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Jillian M. Rickly

Tourism demonstrates an interesting social and existential tension. Despite efforts to differentiate oneself from the crowd, there is also an inclination to be a part of the crowd and to participate in collective experience. While the ‘miracle of consensus’ deems some attractions more worthwhile than others, there are also moments when the very presence of others diminishes the individual’s experience. The significance of the collective experience of tourism can be seen in the ways tourists increasingly rely on the experiences of others through word of mouth and social media to inform their own travel behaviour. Coincidentally, destinations increasingly employ staging elements to control tourist crowds and direct their behaviour on site and use design to create atmospherics that foster particular attitudes and experiences. Together the social aspects of tourism and the staging employed by the tourism industry have a tremendous impact on tourists’ experiences of authenticity in these settings. This chapter considers all of these elements in the assessment of two case studies – Mardi Gras Carnival and Kissing the Blarney Stone – to demonstrate distinct experiences that arise from the individual/crowd dynamics of tourism.