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Tourism, Leisure and Society Essay


Introduction

Leisure is an important aspect in everybody’s life. During leisure people express themselves and become more relaxed. Tourism is physical and metaphorical. Travel is a fascinating metaphor because it refers not to the fixed but to a journey, a crossing from the familiar centre to the exotic periphery.

Tourism is also a metaphor for the imposition of the western gaze. There is enjoyment by the rich of the exotic difference of the other and exploitation too. Travelling has also become an increasingly popular way of discovering one’s identity. It is based on theories such as socialization theory, ideology, and disciplines and technologies of the self. There is no such thing as homogenous identity; all are multiple of postmodern and globalised world of fragmentation and disorientation.

Clearly, the concept of identity is linked closely to issues of interpretation and representation, which are pivotal to discussion about heritage and arts tourism. For instance, the exploration of existential authenticity which can be sought through travel can be an important part of identity construction. This paper looks at the definition of leisure, the definition of tourism and their theoretical concepts. It also looks at the relationship between tourism, leisure lifestyle, and affluence, and theory of consumption in regard to self-identity.

Leisure

Leisure is associated with different behaviours and activities from the ones expressed on a work day. Research related to leisure has been focusing on the psychological attributes that are linked to leisure as researchers try to define what is meant by the term leisure (Jenkins 2003). Theoretically, it has been found that leisure is associated with gender, that is, men and women exhibit different characteristics when it comes to leisure.

This depends on how they were brought up and the roles allocated to them by the society (Robinson (1977). The society has different perceptions when it comes to gender and it expects men and women to portray some differences in their activities. However, we can not fully understand the effects of gender in leisure without first understanding what is leisure or what activities are considered to be leisure (Beere 1990).

Tourism

Tourism can be defined as a type of travel done for recreational purposes or for leisure. It can also be travel to accomplish business purposes. According to the World Tourism Organization (2010), a tourist is a person who travels to an area that is out of his normal environment and stays there for more than one day but not more than one year.

Reasons for such a travel would be for leisure or business. Tourism is an international activity that has become popular in many countries (Cooper & Hall 2005). There are three types of tourism: domestic tourism, inbound tourism, and outbound tourism. Domestic tourism involves residents travelling in their own country; inbound tourism involves residents of another country travelling to a given country while outbound tourism involves residents travelling outside their own country (Ellis 2010).

Tourism and Leisure Lifestyle, and Affluence

The concept of searching for self, a form of identity work, is frequently cited among the lifestyle travellers as a motivating factor for their engagement in lifestyle travel. Many people view tourism as a self-discovery which is fruitfully undertaken when one is physically away from his home environments as travel often allows for the experience of new and different situations (Kelly 1983).

However, while some of the lifestyle travellers consciously undertake a search for a more secure sense of self through travel; others instead recognize their identity work retrospectively (World Tourism Organization, 2010). Individuals are able to express their identity by having special interest in tourism. Specialised tourism involves a group or individuals tours by people with a specific subject. Generally, the people concerned exercise the same profession or have a common hobby (Unger & Kernan 1983).

Individuals can be able to form or express their identity by having a special interest in tourism. This is known as leisure where participants are able to find personal fulfilment, enhance their identity, and express themselves (Neulinger 1994). In this kind of tourism, tourists tend to seek durable benefits such as self-enrichment, recreation or renewal of self, self-expression, and a sense of belonging.

These tourists have developed a unique ethos based on norms, beliefs and principles associated with particular chosen activity. Special interest tourism can include cultural heritage tourism and eco-tourism that places an emphasis on interaction with the natural environment.

In examining the characteristics of tourists researchers have become increasingly aware that not all tourists are homogenous. This fact becomes even more important considering the more recent development of special interest tourism and niche markets within tourism (Crounch, 1999). The motivations for travel and tourism usually arise due to some need to escape from the home environment or from the burdens of daily life.

Motivations for pleasure travel are associated with a desire for natural attractions, climate, relaxation, and many more. According to Jacoby et al (1976), the basic trait in human nature which causes individuals to want to leave things with which they are familiar and to go and see at first hand different exciting cultures and places is a key motivation for tourists. An interest in cultural and the customs of a destination could be considered cultural motivations.

Subsequently, social motivations such as the pursuit of hobbies, continuation of education and learning could be viewed as educational motives for travel. Tourism can provide an outlet not only for escaping or avoiding something, but also for seeking something which provides intrinsic rewards as self-fulfilment, and learning (Henderson 1991).

Cultural tourism

Cultural tourism can be used to foster integration as well as for national, regional and local identity construction. It can be used to revive traditions, renew cultural pride, and strengthen identity reconstruction. Ethnic groups use cultural tourism to express their culture and identity. There is a complex interrelationship between tourism and arts, where tourism can sometimes serve to compromise artistic integrity or quality, or impact upon the authenticity of performance.

It can also be helpful in revitalizing artistic traditions and lead to new and exciting forms of creative self-expression. People express their identities through tourism and leisure activities in different ways. Some use it to identify themselves with their cultures, customs, and others with their societal values.

Identity in this case can be defined in different perspectives. For instance, a person can be identified with his/her profession (such as a lawyer, an accountant) or can be identified by ethnic, culture or race. Identity is a term used to describe a person or his individuality. For instance many people would prefer to travel to aboriginal tourist sites to identify themselves with their culture or religion (Winter, 2007).

Tourism and affluence

The other aspect that influences tourism is affluence. This refers to the availability of good standards of living to a big population. With technological development, the society has been changed from a rural to urban and the standards of living have greatly improved. The level of income has increased and people can now access better standards of living (Wilkerson 2003).

The increase in the level of income per household has resulted in an increase in travel. People now have more disposable income which they can use to enjoy their free time (Samdahl 1991). However, this does not apply to all populations because there is a significant part of the population that lives below the poverty line and can neither afford the time nor the money for travelling.

Also some people are yet to discover the importance of travelling and they prefer to invest their money in productive investment rather than “waste” it on travelling. There is a group of people who travel to tourist sites simply because of business purposes and not necessary because they derive satisfaction from it (Falk, 2009). We can not therefore say that, affluence is positively related to tourism because some people do not value tourism.

Standards of living dictates the kind of lifestyle one can involve him/herself in. they are families which struggle to provide the basic things and have very little money to spend on leisure or tourism. As we know, tourism (especially international tourism) is quite expensive and not many people can afford it (Conway, 2010). A person can use tourism to identify himself with his financial stability. There are some leisure activities that are associated with the rich, for instance playing of golf identifies one with high class.

Theory of Consumption

The consumption of tourism is defined in relation to the decisions, behaviours, and feelings held by a tourist before he starts his travel, during the trip, and after the trip.

Different people have different behaviours and opinions when it comes to travelling. There are some tourism places that have a high rate of consumption simply because people have positive feelings towards them. For instance, many people would make a decision to travel to a country that is believed to have the most beautiful sceneries in order to satisfy their curiosity (World Tourism Organization, 2008).

Certainly, tourism consumption is assumed to be socially predisposed and culturally structured (Sharpley 1999). There are four basic emotions associated with a tourist’s psychological state. These emotions are reflected in the ways tourists consume the product of tourism.

According to Rojek (1997), tourists wish to take a trip to tourism sites in order to feel a sense of societal belonging and also associate with their culture. Rojek found out that tourism consumption is associated with socio-cultural, psychological, and emotions concerns of the tourists.

Tourism and leisure can not be relied always for self-identity

Most tourist visits tourist attraction sites to identity themselves with the socio-cultural beliefs and practices that were practiced by their forefathers. Others travel to satisfy their curiosity while there is a group of people who travel to satisfy themselves emotionally. However, not all people are able to express their identity by using tourism (Beaver 2000). Tourism and leisure do not always help in self-identity; at times, they can influence the day-to-day life through linkage with leisure activity.

It can also lead to self-change. Tourism can generate the ‘fateful moment’ in the self-identity and personality of the tourist person. The tourist can deliberately and self-consciously remove normal day-to-day identity and be exposed to new circumstances and experiences- and so construct a new identity or at least challenge the existing identity. Some researchers have found that, self-change might certainly embrace other tourists, for instance, the growing numbers in search of some form of authenticity.

Moreover, authenticity is a socially constructed concept; it is perceived and built by tourist themselves. the simple assumption that individuals seek to escape from the monotony of their daily lives to authentic experiences of other places, artefacts and cultures has been challenged by post-structuralist approaches in terms of both the possibility of escape and the grounds of authenticity (Jaworski & Pritchard 2005).

Tourism and leisure can not always be relied upon by individuals to form or express their identity. There are times when people visit historical sites not because they want to identify themselves with their culture or customs, but just for enjoyment. Also it does not mean that, wealthy people can only identity themselves with the leisure lifestyle that is known for the rich. A rich person can choose to spend his leisure time alone, beside a river but this does not mean that he is expressing his identity.

Actually there are people who adopt a certain lifestyle not because they like it or are trying to express their identity, but because their friends are in it. Some people choice the kind of leisure lifestyle that is convenient for them individually but not necessary to express their identity. Some societies dictate the kind of leisure lifestyle to be adopted by individual. Most people find themselves adopting these lifestyles not because they want to express their identity, but because that is what is available and not to be left out by others.

Conclusion

Traditionally, leisure has been defined as free-time. This is the time when one is out of the normal work activities for self recreation. It is also defined as time spent on activities that are termed as free time activities, this includes sports, swimming, visiting the gym among others.

On the other hand, tourism is defined as travel for business purposes, leisure or just for pleasure. Tourism is determined by the purpose of travel. Some people travel for work purpose, for instance, they use airlines, roads, or train to get to their work places, students also travel to and from school and this cannot be considered as tourism. The purpose of travel that determines tourism includes visiting friends, business trips, recreation, entertainment, and the list is endless.

Tourism and leisure can be used to identify a person with his culture, religion, social class, marital status. A person travels to an aboriginal site to identify himself with his culture while another person will go to the gym or play golf as a way of identifying himself with his social class. However, this is not always the case. Some people are not able to identity themselves in tourism but instead, end up adopting social changes in their life which can impact them negatively.

Reference List

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Wilkerson, C., 2003. Travel and Tourism: An Overlooked Industry in the U.S. and Tenth District. Economic Review 88 (Third Quarter): 45–72.

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