Beaches, Ruins, Resorts: The Politics of Tourism in the Arab World

Beaches, Ruins, Resorts: The Politics of Tourism in the Arab World by Waleed Hazbun
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Together they survey a range of what I refer to as the itineraries of globalization being pursued across the region. By framing this book around the notion of itineraries, I can investigate diverse understandings and projections of globalization rather than measure each experience against a common index. Despite the academic debate about the measurable reality of globalization, the concept plays a powerful role in shaping the goals and agendas of policy makers, entrepreneurs, social activists, and tourists in the Middle East and elsewhere.

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In other words, for my purposes, globalization is defi ned as what these actors make of it. To better understand the construction of these itineraries, this Introduction develops a political- economy approach focused on the territorial aspects of transnational flows. Like other facets of globalization, the development and spread of international tourism Egypt 4.

International tourism receipts as percentage of GDP in Note: Dubai data are for While defi ned by actors and processes in multiple locations, these transnational networks help shape patterns of economic development, identity formation, and political control in particular localities. The key to understanding these impacts is to analyze the changing territorial dynamics of these processes.

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It seems that even when the ossified political systems across the region finally succumb to pressures for change, Lebanon will maintain a non-authoritarian, but nevertheless dysfunctional, corruption-ridden state paralyzed by a divided government, run by a political class largely isolated from popular accountability. In: Ambio 27 8 : Old Password. After decades of stifling authoritarian rule in the region, there was now hope for a future full of creative possibilities across the Arab world. You can change your ad preferences anytime. Melbourne: Lonely Planet Publications.

Most studies of globalization focus on processes that generate deterritorialization, where territorial features such as distance, borders, and location become less salient across a seemingly homogeneous space. Deterritorialization often erodes the territorially based regulatory capability of states and challenges territorially based social formations and identities. Globalization, however, should also be understood as generating reterritorialization in which such territorial features become more salient.

In its economic forms, reterritorialization entails the development of nodes within global networks that generate spatially defi ned economic benefits for fi rms and property owners. The political significance of economic reterritorialization is that it can increase the power and regulatory influence of state agencies, private fi rms, and societal actors who control such spaces.

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In its political forms, reterritorialization consists of policies and ideologies that enhance territorial identities and promote rebordering to limit transnational flows. Using this framework, I show how tourism development has often been used as a means to integrate Arab economies into increasingly competitive and volatile global markets.

This occurs because many states and fi rms view tourism development as the most feasible means to promote economic reterritorialization and thus expand their control over capital flows, markets, and territory while also promoting globalization. I demonstrate how struggles within each state or locality over patterns of development can determine how and if a territory becomes integrated into regional and global networks and transnational flows.

Thus the politics of globalization can be understood better as struggles between rival local actors within spaces shaped by the transnationally produced effects of deterritorialization and reterritorialization than as a global confrontation between globalizing processes and local forms of resistance. This framework posits globalization as a heterogeneous process across time and space. It is best suited to capturing how the patterns of tourism development across the Middle East Introduction xvii are often defi ned by authorities that are able to assert control over local spaces and territory but not over globe-spanning networks.

The International Political Economy of Tourism The origins of the international tourism economy and its expansion across the Middle East can be traced back to what is often called the fi rst era of globalization during the second half of the nineteenth century. These efforts created a tourist market in the transportation and accommodation sectors, leading fi rst to the development of an infrastructure for tourist travel across Europe and eventually to the proliferation of tourism-related businesses that sought to commercialize all aspects of the travel experience.

As travel became cheaper and more convenient, the practice of leisure tourism spread throughout the upper-middle classes of the industrializing societies of Europe and North America, who could now easily travel independently of organized groups. The result was an overall reduction in the cost of tourism that further expanded its market.

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The latest phase of the development of the international tourism economy began at the end of World War II. The United States became xviii Introduction an early proponent of reopening European borders to tourist flows and encouraged American tourism to France as a means to inject the economy with dollars and begin economic reconstruction before Marshall Plan funds were mobilized.

Between and , international tourist arrivals expanded from 25 million to over million, while foreign travel expenditures grew at an average annual rate of 12 percent. In the s and s, the rapid expansion of global tourism was spurred on by industrial growth in the North Atlantic economies, the development of the welfare state, and the rise of middle- and working- class leisure time and mass consumerism. Tourism development was generally understood to help southern European states in their postwar efforts to modernize their economies by diversifying their sources of foreign exchange and by generating job growth in underdeveloped regions.

The international tourism economy has largely been driven by the growth of a linked set of fi rms and organizations and the rise of leisure travel as a form of mass consumerism. The operations of airlines, tour operators, and hotel management fi rms account for the bulk of the global tourism industry. Though tourism is often referred to as the largest sector of the global economy, the exact size of the sector is impossible to determine, as it has no clearly defined boundaries.

It is the nationality, motivation, and experience of the consumer, rather than that of the producer, that defines any economic activity as tourism. While some fi rms might operate within the space of a tourism enclave where all consumers are foreign tourists, fi rms outside such spaces might routinely provide goods and services to both visitors and local residents. The amorphous nature of the sector often complicates both policy formulation and scholarship about tourism. Its massive size and global impacts notwithstanding, it is not yet possible to speak of the international political economy of tourism as a distinct subfield with an established literature.

Thus, rather than presenting a survey of an existing literature, I draw on research about tourism and related matters from a range of disciplinary approaches to define some of the building blocks needed to develop an IPE- of-tourism subfield and research agenda. This effort is organized around two key questions. Both questions address issues central to the field of international political economy that xx Introduction are critical for understanding the effects of tourism development in the Middle East.

The fi rst question relates to the relative power of state agencies, private firms, and international markets in shaping the politics of tourism development. The second question addresses the political effects of transnational flows: do cross-border flows promote economic and political integration and facilitate cooperation, or do these flows generate asymmetrical economic and cultural relations that foster political conflict? The Global Tourism Economy and the Politics of Development In the s and s, governments across the developing world, backed by agencies such as the World Bank and the U.

Agency for International Development USAID , pushed tourism as a means to promote market-based economic growth and provide capital for industrialization.

gababipunla.cf Like many other development efforts, the results often did not meet expectations. Much of the early literature focused on measuring the smaller-than- expected economic benefits and the larger-than-expected social and environmental costs. The fi rst studies to explore the international political economy of tourism appeared in the s, when a few scholars studying the rise of transnational corporations TNCs ventured to incorporate tourism fi rms into these frameworks. Many of these studies were influenced by theories of dependency and underdevelopment and challenged modernization theory.

And as more territories opened up, the bargaining power of local governments and fi rms only decreased. The concerns of these studies still influence scholars who explore international tourism development as a form of exploitative global capitalism. These approaches, however, tend to focus on national development strategies or microcontexts, 22 treating the nature of the international tourism economy as an exogenous factor.

To bridge the gap, this book builds on innovative efforts to view the international tourism economy through the framework of global commodity chain analysis. It also demonstrates how firms based in developing countries, often with government support, have been able to capture a growing share of industry profits when large business concerns develop their own set of local tourism-related fi rms or when small local fi rms succeed in exploiting specialized niche markets.

While the global commodity chain approach usefully maps the global tourism economy as a set of connected service sector businesses, the approach pays too little attention to the diverse spatial xxii Introduction and cultural dynamics that shape the markets for demand and the conditions of the production and commodification of tourism. I develop an approach that begins with the notion that tourism development is best defi ned as the commodification of experiences of place.

The experience of place and value of the product is shaped by changing transportation technologies, ways of seeing, cultural lenses, and processes of commodification, all led by diverse actors such as government agencies, local entrepreneurs, TNCs, and NGOs.

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The task of developing an international political economy of tourism thus requires a framework that sees tourism in each location not as a product of a global economic system driven by a single capitalist logic but as shaped by ever- changing networks connecting heterogeneous local actors through international transportation systems to travelers from other parts of the world.

The transnational networks that shaped these economies are mostly based outside their own borders, and owing to the relatively small share of global flows to the Middle East, these states and fi rms based in the region have limited influence on the global markets that shape the behavior of TNCs.

Under certain circumstances, however, their control over local territorial resources can be used to shape local experiences and reposition their tourism products within certain networks of the global tourism economy. Tourism as a Transnational Process Another critical facet of tourism barely explored by existing political-economy approaches is the way it operates as a vehicle for transnational flows of people, capital, commodities, and images. Travel, like other aspects of globalization, often plays tricks with our sense of geography. To take one example, in the s the rise of international avia- Introduction xxiii tion allowed civilians to travel rapidly across the globe, as Wendell Willkie did in More intense interactions can generate new geographies of enmity and confl ict.

Samuel Huntington, for example, views contemporary global politics as fragmented between territories separated by their civilizational differences. While scholars of tourism have explored both these effects individually, they have yet to develop integrated theories that explain both effects within the same framework. At the broadest level, international travel and tourism are sometimes portrayed as vehicles for promoting cross-cultural understanding and cosmopolitan identities. Arend Lijphart, for one, viewed tourism flows as one form of cross-border interaction that contributes to the development of interdependence between states and might help foster regional integration.

In the early postwar period, for example, U. These flows have helped sustain support at the societal level for closer strategic ties. For example, they argue that the structure of air transport networks, the regimes that govern them, and the increasing liberalization of air travel reflect the relative power of states in the international system. These tendencies of integration and conflict illustrate how transnational tourism flows and the organization of the global tourism industry can shape political, economic, and cultural relations between states.

Most explorations into the transnational effects of tourism, however, either present a narrow case study with limited relevance for other contexts or else portray tourism as a universal process promoting similar integrative and confl ictive effects wher- Introduction xxv ever it develops.

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Beaches, Ruins, Resorts. The Politics of Tourism in the Arab World. •. Author: Waleed Hazbun. Beaches, Ruins, Resorts. How Arab states use tourism for. For readers who associate the Arab world with images of political violence, authoritarian rule, and hostility to foreigners, a book about the politics of tourism.

Studying these networks is a means to map the heterogeneous processes of globalization as they are shaped by international tourism and other activities in each context. Mapping the Territorial Effects of Globalization To explain both the political economy of tourism development and the effects of transnational tourism flows, this book emphasizes the role of territoriality within the context of transnational networks.

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I develop a framework that suggests what might be called the territorial paradox of globalization. Rather than diminishing the importance of geography, processes of globalization unevenly generate deterritorialization and reterritorialization at different scales and locations, resulting in the heightened importance of territory, location, and boundaries. Many portrayals of globalization overemphasize the process of deterritorialization.

They highlight the diffusion of new technologies, xxvi Introduction expansion of markets, and policy changes, which have made distance and national barriers easier and cheaper to traverse and have led to the increased transnational mobility of capital, commodities, and people. Much of the literature regarding the developing world views globalization as a pressure on states to adopt neoliberal economic policies as their territories become integrated into the global economy.

Noting these trends but often debating their extent, many scholars of international relations and international political economy stress the importance of nonterritorial forces and agents such as global norms, identity, transnational NGOs, and international organizations.

It is through these imaginaries that policy makers, academics, businesspeople, the general public, and others understand the terrain of global politics and the international political economy.