, to promote it, under the Minister of Public Works. State sanctioned paid holidays [congés payés] in 1936 stimulated domestic tourism and the developing youth hostel movement [Auberges de jeunesse], which emphasized touring in and becoming acquainted with the various regions of France. Tourism, both domestic and foreign, has continued to grow during the second half of the 20th century and into the 21st.

Themes Shaped the French History:

  • French frontiers in Europe have been historically unstable. Unlike Spain or Britain, the French concentrated their wars on land, visible in fortifications such as the ancient Roman Limnes, Marshal Vauban’s [1633-1707] fortresses, and the Maginot Line in the 1930s.
  • France benefits from the best of northern hemisphere agriculture and industry: good land, food, ports, not much snow or ice, and produces a relatively large population that can be readily mobilized.
  • The Roman legal and episcopal system continues into modern France. The centralized system of prefects, set up by Napoleon, still evokes Roman law today.
  • There is a struggle between civil and religious systems. Invariably the civil wins out, as in the current controversy about wearing religious tokens (Islamic headscarves for women) in public schools.

France Languages Today


Contemporary Tourism Profile

  • In 1970, France ranked third in the number of tourist visits measured by the WTO. The French Revolution Bicentennial celebrations helped move France into first place, where it has remained since 1988.
  • France’s tourism figures, however, are undoubtedly inflated in that many visitors counted as tourists in France are travellers from northern Europe on their way to Spain or Italy. These visitors stop again in France on their way home so, consequently, they are counted twice or more but their stays are shorter than in other countries.
  • In tourist income, France drops to third place, behind the United States and Italy. Terrorist attacks in 2015, however, have slowed tourism growth especially in Paris.

About the Government System

France’s Fifth Republic, in place since 1958, is a system with a strong central government, headed by a powerful executive, the President, elected by universal suffrage since 1962. The current President, François Hollande, is a member of the Socialist party. Presidents are elected for five-year terms with the next election set for 2017.

To promote investment in the tourism industry and the training of its professionals, the government’s Service du tourisme, du commerce, de l’artisanat et services (STCAS; Tourism, Commerce, and Artisan Service) collects information. STCAS operates under a chain of command at the top of which is the Ministry of the Economy and Finance.


Tourism in central government vs local government: What does the government do?The national government gathers statistics related to tourism and disseminates them to those in the industry. National and regional governments advertise to promote tourism around specific themes. Contrats de destination [destination contracts] bring everyone, public and private, in the tourism sector together around a brand to better promote a “new international clientele.” Examples include heritage, as in the case of Mont Saint-Michel and its bay, wine and gastronomic tourism in Burgundy and Bordeaux, mountains such as the Alps and the Pyrenees, and sport and relaxation as in golf in Biarritz. Since 2009 Atout France has been the sole state tourism agency.


Tourism Overview | United Kingdom


By: Rosalinda Ruiz-Scarfuto

Tourism Historical Background

  • United Kingdom (UK) is comprised of several areas including Scotland, Wales, Ireland, and Britain.  European neighbours referred to the nation as England, land of English.  The expanded territories of the British Commonwealth created a network of outposts as far as Australia with potential visitors from abroad visiting the UK.
  • Urban tourism focused on London and was traditionally promoted by railways, financial entities, retailers, and trade commerce highlighting the exotic gardens or large scale exhibitions.
  • Rural tourism drove visitors out to Stonehenge and the Lakes District to Wordsworth and Wainwright.
  • Guides as early as 1800’s listed the sites to see.  Student guides appeared in the 20th century changing the tourist profile.


UK Ranking 2015

  • UK in 2015 was ranked 3rd in a world wide survey as a nation brand (USA 1st and Germany 2nd ).
  • UK ranked 4th out of 50 countries for Tourism and 5th for Culture.
  • UK ranked 6th in a place one “would like to visit if money was no object”.
  • UK ranked 3rd for “vibrant city life and urban attractions” especially “contemporary culture”,
  • UK ranked 6th for “cultural heritage” out of 50 nations.

Tourism as Economic Driver

  • According to Visit Britain 2015 report on trends, England tourism supports 80% of total visitor economy
  • A turnover of £106 BN a year and 2M jobs from direct and indirect services.
  • £85 BN accounted for direct income from tourism for England.
  • Tourism is spread across England ranging from 3.0 BN in the North to 26.6 BN in London
  • Domestic tourism spending totalled £19.6 BN in 2015 with102.7 M overnight stays.
  • Overseas visitor spending totalled£19.BN in 2014, including 29.8 M trips with 233 M overnight stays.
  • 1.3 BN day trips in 2015 with spending totalled at £ 46.4 BN.
  • Accommodation occupancy reached 70% in 2015.

UK Governmental Framework: Tourism Promotion/Funding

“We have been allocated £40m for the Discover England over 3 years (2016/17-2018/19) and as a trusted partner in the GREAT campaign, £22.8m GREAT funding for 2016/2017″ Source:


Private Sector Promoting Tourism 

  • Walking & Literary: Walking routes enrich the tourist offer with overnight stays for longer routes.  Several blogs specialize in British authors including Wordsworth, Wainwright, Tolkien, Woolf.
  • Film Industry: The Harry Potter 9 ¾ platform in Kings Cross Rail station draws crowds for a photo based on the book.  Tours start here.
  • Restaurants & Souvenirs: Food accounts for higher economic impacts than souvenirs unless special collections from local artists are promoted based on legendary figures.
  • Trusts & NGO: Trusts and NGO’s are charities independent from the government.  They are supported by memberships, subscriptions, and campaigns.  The National Trust promotes the renovation and preservation of heritage buildings.  It also promotes walks along heritage routes to visit sites with its “Days Out” campaign. Regional trusts are born out of a local flavour to preserve or buy heritage sites such as the York Trust.
  • Airlines: British Airways, Virgin, Easy Jet, and Quantas promote the UK between commonwealth countries and European cities.
  • Private tour operators: Pamphlets are on display in hotels and accommodations to promote local tour operators.


Tourism in Kuwait | Kuwait


By: Amina Al-Kandari & Shaikhah Al-Mubaraki

Location & Background

  • The State of Kuwait located on the tip of the Persian/Arabian Gulf
  • It shares its boarders with Iraq and Saudi Arabia
  • As of 2014, Kuwait has a population of 4.2 million people; 1.3 million are Kuwaitis and 2.9 million are expatriates
  • Temperature in Kuwait during summer is above 45 °C (113 °F). The highest recorded temperature was 54.4 °C (129.9 °F), which is the highest temperature recorded in Asia.


Historical Snapshots



Tourism Importance

  • Tourism accounts for 1.5 percent of the GDP. In 2015, the tourism industry generated nearly $500 million in revenues. Most  tourists are citizens of GCC countries. – The annual “Hala Febrayer” festival attracts many tourists from neighboring GCC countries, and includes a variety of events including music concerts, parades, and carnivals. The festival is a month-long commemoration of the liberation of Kuwait, and it start from Feb 1- 28th.
  • Yachting is popular activity, Kuwait is the largest leisure boat market in the Gulf region.
  • The modest tourism in Kuwait partly because of its difficult visa conditions and alcohol ban, as well as its harsh weather in summer.