Cultural tourism has been a part of people’s lives for centuries as many individuals have traveled thousands of miles to visit different places. One of the major reasons for such travels used to be religious beliefs. At present, this field of tourism has become a global trend as transportation systems enable people to travel to other countries and continents within hours (Boniface, 2013). Religion remains an important stimulus for people to travel, but other reasons have also come into play. It is necessary to note that the demographics of travelers can be characterized by a significant diversity (Du Cros & McKercher, 2014).
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It is also important to remember that cultural tourism has its peculiarities that are associated with such issues as sustainability. These characteristic features affect themes and styles of travel writing that can be characterized by diversity, usability, and sustainability.
One of the most remarkable peculiarities of cultural tourism is related to the stakeholders. Diverse populations are involved in the process. First, cultural tourists are people of all ages, all races, all cultural backgrounds, and even different financial status (Du Cros & McKercher, 2014). One of the major features common for all these people is their desire to gain knowledge and experience new things. Du Cros and McKercher (2014) also stress that travelers often have limited time and financial resources, which has a significant influence on their behavior.
Tourists try to see and experience as much as possible. These needs often affect local people’s lives due to increased traffic, crowds, and the like. The researchers add that cultural tourists have certain expectations that also define their behaviors and attitudes. Du Cros and McKercher (2014) claim that the majority of tourists try to behave properly and do the right things, but they may be misguided or may lack guidance, which causes the dissatisfaction of all stakeholders.
When speaking about cultural tourism, it is essential to consider some peculiarities of local people and travel writers. As has been mentioned above, local people are very different, but in many cases, these individuals are affected negatively. Those living near major touristic attractions tend to have negative attitudes towards tourists as tourism is associated with pollution, overcrowding, and so on. Finally, travel writers are also influential stakeholders that affect the industry. This population is also quite diverse, which has various effects on their writing in terms of means, voice, narrative, and so on. All these stakeholders’ characteristic features have a significant impact on cultural tourism writing.
As far as travel writing is concerned, it is possible to note that it is characterized by certain diversity with the increasing prevalence of the use of technology. Cardell and Douglas (2015) claim that blogging has become a widespread practice. At that, more traditional types of writing (such as travel books and magazines) are also common. Travel writers also tend to incorporate technology into their narratives, which is manifested through the provision of various tips concerning the use of devices when traveling.
Travel writing’s style is also quite diverse, but there are some common features. Cardell and Douglas (2015) state that travel writers provide many details that are often very interesting, exotic, and, in simple words, eye-catching. Some writings include a certain degree of autobiography and self-reflection. At the same time, some writers provide a set of helpful tips and interesting details that can make the travel experience pleasant and unforgettable. In many cases, travel writings are similar to advertising texts that highlight some features of the offered products. For instance, some writings are aimed at shedding light on certain aspects of destinations as these areas are promoted by travel companies.
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Interestingly, travel writers tend to have different views on tourists and travel writing as well as travel writers. McWha, Frost, Laing, and Best (2015) emphasize that travel writers often see a modern traveler (or rather an ideal traveler) as an “anti-tourist” who does not have any negative impact on the visited places (p. 85). The focus is on environmental, social, and cultural sustainability as tourists are expected to get acquainted with destinations and appreciate the environment, culture, and so on.
McWha, Frost, and Laing (2017) note that travel writers can shape tourists’ views and behaviors. The researchers stress that many writers try to describe and promulgate sustainable practices, but the focus on marketing goals is also present. The presence of the marketing element may be the reason for some writings’ unsustainability. For instance, McWha et al. (2015) argue that many travel writers “still reflect harmful cultural stereotyping and commodification” (p. 85).
They fail to describe cultural peculiarities or existing trends in an impartial manner, which often has an influence on the way tourists see the destinations they visit. At that, some writers see themselves as cultural mediators who serve as an interpreter and mediator at the same time. It is also noteworthy that travel writers develop tourists’ expectations and help them meet these expectations.
When it comes to major topics and ethical issues discussed in travel writing, these include environmental concerns, social problems, cultural peculiarities, sustainability, and so on. The stakeholders mentioned above are concerned about preserving places and their cultural relevance. Tourism is often associated with pollution and the change of infrastructure (Boniface, 2013). Local people may be dissatisfied with the construction of new roads, hotels, shops, malls, etc. On the one hand, the development of infrastructure is beneficial for local people and the community as it is associated with new jobs, new business opportunities, and so on.
Local governments and people appreciate these benefits. However, they also understand that major changes jeopardize the future of the site as a cultural, touristic attraction. Local people, activists, travel writers, and tourists try to behave in a sustainable manner. Cultural issues are also commonly discussed in travel writing. Local customs and traditions are described. Travel writers try to encourage travelers to be respectful and behave properly. This goal is always not achieved as writers also have certain stereotypes and biases.
In conclusion, it is possible to note that travel writing has been transforming for centuries. Contemporary writing is characterized by diversity in terms of styles, topics, details, and so on. Travel writers try to inform travelers and promote sustainable behaviors. Nevertheless, these objectives often remain unattained as travel writers have to address certain marketing aspects since their works can be a part of marketing effort. Therefore, issues associated with sustainability still prevail in many writings. It is possible to note that this genre is acquiring new characteristic features that are consistent with the peculiarities of modern society. Travel writers can often be regarded as mediators as they help travelers to make their traveling experiences enjoyable.
Boniface, P. (2013). Managing quality cultural tourism. New York, NY: Routledge.
Cardell, K., & Douglas, K. (2015). Travel blogs. In C. Thompson (Ed.), The Routledge companion to travel writing (pp. 298-307). New York, NY: Routledge.
Du Cros, H., & McKercher, B. (2014). Cultural tourism (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.
McWha, M., Frost, W., & Laing, J. (2017). Sustainable travel writing? Exploring the ethical dilemmas of twenty-first-century travel writers. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 25(10), 1401-1417.
McWha, M., Frost, W., Laing, J., & Best, G. (2015). Writing for the anti-tourist? Imagining the contemporary travel magazine reader as an authentic experience seeker. Current Issues in Tourism, 19(1), 85-99.