All abilities trek to the summit of Mount Kosciuszko - Australia's highest peak

All abilities trek to the summit of Mount Kosciuszko - Australia's highest peak
All abilities trek to the summit of Mount Kosciuszko - Australia's highest peak - © Jennifer Johnson 2008

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Embodied Tourist

As noted elsewhere on the blog, a great deal of research that has been undertaken has been predominantly about mobility disability. A number of reports and articles have recently been published on other embodiments. What the studies recognise is that disability is not a homogenous constructs where there is an inherent complexity based on the dimensions of access and the level of support needs. Providing for different embodiments is a starting point to a sophisticated approach to developing quality accessible destination experiences. Over the next few days I will provide a brief synopsis of articles that focus on people with vision, mental health and hearing impairments that provide insight into tourism provision for these different embodiments. Tourism has been dominated by the visual "gaze" (see Urry, 1990) but as Photo 1 presents an example where the other bodily senses of taste, touch, smell, hearing and movement need to be incorporated into experiences that can be enjoyed by all.
Photo 1: Epic Enabled Tours facilitating a tactile experience with a baby cheetah (© Sabine Smith 2010) http://www.epic-enabled.com/

As a brief introduction to the concept of embodiment, the introduction to the following chapter by Small & Darcy (2011) is provided to warm people are for the more specific refereed journal articles, chapters in books and industry reports that consider the embodiments of vision, mental health and hearing impairments.
Small, J., & Darcy, S. (2011). Chapter 5 - Understanding Tourist Experience Through Embodiment: The Contribution of Critical Tourism and Disability Studies. In D. Buhalis & S. Darcy (Eds.), Accessible Tourism: Concepts and Issues (pp. 72-96). Bristol, UK: Channel View Publications.

Copyright © 2011 Channelview Publications All rights reserved.

Introduction

This chapter seeks to understand the tourist experiences of people with disabilities, including the seniors who also constitute the accessible tourism market. Tourism experiences can be viewed through many approaches. The following discussion is situated within the framework of critical theory in tourism studies and critical disability studies theory, both of which focus on ends rather than means, examining social power structures with a commitment to emancipation. The lived experience of the person is the subject matter and within the approaches of critical tourism and critical disability studies, the lived experience is a bodily experience. This chapter examines the embodied experience of those with disabilities within the tourism context. For the purposes of this chapter, the authors take Osborne’s (2001, p.51) definition of embodiment where “‘embodiment’ is used to describe the way in which the bodily bases of individuals’ actions and interactions are socially structured: that is, embodiment is a social as well as natural process’. In this case, embodiment as it relates to disabilities includes mobility, hearing, vision, cognitive/learning, sensitivity and mental health but, in the developing field of critical disability and tourism studies, the areas most researched are mobility and vision. While it is recognized that disabled/nondisabled subjectivity intersects with other subjectivities such as gender, age, culture, ethnicity, sexuality, economic position etc., a dearth of research in tourism and disability studies research (and the word length of this chapter) prevent a discussion of these intersections.

Boorstin (1987) in The Lost Art of Travel distinguished between travellers of the past and today’s tourists, noting that “until almost the present century, travel abroad was uncomfortable, difficult and expensive” (p80). Indeed, the word travel comes from travail –“meaning ‘trouble’, ‘work’ or ‘torment’” (Boorstin 1987, p.85). He viewed the traveller of the past as someone who worked at the experience, whereas the tourist of today waits for things to happen to them. Boorstin (1987) claimed: “Nowadays it costs more and takes greater ingenuity, imagination and enterprise to fabricate travel risks than it once required to avoid them” (p.117).  Today’s travel might be seen as easier than travel of the past.  Today, air travel allows us to cross the globe within a day. Travel companies now have organized tours to places unimaginable even since Boorstin wrote his chapter  – computers allow us to seek travel information,  purchase the holiday and check-in without leaving home and, for some, have virtual tourism experiences (Turner, Turner, & Carroll, 2005, p. 43). We don’t need “real” money to travel – we have credit cards. Mobile phones and email allow us to stay in constant touch with home while away. And so on.  The commonplace of travel today and the ease with which many non-disabled people engage can conceal the socially constructed barriers and constraints encountered in travel by those with access needs. Developments in travel technology can be a blessing for some but those who are restricted in their access to a computer, ATM, mobile phone or other technology remain segregated. In many ways, services and facilities for people with disability have increased but in other ways service personnel are scant and travel has become a DIY venture. Where are the porters of yore at travel termini – not everyone can carry a suitcase! Travel is still geared for bodies and minds that conform to a very narrow definition of embodiment.

For the rest of the chapter please see
Small, J., & Darcy, S. (2011). Chapter 5 - Understanding Tourist Experience Through Embodiment: The Contribution of Critical Tourism and Disability Studies. In D. Buhalis & S. Darcy (Eds.), Accessible Tourism: Concepts and Issues (pp. 72-96). Bristol, UK: Channel View Publications.
http://www.multilingual-matters.com/display.asp?isb=9781845411602&TAG=&CID=

References
Boorstin, D.J. (1987) The Image, A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America. New York:Atheneum.
Osborne, P. (2000) Travelling Light: Photography, Travel and Visual Culture. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Turner, P., Turner, S. and Carroll, F. (2005) The tourist gaze: Towards contextualised virtual environments. Spaces, Spatiality and Technology. Dordrecht:Kluwer.
Urry, J. (1990) The Tourist Gaze: Leisure and Travel in Contemporary SocietiesLondon: Sage

1 comment:

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