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Tourist territorialisation and geographies of opportunity at the edges of mass destinations

Journal article
Authors Robin Biddulph
Published in Tourism Geographies
Volume 19
Issue 1
Pages 27-43
ISSN 1461-6688
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Economy and Society, Unit for Human Geography
Centre for Tourism
Pages 27-43
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.1080/14616688.2016.12...
Keywords Tourism geographies, back regions, livelihoods, territorialisation, pro-poor tourism, Cambodia
Subject categories Human Geography, Social and Economic Geography, Other Social Sciences

Abstract

Geographies of tourism often highlight tourism's tendency to exclude or displace local economic actors. Tourism enclaves tend to be particularly exclusive at destination sites and urban centres. This study looks at the edge of a mass tourism town centre and investigates how landowners, entrepreneurs and employees retain a foothold in the face of tourism expansion. Conducted in 2014-2015, this microgeography of a tourist backstreet in Siem Reap, Cambodia comprises a survey of 73 of the occupants and over 40 follow-up interviews complemented by a photographic record of 135 premises. It found most local landowners retaining their properties, and only engaging strategically and selectively with the tourism economy. Entrepreneurial opportunities were initially taken by migrants from other provinces, and then, as tourism expanded, by foreigners and by local entrepreneurs with experience of employment in established tourism businesses. This study illustrates how tourism's territorialisation of back regions is quite different from that of front regions. Even in relatively impoverished settings, pre-tourism economic activities and business cultures may contribute to local actors being able to achieve relatively secure footholds in hybridised space at the edges tourism booms.

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