The onward march of technology and its impact on the world of tourism

Authored by: Sagar Singh

The Routledge Handbook of Tourism Impacts

Print publication date:  May  2019
Online publication date:  April  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138494961
eBook ISBN: 9781351025102
Adobe ISBN:


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Technology has been the single most important factor in the development of fast transport in tourism, which, although it has shortened many days’ journeys into a matter of hours, has paradoxically increased the distance between the host and the guest. Most tourists seek, at some level, friendliness with the hosts and residents of tourist places. The basic relationship between tourist and host is social rather than that of trade, though the industry has inured travellers to a kind of hospitality where everything comes at a price. Technology puts a distance between host hospitality-givers and receiver-tourists: someone who just stepped off a jet plane and carries expensive cameras and bags cannot be related to by poor people who serve them. The jet plane and the car (technology) become symbols of the tourist and signs of alienation. Fast transport technology has increased the volumes of tourists in all tourist places and introduced tourists where there were none. As social relationships of genuine hospitality take time to develop, the sheer volume of tourism made possible by technology ensures that the relationships remain fleeting ones; in fact, the tourist himself/herself has become a commodity. This chapter analyses these paradoxes and the greatest impact that technology will have, through artificial intelligence, which is fast making in-roads in developed countries, including through controversial self-driving cars and robots that threaten to rob people of jobs in tourism.

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