The Challenge to Local Governance under Rapid Coastal Urbanization
Chapter 4: The Development of Mass Tourism in Mexico
INTRODUCTION The previous chapter examined the way in which nature and space form part of a historical narrative in the Mexican Caribbean. It showed how the ideas of ‘discovery’ and ‘modernity’ formed key elements in the discourses supporting the process of economic development, and were employed as antidotes to ‘backwardness’ and ‘neglect’. The creation of a new tourist economy was driven by claims and discourses that equated tourism and entrepreneurship with progress and urban development. In this chapter we take the story forwards, concentrating on the role international tourism has played in Mexico’s development in the second half of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first. To fully appreciate the importance of tourism for the environment and social structure of the Mexican Caribbean, it is particularly important to analyse Mexico’s relations with the USA and the way in which globalization has contributed to the creation of mass tourism during the last 30 years. THE ORIGINS OF MODERN POPULAR TOURISM The word ‘tourism’ was not coined until about 1811. It expressed an essentially modern idea – that people should voluntarily make a journey, usually a circular trip, with the object of seeing new sights and experiences. Travel, as distinct from tourism, had always been with us, but as the derivation of the word suggests (‘travail’), travel implied a functional journey or, as in the case of the eighteenth century ‘Grand Tour’, a journey carried out on one’s own, or in a very small socially exclusive group to familiar sites. Travel...
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