Destination Choices

This is a group discussion activity to raise major issues and focus on the chief aims of the assignment. Based on analyzing typical descriptions of tourist attractions in three Asian countries, the assignment will raise questions about the image of these countries in the tourist industry, the popular forms of tourist activity, and the economic and other impacts of tourism on these countries.

The aim is to show how tourist operators create and market tourist destinations by constructing particular images of places and people. Consumers respond to the images created, thus setting up a demand which the people in the destinations then feel they must provide. In this way, the nature of tourist development is significantly affected by the images created about the desirable aspects of a place.

Note that three descriptions are provided with the activity. If possible, actual copies of tourist brochures would be preferable, since illustrations are an important part of the image presented, and the particular images emphasized may vary from country to country. A useful exercise may be to compare the images created of a particular destination in advertising aimed at markets in different countries.

1. Focus Activity: Tourist Images of Asia

This exercise is aimed mainly at establishing the link between the consumer (or potential consumer) of tourism and the development of tourism in the host countries. The argument is that knowing about tourism has a personal significance, as our views of desirable tourist activities can influence tourist development.

Tourist destinations are products constructed for consumption. They are constructed in two ways: first, as images to appeal to the consumer, and second, as actual sites for buildings, services, work and the everyday activities of people living in these areas. These two constructions are related, but the image is not a simple reflection of the existing tangible reality. Tourist operators construct images based in part on the existing resources of the destination, but they tailor the image to what they think consumers want. In addition, this desired image becomes the model for the construction of physical facilities and the kinds of services, activities and work which goes on. Thus, the image in a sense is then constructing the reality.

This exercise tries to capture some of these ideas. It is based upon the 'touristic' descriptions of Singapore, Thailand, and Bali in Resources 1-3, respectively. Note that actual tourist brochures would be a preferable basis for discussion, but that the descriptions provided would be quite adequate.

  • Divide participants into small groups and give each group a copy of either Resource 1, Resource 2, or Resource 3. Ask the groups to read the statements and answer the questions at the end.
  • After 20 minutes, conduct a general discussion of group answers, focusing especially on the concept of images and the construction of reality in the third set of questions explored by each group.