Dr Emily Höckert is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Lapland, Finland. Her research cultivates relational ways of being, imagining, knowing, and acting in tourism settings. She approaches the questions of cultural sensitivity and hospitality at the crossroads of hermeneutic phenomenology and postcolonial philosophy, asking, for instance, how different kinds of hosts and guests welcome and take care of each other. Between 2019-2021, Emily worked as part of ARCTISEN project team that explored the questions of cultural sensitivity in Arctic tourism settings and developed toolkits and online courses for enhancing sensitive orientation to otherness. She is also a member of “Intra-living in the Anthropocene” and “Sustainable Naturecultures and Multispecies Future” research communities that both examine the interaction between northern areas, people and the environment.
Wil Munsters is emeritus professor of Tourism and Culture at Zuyd University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands. He has published a monograph on cultural tourism as well as tourism studies focusing on built heritage, museums, events, gastronomy, hospitality, cultural destinations, market development, sustainability, and research models. He has also co-edited books on cultural tourism research methodology and on anthropology as a driver for tourism research. As a member of ATLAS (Association for Tourism and Leisure Education and Research), he was involved in the international Cultural Tourism Research Project from 1994 to 2022.
Tourism as a Binding Agent between Cultures: Intercultural Pitfalls and Educational Challenges
The role that tourism can play in bridging gaps between cultures has to be considered in the broader perspective of the discussion on the benefits and the disadvantages of tourism for culture. What may be good for tourism is not necessarily good for culture and vice versa. An illustrative case of the negative impact of cultural tourism is provided by the abuse of animals at exotic destinations to satisfy the needs of a special type of Western travellers, who are driven by cultural omnivorousness and the desire to distinguish themselves from the mass. In order to avoid the pitfall of Western ethnocentrism ending up in accusations of indigenous barbarism stimulated by the experience hunger of foreign visitors, this controversial form of animal tourism needs to be reflected on from an intercultural point of view, which helps to understand that non-Western local communities have different attitudes towards animals and their wellbeing. In addition, one should realize that the same kind of tourism also exists in Western cultural communities. So cultural relativism would be appropriate. Sustainable solutions for the pitfalls of intercultural tourism must be sought in raising of tourist’s awareness by means of information, education and communication. To achieve this goal, it is essential that tourism and hospitality professionals possess the required intercultural competence, i.e. the knowledge, skills and attitude that enable them to act as qualified mediators between guests and hosts from different cultural backgrounds. How this challenge is being faced at Zuyd University of Applied Sciences can be demonstrated by the contributions of the research centre Global Minds @ Work to the development of young professionals’ global competence through innovative applied research and education.