Edited by Richard Sharpley and David Harrison
Chapter 9: Now everyone can sail: on the need to understand mass tourism
Barring geopolitical shocks, mass tourism is poised to keep on growing over the next few years – steeply. Its upward drift stems from the expansion of two idiosyncratic forces that have shadowed the evolution of post-World War 2 capitalism: increases in discretionary income and paid vacation time. These demand-side singularities spread together with deep and concurrent institutional changes in the production and distribution of travel services. This chapter describes this turn of events following a Great Convergence-inspired model of the development of mass tourism. Development theories have traditionally followed the Ricardian blueprint. Productive world-economy units – nation states mostly – would manufacture items to be traded for others made elsewhere at a cheaper cost. Thus, a virtuous cycle of expansion would stem from their comparative advantages. Over time, however, development has proceeded differently. Large chunks of the same goods and services concentrate in different geographic and national areas that liaise through global value chains, allowing economies of scale, improving innovation and making the final product affordable to increasing numbers of consumers. This thought-provoking hypothesis is illustrated by some instances from the tourism field: the Majorca Compound that turned the tables in hospitality; the seismic impact of low-cost carriers on commercial aviation; and the swelling niche of Croatian nautical tourism that contributes to make possible that now everyone can sail.
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