An Interview with Hazel Andrews

We have just published The British on Holiday by Hazel Andrews. It is the first full length ethnography of charter tourists and uses tourism as a vehicle to explore issues of current social importance. It focuses on charter tourists in the resorts of Palmanova and Magaluf on the Mediterranean Island of Mallorca. We caught up with Hazel and asked her a few questions about her research.

What first attracted you to the study of British tourists in Mallorca?
When I was studying for my MA the argument that tourism is a search for difference was often discussed in the literature. I had the opportunity to visit Mallorca for quite a different project based on the sustainable tourism policies in the municipality of Calvià, this gave me a view of what was happening in charter tourism and it didn’t seem to be very much about the idea of difference to me. So I was interested to find out more about what this particular group of tourists were looking for and how that relates to how they view themselves and their place in the world.

What makes your book different from others that have been published before?
I use tourism as a means to explore sociocultural issues relating to how people understand who they are and make sense of their world. It is based on a micro level study of touristic practices involving the use of participant observation. As such the book contains lots of information about tourists and tourism but also links to broader academic debates about social constructions of identity and how these are articulated.

Which researchers in your field have particularly inspired you?
I think that the influences on my work are quite eclectic and are drawn from both within the study of tourism and the wider social sciences so inspiration comes from all sorts of different work and people. In formulating a theoretical approach I have been inspired by the works of Pierre Bourdieu and the anthropology of Michael Jackson in particular. Tom Selwyn has also been a great inspiration not just in terms of theory but also in terms of pursuing ideas and practice based on important academic and educational values. Cathy Palmer and Monica Hanefors have also been sources of inspiration in their work about tourists.

As a tourism academic you must get to travel to some exotic locations. Where is the most unusual place you have travelled to for work?
I probably do less travelling than people imagine but when I do travel, exotic or not, I approach each new place with interest.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing books?
I enjoy being with my family, reading books by Alexander McCall Smith and watching Scandinavian detective programmes.

What are your plans for future research?
I am currently co-editing a book about liminal landscapes and will also be producing another book on the connection between tourism and violence.  I would like to develop the liminal landscapes work further with a project about beaches and to continue my research about constructions of identity in relation to UK produced tourism marketing material. I am keen to develop more work around tourists that involves an ethnographic approach.  I’m also sure that there’s more work to be done in Mallorca.

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