Original scientific paper
TOURIST MYTHS – A COMPARATIVE EXAMINATION
Taking the concept of myth in tourism seriously, this paper seeks to compare the status and dynamics of “tourist myths” in three socio-historical contexts: modern Western tourism, post-modern Western tourism and contemporary non-Western, predominantly Asian, tourism. It shows that the relationship between myth and tourism varies signifi cantly between the three contexts, and that, though tourists, as Selwyn (1996) argued, might be chasing myths, they do so in very different ways. Nostalgic modern tourists seek primarily to recover the traces of a mythical past on the margins of the contemporary world, where they have been led to believe that those traces are still reserved. Post-modern tourists, convinced of the futility of such a quest in a world of simulacra, seek to re-enact mythical themes in a seriously playful manner in contrived make-believe contexts, which confer the ancient myth with a post-modern twist. In contrast, contemporary non-Western tourists, for whom the mythical is still vitally present in the world they inhabit, seek to witness directly its occasional manifestations in that very world.
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