Volume: 34, No: 2, Year: 2009  

Tourism Research and the Tropics: Further Horizons


The origins of tourism and the foundations of tourism scholarship are in the temperate zones of the globe. While tropical destinations and themes have not been ignored in tourism study, a closer focus on the commonalities of tropical tourism settings is warranted. The defining common physical and social features of tropical locations include climate, political history and often modest levels of development. The perceptions of the tropics by external powers have also shaped the development of the region. The tourism related consequences of these features are distinctive patterns in seasonality, challenges in managing highly similar destination images and an array of natural and social resources which pose common management problems. Building on this context, the core aim of this paper is to encourage better benchmarking information for understanding and managing tourism in the tropics. The paper seeks to fulfil this aim both by outlining research topics to assist the management of tropical tourism and by using the tropics as a rich canvas for new directions in tourism study. Additionally, the role of tourism research in addressing pressing issues for the tropics is noted. Throughout, it is argued that there is much to be gained by more comparative studies of tourism processes and systems within tropical settings.

Keywords: tropics; social representations; benchmarking; seasonality; destination similarity; research agenda; climate change; quality of life..

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