Edited by Dieter K. Müller
Chapter 7: Infusing tourism geographies
Tourism geographers usually claim that tourism matters. Besides being “one of the largest industries on earth,” it is sometimes claimed that tourism matters for many other realms of life. However, reading a number of critical accounts of the status of tourism geographies, it seems that tourism geographers have difficulties convincing fellow geographers and other scientists about the importance of tourism research. At the same time tourism geographers are influential in the wider field of tourism studies. Against this background the authorasks whether the academic community isdoing anything wrong, and what itshould do differently. It is further argued that a large part of tourism studies has never, at least not in a comprehensive manner, moved away from merely being a field of study focusing on a single industry, despite ambitions to the contrary. Hence, the tourism industry and increasingly also tourism as practice have been the focus of tourism research. This can be justified, but as scientific practice it fails to necessitate the attention of other scholars. It is further argued that tourism geographies in fact are appreciated within tourism research, since they at least attempt to see tourism as an integrated part of another development or phenomenon. Examples are the tourism–climate change nexus andthe role of tourism within regional development. However, in order to move forward and realize the full potential of tourism geographies, the author argues, it is necessary to change the object of study. Instead of researching tourism, tourism geographersshould engage in studying regional development, climate change, urban and rural change, and economic geography and at the same time highlight tourism as an integrated agent of change. This shift from treating tourism as a study object towards using tourism as a perspective on all kinds of societal development, or an infusion of tourism geographies into other fields of research, opens new alleys for tourism research and, in the author’s view, offers exciting ways of utilizing tourism geographiesknowledge on tourism and mobility for explaining geographical change.
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