KEVIN FOX GOTHAM
Tulane University, USA
Tourism is a unique commodity that is spatially fixed and consumed at the point of production. Unlike other commodities that people buy and sell in markets, tourism is immobile and nontransportable. To participate as a consumer in the consumption of tourism, one has to travel to the actual place. At the same time, tourism is not just a singular commodity that people buy and sell in markets. Rather, tourism refers to a variety of social practices and institutional forms that involve the production, representation, and consumption of culture, history, and environment. In conventional accounts, tourism is a set of discrete economic activities, a mode of consumption, or a spatially bounded locality or destination that is subject to external forces producing impacts. Other research, in contrast, conceptualizes tourism as a highly complex set of institutions and social relations that involve capitalist markets, state policy, and flows of commodities, technology, cultural forms, and people.
Scholars have developed typologies of tourism and theories of tourist experience, and have investigated the impact of tourism on local economies and modes of cultural creation, among other concerns. One can find conceptualizations of tourism as a search for authenticity, an expression of leisure and performative identity for the postmodern consumer, a malevolent form of colonialism, conquest, and imperialism, a form ...