This week we are publishing Tourist Behaviour and the Contemporary World by Philip L. Pearce. Here, Philip tells us a bit about his motives for his research as well as sharing some of his personal experiences.
Putting together a book about tourist behaviour is a solid task. Why do it, especially if you and others have done it before? My own reasons are professional but also fuelled by a mix of curiosity and amazement at what I keep seeing as a tourist and researcher. Certainly there are good academic and professional reasons to bring together studies about what tourists do and what they experience across the planet. This can be a basis for helping plan and manage better experiences and may in time reduce negative outcomes for settings and societies. But in this blog post I want to expand on the personal motives a little more. The book Tourist Behaviour and the Contemporary World provides some narrow glimpses of what fascinates me. For example, it relates one personal episode when I was travelling in Jerusalem, a great city of diversity where the present tensions still reflect its long and tortured past. The episode I recount in the book is one of being challenged and threatened by security when taking a photo of a queue, a harmless enough activity but transformed in that setting by everyone’s heightened tension. While I explain in the book that a quick process of ejecting the film saved the day, what is not mentioned is the kindness and concern of my hosts. This is part of the fascination of travel; the ability to build a network around the planet of great people with whom you want to spend more time , who are interested in what you do and know and who have what my Thai friends call jai dii –“good hearts.” Some are serious and earnest but enjoyable companions, some are flirtatious and simply sexy, and others are uncannily like oneself but operating in a different country and environment. Getting to know them all is humbling and continually involving.
Not all of us as tourists have the chance to travel in ways which can deepen our friendships but nearly all can gain a new attachment and build a sense of care for places apart from our home regions. This is explored in the book in terms of learning and memory as well as by considering patterns of motives. At a personal level again I find this to be a great resource. Jobs and opportunities always tie you to one location, at least for a while. But the travel you can do builds an autobiographical memory, internal videos of well remembered places of beauty, human achievement, culture and fun. So my personal attachments are numerous – wild open spaces such as Scotland, The Tibet Qinhai plateau, and Australia’s Kangaroo Island have been good for me – but I can also enjoy city excitement and the push of modern inventiveness and technology such as Shanghai, New York and Milan.
Some research represented in the book is the result of long planned strings of work thought about over some time and continuing to evolve in my mind and through empirical efforts. The travel career pattern of motivation is one long running strain of my thinking which helps locate how tourists build their travel life. Other work described in the book has been conducted more opportunistically. The study about tourist scams has evolved quite quickly since a Dutch taxi driver exploited my late night tiredness and 20 hour plane trip by charging me 200 Euros at 2 am one morning. The study of humour is mentioned in the book and is growing into a major interest as humour can function so effectively to connect and comfort people in confusing settings and relationships. I have been comically entertained in Africa by guides and fellow tourists, including my oldest son and two amusing English guys when we spent 5 wildlife oriented days rollicking across South Africa’s Krueger National Park and its harsh landscapes. Sometimes you just have to have been there, but that in a way is the point. Travel and tourist behaviour gives many a chance to be there. It is a topic to both continue to experience and analyse.