Contribuciones a las Ciencias Sociales
Julio 2014

WORLDWIDE DESTINATIONS CASEBOOK: The geography of travel and Tourism. Butterworth-Heinemann. Boniface, B and Cooper, C. 2009. ISBN 978- 185617538-8

Maximiliano e. Korstanje (CV)
International Committee Research on Disasters, Bryant, Texas USA

Risk has been historically a term developed by cognitive psychology for more than 40 years. In tourism and hospitality fields this term was employed afterwards the World Trade Center´s attack. Based on the assumptions that risk should be contemplated as a threat to the attractiveness of international tourist-destinations, a particular interest was given to the risk assessment as an efficient instrument to mitigate the negative terrorism’s aftermaths. The way tourism responds to political crises is of paramount importance to warrant the well-functioning of this activity. The contributions of tourism in revitalizing the local economies first and foremost in developing countries has been widely studied by specialized literature up to date, but in last years few
researchers have questioned to what extent the high-degree of vulnerability of international travellers pave the pathways for the advent of terrorism. By adopting tourism as the primary form of production some peripheral countries with low concentration of capital are certainly circumscribed to face serious disruptions in case of terrorist onslaughts. Their inability to combine tourism with other economic resources makes of these sites a fertile target for terrorism. To some extent, Cooper and Boniface tried to present an all encompassed guide-book that typifies all potential problems and dangers a policy-maker should face in tourism-management and of course authors deserve credit for that. Structured in 4 sections which are based on more than 38 insight cases, this book alternates rich empirical-based examples with interesting conceptual discussions based on the different problems tourist-destination often face. In this vein, Boniface and Cooper go on to say that “Case-studies are an important element in the reaching of the geography of travel and tourism. In particular, they enhance and enliven the subject area by examining simulating issues in real life
situation (p.4)”.

Ranging from striking the modernity and mobility, risk and terrorism (cases 1 and 2), the impacts of global warming (case 5 and 6) and glitches in the transport-system to the future of travel agencies, this book can be considered as a daunting endeavour to expand the existent understanding respecting to the dangers that can deter the tourist destination growth. Nevertheless, this critical review will focus on the conceptual problems and limitations in cases 2, 7 and 8 respectively.
Centred their remarks along with the risk of experiencing a global pandemic originated by a new virus outbreak, Boniface and Cooper insist erroneously in the role played by mobility in an ever chancing world wherein the mass-transport does not facilitate the things for experts and officials who are in charge of health care for ordinary-people. This would be the case of the outbreak of unknown virus as Swine Flu which in few days travelled from one to another point of the globe. Following this argument, the crises should be classified in two types, in made-man and natural. Starting from the premise preparedness is more than important to start plans of evacuation and rescue, this book illustrates chapter by chapter the importance of having a crisis-management plan in case of emergencies. As the previous argument given, reduction, readiness, response and recovery are four of the necessary stages that take place from the event happens to the process of recovery post-disaster. The effectiveness of disaster-management plan is the success people have in the process of recovery. In perspective, Copper and Boniface confuse the meaning of natural and made-man disasters. This involuntarily error is often imported from specialized literature in tourism and hospitality, which will be placed in next lines under the lens of scrutiny. Disasters are seen as states of emergency resulted from the occurrence of an outstanding event which generated serious physical destruction, harm or loss of lives. With a high impact in social imaginary, disasters range from earthquakes, floods, virus outbreaks and terrorist attacks. Some scholars added that terrorism represents not only one of the most troublesome challenges of West, but also a type of made-man disaster. Judged by their effects and not because their causes, made-man disasters can be ethnocentrically catalogued as an act (based on negligence or crime) that falls under the responsibility of humankind. For many scholars in tourism and hospitality fields, mademan disasters characterize by being a direct result of human negligence, imprudence or lack of skills while natural disasters are supposed to be provoked by nature. Following this reasoning, the human responsibility for the events, in the case of natural disasters is conferred to environment. One of the problems with this seems to be that the reasons that engendered the state of emergency are covered. On another hand, the dichotomy between natural and made-man disasters is indistinctively a form of intellectualizing what in fact is understandable, the presence of mass-death. First and foremost, all disasters are made-man simply because their causes are generated by humans. Disasters no matter their nomenclature do not kill people, rather, what put people in danger is the style of life of people and their infrastructure in terms of mobility and urbanization. Depending on the type of urbanization quakes or flood´s impact, most of them broadcasted through the massmedia 24 hrs a day, can vary on in intensity and degree of destruction in human lives and material losses (effects). However, humans historically developed an ancient penchant to exert certain control under the environment and nature. This strategy is associated to maintain an acceptable threshold of certainness in order for the society not to be fragmented. In doing so, for example, one might realize that the name plays a pivotal role in expropriating the meaning of future. By naming, in US soil, the tornados and hurricanes, Americans ensure for themselves a psychological platform to continue for their lives. This does not mean that the hurricane would change the trajectory but its effects are contemplated with necessary time to be mitigated. Most likely, this issue seems to be the point that Boniface and Cooper leave in their intriguing development. Secondly, the formation of disaster-related research as a genre of literature evolved from being a need of anticipating the most negative consequences over population towards a new form of entertainment in our modern world. Nowadays, this type of scientificism echoes from a broader alarmism enrooted into the risk communication literature which pretends a scientific status. One of the most pervasive aspects of risk-communication studies seems to be the blurring between probability and possibility. Whilst the former refers to a mathematical probabilistic an event happens, the former draws an abstract condition of existence. For further understanding, let put this in another terms. The probabilities to suffer an airplane accident are slow because this event is considered by specialists as very strange but always remains possible. A patient who suffers from phobia precisely anticipates the possibility of his fantasy (the accident) with the empirical probabilities. Its panic can be explained because its boundary between probability and possibility is blurred. Similarly, the fears of pandemic apocalyptic viruses as Swine are compared to Spanish flu even though laboratories showed how the mitochondrial DNA of both viruses differs. Based on these false assumptions, some risk-related research warns on the potentiality mobility and technological advances acted as conduits for a rapid propagation and contagion. These fabricated and pre-conceived risks not only are aimed at reinforcing the legitimacy of status quo but also are not real. The biology of XIXth century demonstrated that a virus that gained velocity in the propagation (as a classic flu) reduces its degree of lethality and vice-versa. The probabilities a virus can mutate from one organism to other and eradicate the whole of population are very slim simply because viruses are often determined to strength the environmental adaptation of organisms (theory of evolution).

To be precise, the afore-mentioned alarmism in risk communication engendered an encrypted message for audience: nobody is safe elsewhere or anytime. Similarly to some sectors of journalism, the risk-communication as a scientific sub-field of biology has unfortunately become in a way of cultural entertainment that stimulates certainly the consumption reinforcing a previous moral order. As the previous argument given, it is important not to loose the sight that the “show of disaster” emphasizes on the effects of events in lieu of their motives. That way, the responsibilities of elite in the state of emergency is transformed in the solution for the problem. After a quake, some mega-corporations provide to community with abundant financial assistance to contribute in the recovery process. Most of them were supposed to have an important role in the construction of buildings sold as anti-seismic to ordinary dwellers. After the disasters, mass-media emphasize on the role of these donators over their original duties as builders. Their culprit for the situation is redeemed by the money these groups can donate. Last but not least, the rest of this hand-book contains interesting practice-led cases secondary related to heritage, tourism, risk, environmental impacts, conflict of interests among stakeholders, tourist destination maturity, climate, and problems in processes of decision making and other topics recommendable for practitioners, policy makers and scholars.

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Juan Carlos M. Coll (CV)
ISSN: 1988-7833

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