What is the meaning of ‘local’ in today’s globalised world?

This month we published Reinventing the Local in Tourism edited by Antonio Paolo Russo and Greg Richards. The book examines how tourist destinations are being transformed by the development of peer-produced tourism and hospitality services giving tourists a more ‘authentic’ experience. In this post, the editors of the book discuss the key themes of their new book.

Reinventing the Local in TourismFor decades, tourism research has interpreted the transformative force of tourism as an external agent which undermines the inherent, ‘genuine’ qualities of places. Even today, the planning and management approaches of many destinations are based on this idea.

However, recent conceptual turns in the social sciences suggest that this way of looking at the role of tourism in places may now be inadequate: in the context of a mobile, connected, culturally-globalized society, what is ‘local’? Does the ‘local’ make any sense any more as an immanent quality of place? And how does tourism then engage with the rapidly changing concept of ‘localness’? Does it make it or destroy it?

This debate is today at the heart of contemporary urbanism and policymaking. Many cities and regions around the world are now increasingly seeking to redefine themselves (their citizenship, their living landscapes, their brands) and develop fresh approaches to dealing with the new mobilities, both physical and cultural, produced by tourism.

This book presents a number of conceptual approaches and empirical studies by renowned scholars and younger researchers connected to the ATLAS network. Its ambition is to shed new light on this broad topic and hopefully contribute to redefining a relevant agenda for tourism research and place management.

For more information about the book, please see our website.

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