Plugging in for the unplugged: Technologically mediated engagements with nature in tourism

Authors: Elizabeth S. Vidon*, SUNY-ESF, Jillian M. Rickly, University of Nottingham, Peter J Varley, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences , Michelle Duffy, University of Newcastle, Caroline Scarles, University of Surrey
Topics: Tourism Geography
Keywords: nature, technology, tourism, authenticity, virtual, responsibility, expectation, experience
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 2:00 PM / 3:40 PM
Room: Senate Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Nearly twenty years ago, Tourist Studies founding editors Drs. Adrian Franklin and Mike Crang stressed that tourism should be viewed as an extension of day-to-day living—what they termed “the extraordinary everyday” (p.8). Today, we return to their idea, but with an explicit focus on the ways it relates to engagements with nature via tourism. Specifically, our efforts are directed at the ways the “everydayness” of technologically mediated nature in tourism affects our engagements with it – how we perceive nature, our connection(s) to it, and the responsibility we feel towards it. We contend that technology in tourism both facilitates and limits engagement with nature, in some instances bringing nature to those who may otherwise be unable to experience it, while also alienating some from what may be considered authentic engagement. More specifically, we show that techno-mediated tourism has helped bring nature into the everyday, democratizing it and making it widely accessible. At the same time, digitally manipulated photographs, embellished videos, and poetic descriptions of destinations all draw nature back to the phenomenal, establishing unrealistic expectations for those wishing to see the best vista or the most vivid sunset. Thus, while tourism may indeed be an extension of the everyday, our technologically mediated engagements with nature walk a tenuous tightrope between the ordinary and the extraordinary.

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