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Being a Tourist as a Chosen Experience in a Proximity Destination

  • Diaz Soria, Inmaculada
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2016
DOI: 10.1080/14616688.2016.1214976
OAI: oai:HAL:halshs-01371723v1
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Being a tourist isn't a passive attitude. It is the result of a conscious decision essentially based onhow individuals build what they perceive as unknown and how they decide to get to know it. In other words, tourists deliberately create a distance with the destination which allows them to enjoy the tourist experience as something exceptional. This paper is part of an ongoing research and focuses on the subjective construction of the otherness, since this process determines what is left to be discovered. First, a theoretical overview will introduce the concepts of usual environment, proximity and tourist.Then, we will focus on guided tours as a mechanism of mediation between individuals and places. Finally, we will move on to the case of Barcelona's walking tours and the local participants' experience as a way to adopt a tourist's approach. Preliminary results show, first, four categories of experience of proximate guided tours: educational, expert, recreational and tourist. Then, they focus on the proximity tourist experience usingUrry and Larsen's notion of the " tourist gaze " and Tuan's theory on the tourist and the resident's points of view. According to these theories,participants'motivations andtheir individual frame of reference define a tourist's point of view. Based on that,results show that proximity tourists and traditional tourists share curiosity as motivation but don't have the same points of reference.In spite of that, the feeling of proximity with the destination doesn't constitute a barrier to become a tourist. It is the conscious adoption of the tourist's role which makes the individual gaze upon the visited areas like a tourist, regardless of the proximity with the environment. This approach of proximity tourism constitutes a way to enhance familiarplaces anddevelop tourism in an environmentally concerned context where proximate destinations are being promoted.

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