Wageningen Geography Lectures 2014-2015
Greg Richards, Department of Leisure Studies, University of Tilburg
Geographers have long pondered the role of tourism in producing and shaping space. The description of resort geographies popular in the 1980s and 1990s has gradually given way to the current vogue for place-making and place marketing, re-centering geography in the tourism field.
More recently, however, the rise of the sharing economy and ‘relational tourism’ has caused researchers to look beyond the construction and consumption of place and to delve into the co-creation of localities between tourists and residents. These shorter and longer-term ‘locals’ increasingly find each other without the intervention of the traditional tourism industry, giving rise to whole new fields of economic, cultural and social exchange. The growth of companies such as Couchsurfing, Airbnb and Uber not only represents a challenge to traditional views of tourism, but is also reshaping the localities inhabited by tourists. This analysis examines the consequences of the new localities of tourism and they ways in which this might affect the future of tourism itself.