Typical Jordan

Typical Jordan

vrijdag 11 september 2015

Concluding comments

Here it is; the last blog! In the first I have promised three objectives, out of which I have discussed two. So the last question remains: Did I experience this trip differently in comparison to previous because of the gained knowledge?

The answer is yes.

Although we had a tight schedule and could not decide on our own, I did experience it differently because of the knowledge as well. When I was walking in Amman, passing all the cafés, shops, restaurants, I thought about urban tourism. When I was shopping for souvenirs, I thought about whether it was staged authenticity. At the dead sea I thought about the gaze and all the senses. At the US AID I also thought about the gaze. And in general, every time someone grabbed his/her camera, I thought about the gaze. Huh, why then?

The camera can be seen as an extension of the eye, with which one records an object in a specific way. Hence, with a photograph the view (hence, the tourist gaze) can be framed. When looking at everyone’s pictures, I noticed some had a different focus (although most of them were ordinary touristic pictures), which can be explained by this theory (Urry, 1990).

Many theories that crossed my mind while travelling I haven’t even discussed, such as religious tourism (at Mount Nebo and the Baptism site) or the media nexus, with Lawrence of Arabia that was mentioned both in travel books as by the travel guide, but there are no blogs left anymore.

Conclusively: during this module as well as in Jordan I have learned that tourism exists in many forms; muscular tourism, urban tourism, mass tourism, techno tourism, just to name a few… 

It all has its own characteristics and therefore, everyone can experience the joy of travelling!

Robinson, M., & Picard, D. (Eds.). (2009). The Framed World: tourism, tourists and photography. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.
Edensor, T. (2009). Tourism. Elsevier
Urry, J. (1990).
The Tourist Gaze: Leisure and travel in contemporary societies, theory, culture & society.

maandag 7 september 2015

Are tourists positive for the host community?

Tourism is one of the most important sources of income for Jordan. One way this has become clear to me, is that Jordanian men are not allowed to talk to women, but Western women are an exception, as this is a source of income that they are dependent of. In short, they need the tourists and in that way, the arrival of tourists is positive for Jordan. However, there are some negative effects too.

Valene Smith (2012) has explored the influence of Wealthy Western tourists upon local cultural context. One possible consequence might the demonstration effect. This implies that the locals take over the life-styles/habits of tourists. According to Al Haija, a change was prevalent in clothing style, language and communication of some Bedouin men in communities near Petra, following their work with Western tourists. 

The wealthy tourists in interaction with locals, dependent of the tourists’ wealth, creates an unequal power relation (Williams, 1998) This might cause tension, for example because a large amount of money has been spend to renovate the historical/touristic sites, whereas the infrastructure to some villages is still poor (Haija, 2011). Moreover, there might be tension because of religion, since Jordan is a Muslim country. Fortunately, most tourists in Jordan were respectfully dressed. An unbalanced power relation may also lead to commodification (see ‘’Is Jordan ‘spoilt’?’’).

A possible solution to negative adaptations of host communities is the development of sustainable tourism by the WTO. Sustainable tourism tries to establish a balance between environmental, economic and socio-cultural aspects of tourism development. In that way, the authenticity of the host communities can be preserved.

Of course there are both negative as positive aspects of tourism towards the host community. However, the arrival of tourists has brought many profits and jobs, whereas the tension as a consequence of the unbalanced power relation is not that prevalent in my opinion. Therefore I believe the positive effects outweigh the negative effects, especially with the rise of sustainable tourism. 

Conclusion: go and visit Jordan!

Smith, V. L. (Ed.). (2012). Hosts and guests: The anthropology of tourism. University of Pennsylvania Press.
 Al Haija, A. A. (2011). Jordan: Tourism and conflict with local communities.Habitat International, 35(1), 93-100.
Williams, S. (1998). Tourism geography. Psychology Press.
Tourism in conflict areas; complex entanglements in Jordan. Journal of travel research. 

What kind of tourist am I?

Finally I will answer that question I have asked in the beginning: What kind of tourist am I?

Erik Cohen (1979) has determined five tourist typologies based on the tourists concept of the ‘centre’ of its world. It  ranges from the recreational tourist to the experimental tourist. The centre of the recreational tourist is in its own society. This implies that tourism is a way to escape from daily-life, and that little quest for authenticity is present. The existential tourist is completely alienated from its own society, and has the deepest quest for authenticity.
Another way to diverge tourist experiences, is to make a division between tourists and travellers. Travellers make ‘trips’, where they experience the destination, whereas tourists go on holiday. The travellers are also known as the ‘backpackers’, and are closest to the existential tourist. The tourists as described here imply mass tourism and are closest to the typology recreational tourist. (McCabe, 2005)

Between those extremes are the diversionary tourist, which is not attached to any society, and only travels to avoid boredom. The experiential tourist is alienated from its own society and seeks therefore for authenticity during travelling. However, they are aware of their ‘otherness’, which the experimental tourists are not. (Cohen, 1979)

When examining the tourist typologies of Cohen, I consider myself the recreational tourist, since I know that my centre is situated in the Netherlands. However, I do seek for authenticity and I am not a mass tourist. During holiday I do want to experience the country, eat the local food, try to understand the society. Moreover, the division between the traveller and the tourist is based on two extreme situations, and I believe I am neither (or both) of the two.

In Jordan, I believe that we also fit in the category recreational tourist, since we had a guide, we didn't use local transport and viewed mostly only the touristic sights. Unfortunately we were not able to engage with the locals. However, the mass tourist that eats fries at snackbar 'Friet van Piet' in Spain is still a totally different way of travelling!

McCabe, S. (2005). ‘Who is a tourist?’A critical review. Tourist studies, 5(1), 85-106.
Cohen, E. (1979). A phenomenology of tourist experiences. Sociology, 13(2), 179-201.

maandag 31 augustus 2015

Is Jordan 'spoilt'?

Because flights have become cheaper over the years, tourism has become available for the majority of the working class. This led to an increase in tourism and eventually, mass tourism. The surge of mass tourism has led to a commercialisation of many tourist destinations that where undiscovered before (T. Edensor, 2009). For some tourists, these areas are now ‘spoilt’ and they have been searching for 'unspoilt areas', which can be named the quest for authenticity (Dean MacCannell). Does Jordan share some characteristics with the ‘spoilt’ areas?

Authenticity is defined as a real presentation of local culture which is not performed.
Staged authenticity, however, can be defined as engineered tourist experiences. Daniel Boorstin explains mass tourism as the experience of the ‘pseudoevent’, ‘an event that gives the illusion that it is ‘real’ but is actually a staged production put on for the benefit of tourists. When the good and services are turned into something purchasable, it can be defined as commodification. Mass tourism is also identified by the creation of cheaper facilities around the touristic sights. More specifically, this can be chains such as McDonalds (T. Edensor, 2009).

All of these characteristics of ‘spoilt’ areas are present in Jordan. Staged authenticity is mostly present in Petra. Many locals are walking around dressed as Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean (although they meant to look like locals from the first centuries BC and AD) selling camel rides, to give the tourists an authentic experience. However, the camel rides that are sold by the Jack Sparrow’s are examples of commodification. In addition, souvenir shops that act like the souvenirs are originally crafted, although they are made in facturies, are also commodified. The creation of cheaper facilities is little, fortunately.

Although staged authenticity is present in Jordan, I only experienced it in Petra, which is the most touristic sight. The rest of the country is, in my opinion, still authentic and not spoilt!

Edensor, T. (2009) Tourism, Elsevier.
Williams, S. (1998). Tourism geography. Psychology Press.

One word: Politics.

As mentioned in another blog (different education, different gaze) we had been invited at the US AID, an organisation that among other things helps renovating the historical sites in Jordan and tries to improve the image of Jordan as a tourist destination. During this presentation he has shown before and after pictures of the sights. Indeed, the sights look definitely more professional. But is it a good thing that a country like the US has complete control over the historical sites in Jordan, hence the pride of the country and their most important marketing products? I think not.
Another question that remains is why the US is spending so much money in Jordan. One word: POLITICS.

Because how is Jordan marketing its country? What does it (politically) have to offer?

Resources? No. It does not have oil, only sand. What then?

Safety. Stability. An oasis in the middle of turmoil. A safe heaven with, especially for the US, a high POLITICAL value.

Because Jordan does not have resources, it needs help in the form of alliances. That is the reason for the help of the US, which explains why Jordan lets the US decide on their pride. They need it.

Hence, politics. Even though it has such a large impact on both the tourists visiting as the other countries invading the country, while waving with their money, the interconnections between politics and tourism (and economics) are still insufficiently explored (Hall, 1993). Political tourism is discussed in some dimensions, such as political marketing of destinations (Beirman, 2003), but this is mostly described in light of terrorism attacks.  

As mentioned, the political situation also influences the tourists visiting and is therefore playing a role in the marketing of Jordan as a tourist destination. More on this subject was in the blog ’Terrifying turmoil?’! 

Beirman, D. (2003). Restoring tourism destinations in crisis: A strategic marketing approach.
Hall, C. M. (1994). Tourism and politics: policy, power and place. John Wiley & Sons.
At the US AID

Terrifying Turmoil?

Were you also a bit nervous to come to Jordan? I believe this is the start of most of the conversations I have had in Jordan. Besides that, I am quite certain that almost every tour guide, director, or other presenter has mentioned that Jordan is such a stable country and that you should definitely visit! Although all the locals claim that it's safe, most students did show some anxiety at the beginning.

Within Honours some did not choose our module out of fear, our trip could have been cancelled if the situation changed, and I decided to wait four hours at the airport in fear of travelling alone. Conclusively, the turmoil has influenced the decision of visiting Jordan. Is it only negative for tourism or also a reason to visit?

According to Brin (2006), some politically-oriented tourists travel to areas in conflict specially because of the turmoil present. Hence, political instability, and therefore danger, can also be stimulating tourism. This form of tourism is named dark tourism. Danger-zone tourism is a subdivision of dark tourism, and refers to tourism where violent conflicts are happening frequently. The dark tourist can be defined as a tourist that consumes exhibits of death and disasters (Lisle, 2007). There are four types of dark tourists, namely politically-oriented tourists, conflict tourists, danger-zoners and war tourists (Buda, 2015).

In Israel, with the Israel-Palestina conflict, most types of dark tourists are present. However in Jordan, as it is a safe country without conflicts in the middle of turmoil, dark tourism will not be a prevalent reason to visit. Nevertheless, dark tourism might attribute to tourism in the way of day tours from Israel. However, in the opinion of the tour guides, Jordan does not profit from this (Buda, 2015).

Conclusively, political conflicts might lead to an increase in tourism in the form of dark tourism. However, unfortunately the negative effects of the turmoil in the area surrounding Jordan on tourism is bigger than the positive effects.

Brin, E. (2006). Politically-oriented tourism in Jerusalem. Tourist Studies, 6(3), 215–243
Buda, D. M. (2015). Affective Tourism: Dark routes in conflict. Routledge.
Buda, D. M., d’Hauteserre, A. M., & Johnston, L. (2014). Feeling and tourism studies. Annals of Tourism Research46, 102-114.
Lisle, D. (2007). Defending voyeurism: Dark tourism and the problem of global security. In P. Burns & M. Novelli (Eds.), Tourism and politics: Global frameworks and local realities (pp. 333–346). Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier. 

Sensational Senses

The gaze by John Urry can be seen as a view within a socially constructed platform. Hence, that theory focuses on your vision, your sight. But do only the eyes matter? No! Because what would be the fun of 'muscular tourism' then, which includes mountanbiking, rafting or other activities where you have to use your entire body and hear, smell and feel your environment?

According to Lindstrom and Kotler (2005), our experience of the world is experienced through multiple senses. This theory has recently been supported and extended in different disciplines, including tourism. Hence, although the gaze by John Urry is still supported, many scholars now point out that this view neglects other senses (than sight) that influence the tourist experience. Consequently, new theories emerged. The more-than-representational theory contains the idea that body, nature and other elements such as tourism are interconnected and that all aspects of the body attribute to the tourist experience. The bodily experiences mostly are tactile, auditory and gustatory, hence feeling, hearing, and tasting. (T. Edensor, 2009). The new theories have gained awareness and are now even implemented in the marketing of tourism (Isacsson, A., Alakoski, L., & Bäck, A. (2009).

In Jordan I have tried to pay attention to my other senses. The one site where the senses excluding sight are extremely relevant for the tourist experience is… The Dead Sea!! The salty water felt smoothly on your skin and the taste of it in your mouth was disgusting. The water in your eyes was actually painful. But mostly it was so strange that you just could not sink, which actually interfered with your cognitive understanding. The dead sea was a sea full of weird senses! Only the vision would definitely not explain the experience. Hence, all the senses together form the opinion about an experience.

This knowledge also criticises the tourists that only take pictures and forget about the other senses. So if this sounds familiar, keep in mind that the other senses are definitely not less important!

Urry, J. (2002). The tourist gaze. Sage.
Edensor, T. (2009). Tourism. Elsevier
Dann, G. M., & Jacobsen, J. K. S. (2002). Leading the tourist by the nose. The tourist as a metaphor of the social world, 209-235.
Isacsson, A., Alakoski, L., & Bäck, A. (2009). Using multiple senses in tourism marketing: The helsinki expert, eckero line and linnanmaki amusement park cases.
Kotler, P., & Lindstrom, M. (2005). Brand Sense: Build Powerful Brands Through Touch, Taste, Smell, Sight, and Sound. New York.