Magazine 2017
International Peer-Reviewed Journal  
*Charlotte Biddle Bocan  
This paper questions the interactions of women in the context of tourism development. The academic  
literature on tourism presented here shows how an understanding of tourism based on a postcolonial,  
feminist and Marxist perspective is pertinent to understand tourism’s social and cultural implications.  
Keywords : Tourism literature, post colonial, Marxist, Feminist  
It is now known that tourism is an important industry. Its economic prowess makes it one of the most important  
economic sector of our time. For that reason, tourism is now often referred as a solution for development.  
Several international organization as well as States and entrepreneurs are developing tourism infrastructures  
based on its capacity to create economic growth as well as employment. Predominantly developed by States,  
management companies, international organizations and entrepreneurs a narrative understands tourism as a  
mean of development. This literature emphasizes on the many positive effects that the development of tourism  
infrastructures provokes . It is mostly the economic impact, the job creation and the “benefits for local  
populations” that allows this discourse to gain popularity especially amongst “in development” countries  
Lanfant 2004, 372). Still, “developed” countries are also very much implicated in the development of tourism.  
It is mostly after the development of mass tourism in the late 1960’s, that tourism has started to be criticized.  
Researches has shown that the industry was having important implication on the degradation of nature as well  
as in the reproduction of unequal social relationships. In an attempt to respond to these critics and try to give  
back to tourism a notorious definition (Cousin 2008), the UNESCO (United Nation Educational Scientific and  
Cultural Organization) as well as tourism developers have created measures and laws to protect environment  
and local population from the impact of “mass tourism”. Despite these measures, tourism continues to gain  
popularity as well as continuously rising questions.  
I will present the academic literature about tourism. Through this showing, we will demonstrate why it is important  
to understand tourism through a feminist, Marxist and postcolonial perspective.  
It is important to mention first what we are talking about when we say tourism. Tourism is a sector that provides  
services for people that are outside their familiar environment, it could either be service for mobility, for housing,  
for food, for entertainment, etc. Tourism is a huge industry that allows to connect different part of the world.  
Obviously, influenced by already existing social hierarchy, tourism tends to develop in consideration of those  
dynamics. In that sense tourism is influenced as well as an influence on globalization. Based on the sociological  
concept of ordering, Adrian Franklin proposes a definition of tourism that tends to grasp how tourism order  
societies; Tourism as a globalizing order. In this way, promoting tourism is not only promoting the development  
of an economic sector or an employment solution, tourism has gained such popularity that we need to  
comprehend its impacts in a broader perspective (Franklin 2008).  
Indeed, by trying to see the impact of tourism, researchers have started to better understand what tourism is  
about. To do so, it is important to understand how tourism started. Influenced by the postcolonial theories  
tourism development can be easily linked with the development of colonialism. Until the late 1960’s where the  
word “mass tourism” arose, academics were not taking tourism seriously (Franklin 2008, 26-27), with the  
development and popularity of critical perspectives, tourism started to be criticized and then better understood.  
International Peer-Reviewed Journal  
In 1840, Thomas Cook proposed the first guided tours of England and started to think about new ways of  
offering services to organize and facilitate travelling. He started imagining new technologies to create connection  
around the world (Franklin 2008, 27). Even if most of those idea never materialized in Cook’s lifetime they  
considerably influenced technologies that were later created during the 20 century (debit and credit card,  
express tickets, international system for traveling, multiple destinations tickets etc.) (Franklin 2008, 27). He also  
created ways to stimulate a desire to travel, it was important to promote traveling at a time where almost  
nobody was thinking of leaving their familiar environment (Withey 1997, 141, Franklin 2008, 28). And so, with  
different promoting techniques, a well-off middle class started participating to leisure travel. Cook capitalized in  
packaging together means of transportation, hotels and entertainment in that desire to facilitate and encourage  
mobility, with this new idea that moving around could be pleasant and relaxing. Even if Thomas Cook was a  
pioneer in promoting tourism (Thomas Cook is still one of the most important travel agency in the world) other  
actors were also very influent in the promotion of tourism.  
In 1904, the colonial state developed resorts, hotels, hill stations to make sure settlers were not bored in the  
colonies (Cousin and Réau 2009, 76). The purpose of these infrastructures were simply to satisfy and distract  
the settlers and assure that they would stay in the colonies (Cousin and Réau 2009, 76). Furthermore, these  
infrastructures were also used to secure colonial influence. Most of the sites were chosen because of their  
cultural and natural interest to show the relevance of colonial rule. Also based on the strategic notion of  
promoting colonies, activities were not merely for pleasure, but mostly to assure colonial domination (Cousin  
and Réau 2009, 76-79). As Edward Saïd rightly explained, travels and travelers of the 20 century were part of  
the orientalism domination and participated strongly in the promotion of an orientalism imagery and narrative  
Said 1980, 39).  
It also started to be obvious how tourism could be a lucrative sector for states (Cousin and Réau 2009, 78-79).  
As Franklin mentioned, tourism was, and still is, an industry that participated strongly in the enrichment and  
empowerment of the States during the 20 century (Franklin 2008, 28). With the industry developing in the  
colonies as well as in Europe and in the United States, tourism became an important tool to maintain and  
develop state power. With the liberation of the European working class in the first half of the 20 century the  
democratization of leisure travel also encouraged tourism development (Cousin and Réau 2009, 78-79). It  
would be quite wrong to think that these claims were systematically provoking a boom in leisure travelling. As  
we have seen, promotional campaign was already huge. The importance of state and international organization  
in the promotion of tourism is in fact still vastly present.  
Despite the liberation of the colonies tourism still produces and encourages unequal dynamics, it takes root in  
the racialization and class domination of the colonial era and continues to be effective to promote the actual  
socioeconomic system, neoliberalism.  
It is now under the banner of neoliberalism that tourism development is described and criticized. With the  
acknowledgement of the link between tourism and colonial domination the critics of tourism started to better  
understand the implication of tourism development today. The rise of multinationals, entrepreneurs and  
international organization is comprehended as the influence of neoliberalism in tourism development (Duffy  
2008, Duffy 2014). This critical literature also developed on how tourism is a new phase of capitalism expansion  
Münster 2012, Wanda Vrasti 2014). Those researches tried to better understand how class, gender and  
racialization system operate in tourism environment. The commodification of object, life, scenery as well as  
people within tourism dynamics shows how tourism is profoundly influenced by a capitalist logic. In Consuming  
the forest in an environment of crisis, Daniel Munster and Ursula Munster explain how the commodification and  
protection” of the Wayanad forest in Kerala has changed the relationship of the population with the forest  
Münster 2012). Their research demonstrate how tourism simultaneously encourages the protection of the  
forest as well as the promotion of safaris and how this contradictory dynamic complicates preexisting tension  
with the Adivasi (the tribal population of the region). Obviously, this is not the first research that shows how  
tourism is intimately reproducing and encouraging unequal dynamics. Nicolas Bautès explains how tourism, in  
International Peer-Reviewed Journal  
the city of Udaipur (India), has profoundly influenced the urbanization of the city by reproducing center /  
peripheries dynamic, creating “enclave” in which “margins and poverty are excluded from the center” (Bautès  
007). Also, trying to respond to the need of tourism research that concentrate mostly on the role of Women in  
tourism (because “Women in tourism” is a “blind spot” of tourism researches (Antomarchi and De La Barre  
010)), Skalpe Ole demonstrates how men are most likely having higher positions than women in tourism  
infrastructure (Ole 2007). Despite an optimist narrative about how tourism is an industry meant to promote  
women employment and simultaneously their empowerment, with a gender perspective, these feminist research  
complicate the implication of women in tourism development. They demonstrate how promotion campaigns  
are mostly male oriented (Morgan and Pritchard 1998) and how tourism publicity sexualizes as well as exotizes  
women in heteronormative and male oriented vocabulary and imagery (Morgan 2004). In a pretty interesting  
analysis of the Incredible India campaign, Vrushali Patil shows how the campaign is based on images of the  
stereotype of the “Indian women” to promote tourism in the international and domestic market, showing how  
globalization through tourism reproduce racialized and gendered relations (Patil 2011).  
After reading a great deal on tourism we have realized how researches using postcolonial, feminist and Marxist  
theory were better suited to understand the implication of tourism development. These approaches makes us  
understand that tourism is a powerful tool to produce gender, class, caste and racial dynamics. Those critical  
lenses gave a more holistic and intersectional comprehension of tourism.  
Still we also realize that too little researches are considering the perspective of the people engaging and  
affected by tourism development, and furthermore women. We think that by engaging a discussion with people  
directly concerned by those developments and formulating an understanding of tourism based on those  
discussions is a good way to find out tourism’s social and cultural implications and try to give an original  
perspective through those different experiences.  
We are planning to make a case study in Hampi Karnataka, and interview women that are working in tourism  
infrastructures as well as tourist women (from the Global North and the Global South). We then plan to analyze  
those interviews to understand better how women, from these three different groups, experience and explain  
tourism and how their implication in tourism infrastructure affects them. We will question how the interaction  
between them also affects their identity.  
Methodologically, we are influenced in two ways by the stand point theory. Firstly, our research tries to move  
away from a positivist approach; it will show only a partial portion of reality. Secondly, we hardly believe that  
everyone carries knowledge, we want to base most of our analysis and comprehension from what will emerge  
from those conversations. We believe that with this framework we will be able to better understand tourism,  
having those two discourses in head but trying to make sense out of it with the help of those who are more  
concerned by it.  
References :  
Antomarchi, V. & S. De La Barre (2010) Tourisme et femmes. Téoros, 29, 87-92.  
Bautès, N. 2007. Exclusion and election in Udaipur urban space : Implication of tourism. In Raj Rhapsodies  
Tourism, heritage and the seduction of history, eds. M. Weirsgrau & C. Henderson, 89-106. Burlington:  
Cousin, S. (2008) L’Unesco et la doctrine du tourism culturel. Civilisation, 41-56.  
Cousin, S. & B. Réau. 2009. Sociologie du Tourisme. Paris.  
Duffy, R. (2008) Neoliberalising Nature : Global Networks and Ecotourism Development in Madagasgar.  
Journal of sustainable tourism, 16, 327-344.  
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(2014) Interactive elephants : Nature, tourism and neoliberalism. Annals of Tourism Reaserch, 88-101.  
Franklin, A. (2008) The tourism ordering : Taking Tourism more seriously as a globalising ordering.  
Civilisations, 57.  
Lanfant, M.-F. (2004) L’appel à l’éthique et la référence universaliste dans la doctrine officielle du tourisme  
international. Revue Tiers Monde, 2, 364-386.  
Morgan, N. 2004. Problematizing Place Promotion. In a companion to tourism, ed. A. A. Lew, Hall, Micheal.,  
Williams, Allan M., 173-183. Malden: Blackwell.  
Morgan, N. & A. Pritchard. 1998. Tourism promotion and power : creating images, creating identities.  
Chichester: Willey.  
Münster, D., Münster, Ursula. (2012) Consuming the forest in an environment of crisis : Nature tourism,  
forest conservation and neoliberal agriculture in south India. Development and change, 43, 205-227.  
Ole, S. (2007) The CEO gender pay gap in tourism industry - Evidence from Norway. Tourism Management,  
8, 845-853.  
Organisation des Nations Unies pour l’éducation la science et la culture, B. M. 1980. Tourisme passeport  
pour le développement? Regards sur les effets culturels et sociaux du tourisme dans les pays en  
développement. Paris: Paris Économica.  
Patil, V. (2011) Reproducing-Resisting Race and Gender Difference : Examining India’s Online tourism  
campaign from a transnational feminist perspective. Journal of women in culture and society, 37, 185-210.  
Rifai, T. 2017. 2017 : exploiter le potentiel du tourisme pour bâtir un monde meilleur. Organisation Mondiale  
du tourisme.  
Risi, M. 2011. Le tourisme est vital pour atteindre les objectifs de développement dans le monde, affirment  
les ministres du tourisme et les Nations Unies. Organisation Mondiale du tourisme.  
Said, E. W. 1980. L’Orientalisme. Paris: Éditions du Seuil.  
Wanda Vrasti, J. M. M. (2014) No good deed goes unrewarded : The values/virtues of transnational  
volunteerism in neoliberal capital. Global Society, 28, 336-355.  
Withey, L. 1997. Grand Tours and Cook’s Tours : a History of Leisure Travel 1750 to 1915. New York:  
Berkeley : University of California Press.  
Université du Québec à Montréal , [email protected]