Slow Tourism

With Slow Tourism: Experiences and Mobilities being published this week we asked one of the authors Simone Fullagar to tell us a bit about the slow tourism movement.

Slow food, slow media, slow money and slow tourism. The slow movement has begun to permeate everyday ways of thinking about our relationship to the world. Across the globe media reports, personal blogs, travel books and slow conversations are circulating ethical questions about how we might live more sustainably and embody a different experience of time, place and social connection. Slow living is growing because it connects everyday pleasures with a political sensibility that gives rise to what sociologists have called the sphere of ‘life politics’. Perhaps we are at a tipping point where individuals are expecting more from life than the banal promise of happiness implicit in hyper consumerism, the slave like desire for success in work or the competitiveness evident in the ultimate travel conquests on the ‘bucket list’.

The slow movement approaches sustainability from an angle that seeks different solutions to our environmental problems and cultural limitations. What does it actually mean to slow down and thoughtfully consider our food production and consumption practices? In our high tech lifestyles how might we start to reconnect with nature or appreciate diverse food cultures that are at risk of being lost? Where can we find low carbon mobilities that enable us to embrace a more leisurely pace of life by bicycle, foot or even canoe? Kate Soper refers to this desire for other ways of moving and engaging with the world that nicely captures the slow ethos – a form of ‘alternative hedonism’. Our book on slow tourism explores these diverse concerns in a variety of contexts across the world – from WOOFing, wandering and cycle touring in Australia to the experience of slow Japan, the Indigenous context of the Yukon, yoga traditions in India and a volunteer project in Fiji. Some chapters focus on the sensory experience of the slow tourist (beyond the tourist gaze) who travels via canals, hitchhikes or undertakes pilgrimages, while others seek to understand the tourism provider – Dutch entrepreneurs in France and the rise of gastronomic tourism in Brazil. Rather than seek to pin down slow tourism as a definitive concept we aim to open up the slow conversation to see how it unfolds and where it might lead us next.

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