Critically Discuss of the Importance of Material Culture to Either Tourists or Migrants

Critically Discuss of the Importance of Material Culture to Either Tourists or Migrants

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The number of international tourists has been steadily increasing globally to 1035 million in 2012 with arrivals growing by 4% in the same year (UNWTO, 2012). With this number set to increase and numerous countries' economy becoming ever more dependent on tourism, it is essential to examine a tourist's relationship with material culture whilst on their travels. With the purpose of critically discussing the importance of material culture to tourists, two key terms are needed; 'material culture', the relationship between people and objects (Thrift, 2000), and 'tourist', a traveller who visits places away from home for pleasure. This essay begins by considering the differences in the types of tourists and tourism and how a tourist's connection with material differs with each. It then discusses the significance of souvenirs to a tourist and how this type of material can have very personal meanings to their owner. In the pages that follow it will become clear that the importance of material culture varies between each individual, and the purpose of travel influences the need for specific materials by the tourist.
In order to discuss whether material culture is important it is imperative to define a 'tourist'. Atkinson et al describes a "hierarchy of explorer (charting the unknown), the traveller (encountering difference) and the tourist (following the well-worn trail and reproducing the familiar)" (2005, ). In this context the explorer and traveller aim to experience different cultures and gain knowledge through physical engagement with the destination. (Atkinson et al, 2005). This desire to obtain experience and knowledge, rather than objects, through travel suggests that material culture is not of the most importance during their j...


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... behind an object and the tourist's association with it. There is evidence of both sides of the argument of the importance of material culture. The desire of a tourist to increase their knowledge through travel, spiritual fulfillment of the travel and the wish of those travelling for health reasons to get better care suggests that material culture is not the most important aspect of travel. However, there are many counter arguments to this, that material culture is of high importance. These include, the validating of knowledge; physical, rather than spiritual, fulfillment; body modification such as cosmetic surgery; a tourists's idea that better technology means better healthcare; and the significance of souvenirs to some tourists. It is clear from this that the importance of material culture is personal and the degree of importance differs between each individual.

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