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This final blog will be dedicated to a discussion of our course and summer school. There are a few things I think could be done to get even more acquainted with the theories in tourism.

First of all, it might be interesting to experience for ourselves how it is to be all the different kinds of tourists. For example, an arrangement in which students would stay in host families for a few days, before going on the touristic tour we had this week, would be interesting. This way, student get in contact with locals and have more opportunity to ask them questions. This would be interesting in the light of Scot McCabe’s ‘who is a tourist?’[1]

When going to a politically interesting area as Jordan, it would also be very interesting and educational to learn more about this, by talking to people that work in security for example. During our trip, we were somewhat stuck in the tourist bubble. As Boorstin (1964)[2] described tourism cannot provide any opportunity for experiencing local culture and meeting local folk in unmediated fashion but, rather, isolates tourists from the world within an insulated environment, a tourist bubble within which inauthentic spectacles are consumed.

However, I have learned a lot about a field I had no background in. By first reading and discussing different theories about tourism and then going on to be tourists ourselves, the material has been made very clear to me. The summer school was one in which we had so much fun too, that I can only imagine coming back to Jordan at some point, Inshallah.

I will end this last blog with some pictures of our amazing, divers week:

Group picture at baptism site
Group picture at baptism site
Roman theatre in Amman
Monastery, Petra
Dead sea
Sun set at Wadi Rum desert
Dutch Ambassy in Amman
Dutch Ambassy in Amman

[1] McGabe, S. (2005). ‘Who is a tourist?: A critical review’. Tourist Studies. 5(1), p. 85-106.

[2] Boorstin, D. (1964). The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America. New York: Harper

Tourist movements

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Tourist movements are the spatial changes of activity locations of tourists and can be divided into inter-destination movements and intra-destination movements. Inter-destination movements are movements on the local level, where tourists travel from attraction to attraction within the same destination. Intra-destination movements are from the generating region to destination regions or between destination regions, and these are the ones I am interested in.

There are a few factors that affect tourist movement patterns. Concerning the human factors, it is important that the location offers novelty and strangeness, as these are ‘essential elements in the tourist experience’ (Cohen, 1972)[1]. About the motivation of tourists it is believed that they strive to achieve a state of stability, ego-enhancement or self-recognition during their trip (Crompton, 1979[2] ; Dann, 1977[3] ; Lue et al ., 1993[4]).
There are also physical factors, which are factors that emerge from the external physical environment instead of those motivated by the tourists themselves (Lau and McKercher, 2006). These factors are defined by attractions that have the ability to pull tourists, for Jordan this could for example be Petra for.

Beside these, there are more factors that play a role in a tourists choice for destination. All these factors together can give us a more clear idea of why tourists move in the way they do.

Tourists movements patterns using GIS.  Picture from : Understanding Tourist Movement Patterns in a Destination: A GIS Approach Tourism and Hospitality Research November 2006 7: 39-49
Tourists movements patterns using GIS.
Picture from : Understanding Tourist Movement Patterns in a Destination: A GIS Approach
Tourism and Hospitality Research November 2006 7: 39-49

[1] Cohen , E .(1972 ) ‘ Toward a Sociology of International Tourism ’ , Social Research, 39, 164 – 182 .

[2] Crompton , J . L .( 1979 ) ‘ Motivations for Pleasure Vacation ’ , Annals of Tourism Research, 6, 408 – 424

[3] Dann , M . S .(1977 ) ‘ Anomie, Ego-Enhancement and Tourism ’ , Annals of Tourism Research, 4, 4 , 184 – 194 .

[4] Lue , C . C . , Crompton , J . L .and Fesenmaier , D . R . ( 1993 ) ‘ Conceptualization of Multidestination Pleasure Trips ’ , Annals of Tourism Research, 20, 289 – 301 .

Affects and emotions

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When I told my friends and family I was going to Jordan this summer, almost everybody asked my whether this was safe, which is a legitimate question of course. Tourism to places that are somewhat unsafe and less conventional is sometimes called ‘dark-tourism’ (Foley and Lennon, 1996)[1] .

All tourism is highly associated with emotions, but for dark tourism it is even more interesting to look at which affects, emotions and feeling are accompanied with the experiences of tourists. Emotions and feelings are described as a sense that you can label, give a name to, whereas affects are on a deeper level, more intuitive.  Emotions are than something you feel, and feelings can be used to describe what it means to feel a certain way.

It has been found that some realities in the West Bank, such as the refugee camps, are turned into tourist attractions, which makes fear blur into fun. Some people travel to the area to undergo the total shock, as a part of their tourist experience (Buda, d’Hautessere, Johnston, 2014)[2]. In the light of emotions, shock is a mixture of fun and fear, and it engages the senses as well as emotions and feelings.

In dangerzones, emotions intensity and create collective feelings. We consider feelings to connect people to places and vice versa. It is argued that emotions play a crucial role in tourism. They still tend to be neglected in tourism studies though, which is surprising, since tourist encounters are lived through feelings such as fun, fear, excitement, pain, joy and so on

Wadi Mujib lead to only feeling of joy and awe. Beautiful canyoning and amazing place for hiking, climbing and swimming.
Jordan is more than a ‘danger- zone country’. Wadi Mujib lead to only feeling of joy and awe. Beautiful canyoning and amazing place for hiking, climbing and swimming.

[1] Foley, Malcolm; J. John Lennon (1996). “JFK and dark tourism: A fascination with assassination”. International Journal of Heritage Studies (Taylor & Francis) 2 (4): 198–211.

[2] Buda,M. d’Hautessere,A. Johnston,L. (2014) “feeling and tourism studies”. Annals of Tourism Reserch(2014) 102-114.

Tourism in conflict areas

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One of the interesting things about Jordan is its location. It is surrounded by Israel, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. There is a lot of turmoil in this area, however Jordan is a relatively safe country. It is interesting to see how safety and politics play a role in tourism. Jordan has received only a fraction of their usual tourists in the last couple of years, because of the situation in its surrounding countries.

Jordan takes a lot of pride in their safeness, which can be illustrated by an example from 2010, when a rocket that was likely to be aimed at Eilat (Israel) landed in Aqaba (Jordan). The government and the media made sure that the illusion of safety in Jordan remained. Interviews with positive tourists were published in newspapers and the Jordan Tourism Board posted a statement immediately after the attack, stating that this attack was an isolated accident with no effect on tourism in Jordan (Journal of Travel Research[1]). These testimonials also something else; although Lisle (2013)[2] argues that tourism industries are highly dependent on the safety situation in a country, the attack in Aqaba proves that some undeterred tourists are not put off by ongoing turmoil. In 2012 international tourist arrivals in Jordan increased by 5% and in Palestine by 9% (UNWTO, 2013)[3].Tourists in areas of ongoing socio-political turmoil engage with the conflict.

Although conflict might not always be a direct reason to scare tourists off, fact is that everyone we talked to in Jordan that works in Tourism has told us they are having very difficult times. Our tour guide Omar showed me his agenda, which consisted a lot of tipp-ex where all his cancelled tours used to be.

Location of Eilat and Aqaba
Location of Eilat and Aqaba

[1] Journal of travel research, only available for peer review

[2] Lisle, D. (2013). “Frontline Leisure: Securitizing Tourism in the War on Terror”. Security Dialogue, 44(2): 127–146

[3] UNWTO. (2013). Tourism highlights: 2013 edition.

Narratives in tourism

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One of the things I realized during our trip to Jordan is how important the role of the narratives is in tourism. When we were at the site where Jezus is supposed to be baptized, we got a tour from the manager of the site, Rustum Mkhjian. This man was so passionate about his religion, but also other religions and the site in general, that we all became very enthusiastic.

As Edward M. Bruner describes in his article ‘The role of narratives in tourism’[1], also pre-tour narratives are important for the experiences. When you have background information about places you go, you see everything in a different perspective.

I also realized this during our visit to Jerash, a city that has been saved from the Roman time. It makes a deep impression when you know that the place you are standing in at that moment was the main street of a village 2000 years ago, much more than if you would just be wandering around in the ruins.

In Jordan, there are so many important historical and religious places. It is important to know the stories behind these, so that you can fully realize the importance of the place you are standing in. This is why it is important to realize signs and such in touristic places.

Another part of this is the experience of tourists that turn into their own narratives as soon as they get back. This way, the narratives they learned about before their trips and experienced during, make their way back home for their friends and family to hear.

Rustum Mkhjian, manager of the baptism site, Bethany beyond the Jordan

[1] Bruner, Edward M. 2005, University of Illinois.  Berkely conference, On Voyage: New Directions in Tourism Theory

Tourist versus Traveller

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Over the last years, the term ‘tourist’ has gotten a negative sound to it. To illustrate, this is a quote from Michael Palin, member of the British comedy group Monty Python:

“A tourist wears a knotted hanky, goes on about jacuzzi’s, faints at calamari and goes nowhere without an English-speaking guide (and only then to 96 tourist studies 5:1 Downloaded from at University of Waikato Library on March 21, 2010 the tourist places). Think Shirley Valentine and I give you your tourist. Rule for a good hol: go off the beaten track, get to know the locals (follow them into the interesting bars but be a bit careful), ask lots of questions, use local transport, eat local food and never, ever, ever, ever, ever, wear a knotted hanky. Got that?”

But what exactly is a tourist? A definition for a tourist is: ‘a person who travels outside of his normal environment for a period of more than 24 hours’ (Mathieson and Wall, 1982[1]).

Jacobsen (2000)[2] describes a phenomenon called anti-tourism. Anti-tourists are those that wish to distinguish themselves from other tourists. Anti-tourists are those who have some measure of disaffection from and/or resistance against, the typical, traditional or common tourist.

Anti-tourists are not the same as people who are called travelers though. Jacobsen argues that the essential difference is that the latter does not necessarily display anti-tourist attitudes, thus arguing that tourists can be differentiated specifically by this attitude.

In my opinion, and also following the definition in the beginning of this blog, all these before mentioned types of people that go abroad are tourists, they are just all different kinds of tourists. Some prefer to take the safe road and use a guide, other wants more adventure. That does not make you an entirely different species.

Typical tourists?

[1] Mathieson,A. and G.Wall (1982) Tourism: Economic, Physical and Social Impacts. Harlow: Longman

[2] Jacobsen, J. K. S. (2000) ‘Anti-tourist Attitudes: Mediterranean Charter Tourism’, Annals of Tourism Research 27(2): 284–300.

The Tourist gaze

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One of the most important theories in tourism in the theory of the gaze. In his book ‘The Romantic Gaze’[1], Urry writes about a phenomenon every tourist encounters: the gaze. He divides the gaze into the romantic and the collective gaze.

The romantic form of the tourist gaze is characterized by “solitude, privacy and a personal, semi-spiritual relationship with the object of the gaze, for example undisturbed nature.
The collective gaze, on the other hand, “necessitates the presence of large numbers of other people” that “give atmosphere or a sense of carnival to a place” (Urry, 43). Also, “[t]he presence of other tourists provides a market for the sorts of service that most tourists are in fact desperate to purchase, such as accommodation, meals, drink, travel, and entertainment” (Urry, 44).
The interesting thing about this is that mass tourism often follows in the footsteps of the romantic traveler, and the travel brochures and catalogues for a lot of destinations of mass tourism lure the tourist with pictures and photographs that appeal to the romantic gaze.
Apparently, the romantic gaze is more desirable, but the collective gaze make services for mass tourism are available.

Something I noticed in Jordan is that people are not just gazing at extraordinary things. Of course, when we went to Petra, we stared at the beauty of all of it. The remarkable thing is that, when travelling, people are also all of the sudden intrigued by for example fruits that are laid out on a market stall. Every Tuesday and Friday there is market at the Vismarkt, but then no one is interested, yet a fruit market abroad is extremely interesting.

A typical tourist picture: fruit markets. Picture by Julia
A typical tourist picture: fruit market. Picture by Julia

[1] Urry,J. 2002. ‘The Tourist Gaze’. SAGE Publications


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During our stay in Amman, we had a meeting with United States Agency for International Development (USAID). As they state on their website USAID is “the lead U.S. Government agency that works to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realize their potential”. Our meeting focused on their work in Jordan where they take care of the conservation of a lot of historic places such as Petra and the Roman citadel.
They also take care of other touristic aspects in Jordan. They proudly told us for example that they have set up regulations for hotels and restaurants to make them follow hygienical rules.  Although of course some rules are necessary, I could not help but think of what this will mean for the authenticity and the experience tourists will have. When you visit Jordan, you want to eat Jordanian food and you want to sleep in a hotel Jordanians have set up. You do not want to eat somewhere that is following so many American rules that it might just as well be in the United States.

It is not just this though, also their slogan “From the American People” made me think. Why do The American People have to come in and tell the Jordanians what to do with their cultural heritage? Although there is no doubt that they are doing good things for this country and surely they are helping, it does feel a bit disparagingly.

It is interesting to think about the other side of help: is the helper perhaps persuing some own interests, and what does the party that receives aid think of this? One should keep in mind: it’s a rather small line between help and, although it’s perhaps an extreme word, neo-colonialism, even when intentions are good.

USAID is everywhere in Jordan. Picture taken in Petra by Marina. Model: Maartje
USAID is everywhere in Jordan. Picture taken in Petra by Marina. Model: Maartje

The quest for authenticity

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The Quest for authenticity

On Tuesday August the 18th, I arrived in Jordan to stay with my sister Floor, who has been in Amman since the beginning of July for an internship.

We decided to go to Dana first, which is a nature reservoir south of Amman. Around 15:00 we sat ourselves in the local bus. After an hour of waiting our neighbor told us we were not going to leave until the bus was completely filled, to which we responded with a desperate sigh. Our neighbor was surprised by our reaction, because according to him, the bus was definitely going to leave at some point today. This was of course a lot better than some other days, when he would be waiting in the bus for several hours only to hear that the bus decided not to go that day.
At 17:30, we were finally moving on our way to Dana. The fact that our follow travelers in the bus did not seem at all annoyed by the waiting gave us a good insight in the Jordanians’ attitude.

When we got back in Amman, we were invited to a family dinner with Doctor Tatjana, who is a dentist in Floors street. After the initial scare that we had to marry their son, it turned out they were just genuinely happy to welcome us in their home and to stuff us with the most delicious kinds of Jordanian foods.

The kind of experiences I described in this blog, are closely linked to Dean MacCannel’s article about the quest for authenticity[1]. As he describes, most tourists are searching for an authentic experience, which means to find and experience the real – also known as back-stage- life of the country you are visiting. However, most of the times tourists will be rewarded with so-called staged authenticity, which is provided by local people trying to make some money by responding to the tourists’ desire to find authenticity. Tourists that go on organized tours with a travel agency, are most likely to find themselves surrounded with this staged authenticity.
They will never realize the attitude of the Jordanians towards time management, nor will they be invited to dine at a Jordanian family. Of course Floor and I were still tourists that went to places local people never go to, but we did found ourselves in a few situations that I will dare to describe as authentic.

[1] MacCannell, D. (1976).The Tourist: A New Theory of the Leisure Class, New York: Schocken

Enjoying dinner at Dr Tatiyana’s
Our beds in Dana
Funniest taxi driver

Background on Jordan

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Welcome back,

To get a better idea of where I am while writing this blog, I will provide you with some background information about Jordan.

Jordan is officially called the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, because their first king, King Abdullah Abdullah I bin al-Hussein, was a descendant of the Hashemite family. The family belongs to the Dhawu Awn, one of the branches of the Hasanid Sharifs of Mecca – also referred to as Hashemites. The Hasanid Sharifs ruled Mecca continuously from the 10th century until its conquest by the House of Saud in 1924. The ancestor of the Hashemite family is Hashim ibn Abd Manaf, great-grandfather of the Islamic prophet Muhammed, which is of course very convenient for the Kings of Jordan. At the moment, Jordan is ruled by King Abdullah the second, son of King Hussein. The Royal family in Jordan is extremely popular and pictures of the King Abdullah the first, King Hussein and King Abdullah the second can be found all over the country.

Jordan is located on the East Bank of the River Jordan, and the country is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south and east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and Israel en Palestine to the west.

After World War I West Asia was divided by Britain and France and the Emirate of Transjordan was officially recognized. After capturing the West Bank during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Abullah I took the title King of Jordan. The name of the state was changed to The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in 1948.
Although Jordan is a constitutional monarchy, the king holds most of the executive and legislative powers.

Jordan has a population of around 9 million people, of which roughly 2 million are Syrians who came to Jordan in the last couple of years.
Around 92% of the Jordan population is Muslim, 6% is Christian and the remaining inhabitants are either Jewish or Atheist.

This information will hopefully help my readers to put my thoughts and adventures here into a better perspective!