Nations to Destinations: The Developmental Limits of National Tourism Marketing

Tuesday, 12 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal III (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Distributed Paper
Tim ROSENKRANZ, The New School for Social Research, USA
This paper explores processes of national tourism marketing as a significant, yet understudied phenomena in the current global competition of nation-states to attract economic flows. As developmental paradigms today expanded to include the transformation of culture into economic assets, destination marketing and branding have become central activities of the nation-state. To turn themselves into desirable destinations, nation-states invest billions of US-dollar into their marketing capacities. This research focuses on the marketing activities of multiple nation-states in the sources of potential tourists, i.e. the places where tourist come from. This interpretative-comparative case study is based on 15 months of qualitative data collection (interviewing, participant observation, discourse analysis) in India and the USA. In these sites, the nation-states’ destination marketing agencies, the National Tourist Offices (NTOs), try to reproduce the nation-state as attractive commodity images. Here, the NTOs cooperate with local marketing agencies, the travel media and industry to make the destination visible for the potential tourist (in newspaper articles, tour packages, etc.). As I argue in this paper, the practices of marketing have significant impacts on the possibilities of tourism development, as the audiences of potential tourists dominate them, the market of consumer demand. Through the case studies of India and the USA as such markets, I will show that destination marketing functions on two competing conceptions of this audience: 1.) The audience as actor that defines what is off value in marketing the destination, and; 2.) The audience as object to be manipulated through marketing. I argue that this dual conception of the audience on the one hand creates a space in which destination marketing operates and competition is possible. On the other hand it erects strict boundaries towards a realm that remains outside of the control of marketing and the nation-state.