Adventure tourism

Authored by: Paul Beedie

Routledge International Handbook of Outdoor Studies

Print publication date:  November  2015
Online publication date:  November  2015

Print ISBN: 9781138782884
eBook ISBN: 9781315768465
Adobe ISBN: 9781317666523


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In his recent book concerning walking, climbing and the social construction of wild outdoor places, Macfarlane (2012, p. 323) suggests that one of modernity’s enduring tensions is between displacement and mobility on the one hand and dwelling and belonging on the other: ‘with the former becoming ubiquitous and the latter becoming lost (if it ever had been possible) and reconfigured as nostalgia’. This tension goes to the essence of tourism, which is, by definition, concerned with (temporary) displacement and seeking out alternative experiences. By touching on the ‘other’ through travel, particularly when the ambition of the journey is to engage with an outdoor experience, people are seeking a reconnection to place in keeping with the Romantic aspiration of locating a ‘real’ self through being in wild places (Solnit, 2001). If correct, this way of thinking helps understand the rise of adventure tourism. At one level adventure tourism is an oxymoron as ‘adventure’ is defined as uncertainty of outcome and ‘tourism’ as a systematic organisation of people’s leisure time. But at another level, perhaps the desire for travel, encounters with novel and new cultures and places together with a human proclivity to feel safe, comfortable and ‘anchored’ in some way does make sense because this is what adventure tourism is about.

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